Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel / Flash 90
Supreme Court Chief Justice Miriam Naor

The Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled in favor of permitting shops, entertainment centers and drugstores in Tel Aviv on Shabbat. The decision, written by Court President Miriam Na’or, said that the 2014 bylaw enacted by the Tel Aviv municipality is “balanced, takes into consideration the various rights, the city’s image and the status of the Shabbat day.”

The municipal bylaw initially dealt with three areas: the Tel Aviv harbor, the Jaffa harbor, and Hatahana shopping mall. Next, the city council approved a controlled permit for supermarkets to stay open on Shabbat, based on a geographic key. At that point, then Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar (Likud) intervened and pulled the bylaw. Since then, a succession of interior ministers, religious and secular, have been passing the ball on this issue, until the high court felt it had to step in.


Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai congratulated the court on its ruling, stating, “As I’ve said four years ago, Tel Aviv-Yafo was and will remain free.”

Knesset Public Inquiries Committee Chairman MK Yisrael Eichler (United Torah Judaism) told Army Radio on Wednesday,” My heart is with the shop owners who’ve been deprived of their livelihood by the Supreme Court. Alas, to make a living and compete in an unrestrained marketplace on Shabbat, they would be tempted to work on Shabbat as well like slaves.”

“The State of Israel is not Jewish without observing Shabbat and not democratic without observing the law,” Eichler concluded. “It’s a Kremlin rule, and it’s a shame the rickety and cowardly Knesset has yet to legislate against Supreme Court rulings that falsify the intent of the legislator based on the Judges’ private agenda.”

MK Bezalel Smotrich (Habayit Hayehudi) issued a statement saying the court’s ruling is serious and dangerous, and will be followed by mass desecration of the Shabbat in other municipalities. “Desecration of Shabbat damages the state’s Jewish character as well as hurts important social values,” Smotrich said, warning, much like his Haredi colleague, that the law creates modern slavery in order to cater to the selfish needs of a social group which insists on doing its shopping on Shabbat.

Smotrich called on his Haredi coalition colleagues to demand that Prime Minister Netanyahu activate the item in their coalition agreement which determines that should the Supreme Court damage the country’s religious status quo, it would be remedied immediately through legislation.