The Tel Aviv District Court ruled that Ramat Gan City Hall may not include a shabbos closure demand on a branch of AM:PM which applied for an operating license in the city. The city tried to obtain a commitment from the store to close its doors on shabbos and yomtov as a prerequisite to issuing an operating license but the court would not hear of it, stating such a request does not have the support of the law.
Justice Esther Kovo had harsh words for Mayor Tzvi Bar and ordered the city to pay for the store’s operating license and a 50,000 NIS fine. City Hall explains the decision to seek to compel the shabbos closure has more than just shabbos in mind, but also ecological concerns, safeguarding the health of the public and seeking to distance worrisome individuals from the area.
Judge Kovo rejected any attempt to link granting a business operating permit with religious observance, disqualifying what the court views as the city’s effort to use its administrative authority to advance its status-quo agenda. “While for the shomrei mitzvos residents of the city would prefer running things in accordance with Halacha, one must also consider the affront to the lifestyle of the non-observant”, the court added.
About the city’s argument that the opening on shabbos is a nuisance, the judge asked sarcastically, “There is no nuisance on the other six days of the week, just shabbos?”
The court added, “the argument that the existence of the bylaw is needed to keep the ‘environment’ and ‘public health & welfare’ are not supported by the evidence presented”.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)