Photo Credit: Haim Zach/GPO
Prime minister Netanyahu (2R) and Minister of Transportation Israel Katz seen inside a tunnel along the route of the express train between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv,.

Shas chairman and Minister of Economy Aryeh Deri sparked a political fire on Friday by ordering a halt to work on Shabbat on the high-speed Jerusalem-Tel Aviv train line.

The route is supposed to start operating by 2018.

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Halting work on Shabbat would mean a delay of approximately 120 days, but Israel Railways charged that Deri’s order will delay the project by up to two years.

Apparently, people who work on Shabbat work at a far faster pace than they do on weekdays.

Work on public facilities and in industries on Shabbat in Israel is allowed if there is a special labor permit, which is issued in areas of public need, such as the water and electric companies and at factories where on-going processes cannot function practically with a weekly shutdown and start-up.

Deri’s order seems to be a ploy for political points with his Hareidi constituency.

The Transportation Ministry said that work permits are issued by the Minister of Economy, but Deri maintained that each minister is responsible for issuing permits for projects under its jurisdiction.

Since no permit for working on Shabbat has been granted for work on the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem train line, it is illegal for construction to continue on the Day of Rest, according to Deri.

It is very likely that the proper permits eventually will be issued, allowing the work to continue while Deri carries home points with his constituents.

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Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu is a graduate in journalism and economics from The George Washington University. He has worked as a cub reporter in rural Virginia and as senior copy editor for major Canadian metropolitan dailies. Tzvi wrote for Arutz Sheva for several years before joining the Jewish Press.

4 COMMENTS

  1. This is quite a sudden choice that Deri made, making non Jews lose their jobs, and that it strands soldiers nowhere, because they won't have trains after Shabbat, because the infrastructure won't be ready. This is a bad choice, and it involves pikuach nefesh, or life threatening situations.

  2. At most, this means a 6 month delay. But just maybe giving a day off for Shabbat will actually result in fewer complications and delays, which could make the project complete in less time. It's a metaphysical thing – keeping Shabbat has metaphysical repercussions.

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