The matter of chilul Shabbos in Tel Aviv has once again moved to the top of the chareidi agenda in Knesset, referring to Shabbos construction on Yehudit Bridge on the Ayalon Highway. The chareidi MKs in Knesset explain that “Shabbos has become the steady workday”, and they are unwilling to continue tolerating such a situation. The pedestrian bridge will also serve bicyclists, connecting between Yigal Alon Street and the neighborhood of Bitzran, east of the Ayalon, and Montefiore neighborhood west of the Ayalon.
MK Uri Maklev insists Shabbos is not the solution for work that must be accomplished, including maintenance work that is not pikuach nefesh. He adds that there does not seem to be an issue closing lanes during weekdays for marathons, so the same must be done to accommodate construction. “There is a solution for every problem satisfying planning and timetables. Shabbos is not the solution” writes Maklev.
Yahadut Hatorah chairman, MK Moshe Gafne adds, “It is a scandal! This will not be permitted, approving extensive Chilul Shabbos, turning Shabbos into a weekday.” According to the report, police commissioner Roni Alshich told Gafne that the work was not pikuach nefesh and that “the police will know how to deal with any decision.”
Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman sent a letter to Transport Minister (Likud) Yisrael Katz, in which he clarified that the expected work is in stark contrast to the status quo. “I was astounded to see that the Ministry of Transportation, under your leadership, is planning, together with the Tel Aviv Municipality and the Ministry of Labor & Social Affairs, to perform work on Shabbos Kodesh for a number of weeks as part of the Yehudit Bridge project over the Ayalon”.
“This is a mass Chilul Shabbos, which constitutes a serious violation of the status quo, severely damaging the tradition of Israel and the feelings of the majority of the Israeli public, chareidim, religious and traditional alike, who see the national day of rest as Shabbos Kodesh,” wrote Litzman. Throughout the generations, the people of Israel have known to observe Shabbos as a sign between HKBH and Israel.”
Litzman went on to write that “beyond the fact that, as far as we know, these are not jobs that are subject to pikuach nefesh and that they can be done on weekdays, this is a violation of the recent conclusion that such works will not be conducted on Shabbos. In your eyes, therefore, I ask you to do all to ensure that this work be not be conducted on Shabbos chas v’sholom.”
The daily Hamodia addresses the ongoing work, which it states represents a sharp increase in the ongoing trampling of Shabbos by government agencies. It is also a headline article in both HaMevaser and Yated Neeman.
Shas MK Yinon Azoulai has turned to both Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Transportation Minister Katz, asking them to halt the Chilul Shabbos.
Azoulai writes, “Today we are in the middle of the month of Elul, the month of mercy and forgiveness, and it seems that there is no more shocking timing that evokes disgust. They erect a bridge in the name of Yehudit during Shabbos, Slichos and the Yomim Nora’im. Moreover, Shabbos Kodesh is one of the signs that symbolize the Jewish people ‘But you shall keep My Sabbaths, because it is a sign between Me and you.’ It is inconceivable that the Shabbos of Kedusha will become trampled on the streets of the Jewish nation.”
Azoulai calls for the “immediate intervention of the relevant parties” in the matter, adding continued Chilul Shabbos is a major violation of the religious status quo, quoting Article 43 in the coalition agreements signed on 4 May 2015, which specifically calls for maintaining the status quo.
Yesh Atid party chairman MK Yair Lapid states, “We have already been in this film. Huge traffic jams paralyzing the lives of all of us because of Netanyahu’s surrender to the chareidim regarding work of the train on Shabbos. You must not let that happen again. The work on the bridge has to be done at a time it least harms the lives of the citizens.”
Meretz party chairwoman MK Tamar Zandberg responded that “in a democratic-liberal state in 2018, infrastructure work should be conducted according to needs and in a manner that is least harmful to civilians, and not to the dark whims of politicians who serve rabbis, not the public. The work is needed as public transportation is needed on Shabbos.”
Avi Gabbai, chairman of the Machane Tzioni Party: Netanyahu does not care about backups. Only those who do not care about the public can surrender so quickly. He does not mind being dried up in backups as we became accustomed to endless waiting in emergency rooms, in the long queues of the Ministry of the Interior offices and waiting for driving tests. Being disconnected is the price of 10 years in the job.
Opposition leader MK Tzipi Livni: This is nothing new with the government of concessions. Netanyahu is not guarding Shabbos, but he is guarding himself. In choosing between the public and political survival, Netanyahu chooses personal survival at the expense of the general public. We must present an emergency coalition against the coalition of extremists.
Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai election committee: The transportation minister’s decision is scandalous. The closure of the Ayalon Highway in the middle of the week will create a transportation catastrophe for the public that will be many times greater than the train’s disruption following the cessation of work on Shabbos. The government has lost its shame and as the public, we must not give in. I instructed the Legal Bureau to examine a petition to the High Court of Justice on the subject. As in the decision to close supermarkets on the Shabbos, this is part of an attempt to change the character of the state and the city.
Minister of Transportation & Intelligence, Yisrael Katz, said that the announcement by the Tel Aviv-Jaffa Municipality yesterday via the Netiv Ayalon Company, regarding the construction of Yehudit Bridge and the closure of the Ayalon Highway to traffic for six weekends, is an outrageous and unnecessary announcement.”
According to Minister Katz, the route chosen for the construction of the bridge seems to be problematic and could cause serious and disproportionate damage to the general public during the weekends.
Following this, Minister Katz ordered the Ayalon Highway Company, which is implementing the project for the Tel Aviv-Jaffa Municipality, to immediately freeze all the work planned for the construction of the bridge. They must now submit plans for carrying out the work in other ways, including during the late nights, as was done in the past and as is customary in Israel and around the world.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)