Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz is threatening to stop funding Tel Aviv's Tel-O-Fun bike rental project following the municipality's alleged decision to continue operating the service on Yom Kippur.
Katz on Sunday called on Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai
to prevent "serious damage on the most holy day for the Jewish
The Tel Aviv Municipality responded by saying that bicycles would not be offered for rent on Yom Kippur, stressing that the project was not funded by the Transportation Ministry in the first place.
Minister Katz noted that the municipality "is crossing a red line and breaking every single rule. The Tel-O-Fun
project is an important one, but unfortunately, Huldai is using it for political purposes and hurting the most holy day for the Jewish people.
"We are talking about an important and successful project, which is why the Transportation Ministry supported and encouraged the initiatives by allotting funds and paving special bicycle routes. If Huldai breaks all the rules and hurts this holy Jewish day, I'll stop the ministry's financial support to this project."
Will Tel-O-Fun project be available on Yom Kippur? (Photo: Moti Kimchi)
According to the municipality's decision, subscribers will be able to rent a bike before the start of Yom Kippur and return it at the end of the holy day. The service's call center will be closed throughout Yom Kippur.
The Tel Aviv Municipality said in a statement, "It's unfortunate that Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz failed to look into the details of the Tel-O-Fun service on Yom Kippur before releasing a press release on the matter.
"Contrary to what the transportation minister said, the Tel-O-Fun service will not be available on Yom Kippur and no one will be able to rent bicycles during the day. Anyone with an annual subscription will be able to rent bicycles before the holiday and return them at the end of the holiday, free of charge, so that the holiness of Yom Kippur will not be affected in any way by this move.
"It should be noted that last year, subscribers were also able to rent a bicycle before Yom Kippur and return it at the end of the holiday, but were charged for the rental period, while this year the service will be free of charge."
The municipality further noted that "the ongoing operation of the project is funded exclusively by the Tel Aviv Municipality. The municipality regrets the minister's attempt to harm a project which has proved to be successful as an alternative for public transportation."
Tel Aviv City Councilman Binyamin Babayoff (Shas)
joined Minister Katz and expressed his anger at the municipality as well. Babayoff said over the weekend, "I feel deeply disappointed by the disregard towards this holy day, and I call on council members to work to reverse this decision.
"This is a mark of disgrace on the residents of the first Hebrew city. This isn't a bicycle holiday, but a day of atonement. What the Greeks tried to do unsuccessfully 2,000 years ago is now happening here. I call on the Religious Council and Tel Aviv's chief rabbi to act on this matter with all their might."