Barkat meets with haredi councilmen over parking lot fiasco
Jerusalem mayor offers compromise in meeting with ultra-Orthodox municipal representatives, offers to open Karta parking lot on Shabbat rather than contested Safra lot - but despite positive response from councilmen, haredi protestors are vowing no location will be allowed to open
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat met on Sunday evening with ultra-Orthodox representatives from city council in an effort to ease the tensions brought on by the municipality's decision to open the Safra Square parking lot on Shabbat to help solve the shortage. Both sides characterized the meeting as "good."
One of the suggestions made at the meeting was to open an alternative parking lot, namely the Karta lot near the Old City. This approach corresponds with the position of Jerusalem District Police Chief Aharon Franco, who recommended Karta over Safra.
Barkat and the councilmen also discussed the circumstances that led to the violent ultra-Orthodox rioting on Saturday in Jerusalem.
The Karta parking lot, near the Jaffa Gate, is an ideal solution to the masses visiting central Jerusalem over the course of the weekend. It has remained closed on Shabbat thus far due to haredi resistance that this would lead to the opening of stores in the shopping mall above the parking lot.They also feared agreement on their part would be seen as capitulation. Now however, it seems as though the ultra-Orthodox representatives are in favor of the move.
The protest leaders, however, have vowed they will accept no compromise. Predominantly members of Eda Haredit – an anti-Zionist sect – those who organized the protest said that they would fight any attempt to open the Karta lot.
"This will not be allowed to pass – not Karta and not any other place. As long as we're talking about an (authorized) parking lot – it isn't going to happen," Rabbi Yosef Rosenfeld, head of the Committee for Sanctity of Shabbat, told Ynet.
Rabbi Rosenfeld said he was surprised that the haredi councilmen were considering Karta as an alternative seeing as they have already rejected the possibility in the past due to its proximity to a commercial center. Rosenfeld said he believed that if Karta is allowed to open on Shabbat the struggle would be joined by rabbis from the Old City's Jewish Quarter.
Kobi Nahshoni contributed to this report