Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli ordered the chairman of the Tel Aviv Metropolitan Mass Transit System to carry out an analysis of the operational and budgetary implications of operating the Tel Aviv light rail system on Shabbos and Yom Tov.
She also instructed that he present a plan for the light rail’s operation on Shabbos as soon as the line is activated in November.
The highly controversial step that is contrary to Israel’s religious status quo, taken during an election period, raises questions about Michaeli’s motives for the move.
“Israeli citizens deserve to see the end of the ‘blockade” on the weekends,” Michaeli said. “It is our duty to make it happen. To reduce the gap between those who own a private vehicle and those who do not, to assist in taking vehicles off the road, and to make the change that the State of Israel of the year 2022 so desperately needs. I call on the Prime Minister not to waste the historic window of opportunity that has opened up for us and to join me in changing the face of public transportation in Israel.”
The Shas party responded to Michaeli’s statement by saying: “The Transporation Minister is trying to cover up the disgraceful failure of her term in all areas through a cynical election campaign at the expense of precious Shabbat and the Jewish character of the state. What a disgrace.”
Likud MK Shlomo Karhi wrote a letter to Attorney-General Gali Baharav-Miara demanding that she halt any evaluation or action related to the operation of the light rail on Shabbos during the election period.
“I call on you to immediately stop the brutal, illegal, corrupt, and anti-Jewish step of Merav Michaeli,” he wrote. “This lady has no public mandate to trample the foundations of the Jewish state and kedushas haShabbat. The time has come for you, with all due respect, to wake up from the slumber of the ‘government of dreams’ and function as the one who is supposed to maintain the integrity of the elections, fairness, and the rule of law in the state of the Jewish people.”
From the time Michaeli entered her position, she has been making efforts to advance anti-religious and anti-Chareidi legislation but her efforts were stymied by the pressure applied by religious Yamina members on then-prime minister Naftali Bennett.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)