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MK Betzalel Smotrich

Former Transportation Minister and chair of the Religious Zionism party, MK Bezalel Smotrich, slammed his successor, Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli, for what he said was a decision to “trample the Sabbath” and harm Israel’s Jewish identity.

The charge followed Michaeli’s instructions to the company responsible for operating the Gush Dan Light Rail, NATA, to explore the possibility of running the train on the Sabbath as well.


Michaeli asked the chairperson of the company to carry out an analysis of operational and budgetary considerations aimed at enabling routine operation of the Light Rail’s “Red Line” route on Saturdays.

“A failed minister of transportation has decided to trample the Sabbath in the State of Israel and harm the Jewish identity of the country as part of her election campaign,” Smotrich said in a statement issued Wednesday.

“The upcoming elections are about whether the State of Israel will remain a Jewish and democratic state, or God forbid, will become a state for all its citizens led by the progressive left, along with the supporters of terrorism,” Smotrich added.

Michaeli said the commitments between caretaker Prime Minister Yair Lapid and former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett have prevented such a move up to this point. But she urged Lapid, who is not a Sabbath-observer, to seize the “window of opportunity” to operate the train on the Sabbath.

“I call on the prime minister not to waste the historic window of opportunity that has opened and to join me in changing the face of public transportation in Israel.”

Michaeli claimed that stopping the train for the Sabbath would cause “real harm” to those citizens who do not own a private vehicle.


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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.