MK Edelstein. Challenging status-quo
Photo: Haim Zach

MKs push for public transportation on Shabbat

Three new bills, submitted by Likud, Meretz and Hadash, seek to challenge decades-long status-quo banning buses from operating on weekends. Religious MKs assert this could undermine Israel's Jewish character

Knesset members from both the opposition and the coalition recently submitted three separate bills calling for the operation of public transportation on weekends.


The bills, filed by Likud, Meretz and Hadash MKs, seek to change the status-quo that has prevailed since the days of Israel's first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, according to which public transportation is forbidden from Shabbat's onset to its conclusion.


The only exception is in Haifa, where public transportation is allowed to operate in limited capacity on Fridays and Saturdays.


The first bill was submitted by Likud MK Yuli Edelstein, who also serves as minister of information and Diaspora, and it calls for allowing public transportation on weekends, in order to enable freedom of movement to sectors who do not own a car.


However, in order to prevent any offense to religious sensitivities the bill seeks to have public transportation operate in limited capacity and to ban it completely in places where the population is predominately religious.


The two other bills, presented by left-wing parties Meretz and Hadash, call for a more fundamental change in the status-quo, and in fact seek to have it effectively annulled. According to the bills, public transportation services will operate on the weekly day of rest as well, with some limited exceptions to the rule.


While religious and ultra-Orthodox parties are naturally expected to lead the fight against the new bills, many other MKs will probably join the battle. In discussions held on the issue during the previous Knesset's term, religious MKs explained that operating public transportation on Shabbat would undermine Israel's Jewish character.


פרסום ראשון: 04.20.09, 09:37
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