Finding the right balance
Interior Minister Gideon Saar jeopardizes accessibility to Tel Aviv convenience stores on Shabbat
Interior Minister nixes amendment that would allow small markets and convenience stores to operate on Shabbat in Tel Aviv. Hiddush CEO Rabbi Uri Regev wonders if this is a move for ultra-Orthodox political support.
Israel's Interior Minister Gideon Saar struck down a proposed amendment to a Tel Aviv bylaw that would allow small markets and convenience stores to legally operate in the city on Shabbat.
This decision comes after a lengthy political and legal battle in which the Supreme Court previously pressed the Tel Aviv Municipality to better enforce an already-existing bylaw which forbids grocers from operating their businesses on Shabbat. Until recently, many businesses continued to open their stores on Shabbat and simply paid the fine as a small price for the weekend business hours.
In response to the Supreme Court's request, the Tel Aviv Municipality proposed an amendment to the bylaw that would allow a certain number of convenience stores and small markets to legally operate on Shabbat without a fine. Minister Saar subsequently rejected the amendment, claiming it was a "slippery slope," and would lead the way to more businesses operating on Shabbat throughout the country.
Minister Saar approved the operation of certain convenience stores located in gas stations and the businesses in the Tel Aviv and Jaffa ports, which are located in peripheral locations.
Hiddush strongly believes the Tel Aviv municipality must strike an appropriate balance between the needs of the city's residents for convenience stores, mostly selling food items, and the desire to maintain the spirit of Shabbat
Hiddush CEO Rabbi Uri Regev criticized Minister Saar's role in Tel Aviv's struggle over finding the right balance for Shabbat. He said striking down the proposed amendment was, “surprising and disappointing. The Interior Minister's decision makes one wonder whether he has already begun investing in the ultra-Orthodox parties in hopes for their support for his candidacy for prime minister.”
Hiddush's call against the Interior Minister's decision is joined by many, including Tel Aviv mayor, Ron Huldai. Huldai said that this latest development sets Tel Aviv back at least a decade and he promised to challenge Minister Saar's veto.
“The municipality decision [to allow certain business to operate on Shabbat] is measured, balanced, and reflects the prevailing reality for many years…the city amendment preserves the character of Shabbat in Tel Aviv and cities similar to it,” he said.
Rabbi Regev agreed with Mayor Huldai's sentiments and said that, "The Tel Aviv City Council amendment represents the interests of Tel Aviv residents, and raises anew the need to remove from the government’s control its ability to cancel amendments and intervene in the way the residents determine the character of their city.”
Rabbi Regev emphasized that, "the necessary balance cannot be struck only by allowing certain gas stations and peripherally-located businesses to operate on Shabbat. Hiddush strongly believes the Tel Aviv municipality must strike an appropriate balance between the needs of the city's residents for convenience stores, mostly selling food items, and the desire to maintain the spirit of Shabbat."