The Tel Aviv-Jaffa municipality petitioned the High Court of Justice on Wednesday against Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz and Ayalon Highways Co., demanding to resume construction work on the Yehudit Bridge.
In late August, Katz decided to halt planned construction work on the new pedestrian and cycling Yehudit Bridge, which will connect Yigal Alon Street and the Montefiore neighborhood.
The plans entail closing parts of the Ayalon Highway over the course of six weekends starting August 31, 2018. Each time, one direction of the Ayalon Highway was to be closed to traffic for 24 hours, from 6pm Friday to 6pm Saturday.
In its petition, the Tel Aviv-Jaffa municipality said it has yet to receive an explanation why the Transportation Ministry decided to halt the construction work, despite repeat requests and after the ministry received an extension on the deadline to provide such an explanation.
The municipality asked the court to issue a temporary injunction that would suspend Katz's decision to postpone or halt the construction work on the bridge and would require Ayalon Highways Co. to resume the work as planned until the court rules on the petition.
"What possessed the transportation minister all of a sudden? Why did he decide, on a whim, to order a government company without having the authority to do so? The answer to that is known: Political pressure, which is of course a clear foreign consideration," the Tel Aviv-Jaffa municipality wrote in its petition.
The municipality's petition argued that "the delay in the construction of the bridge and the foot-dragging on the matter is causing serious damages to the residents of the city of Tel Aviv and the greater Tel Aviv area."
The petition also claimed Katz's decision to postpone the construction works was unlawful, as he has no authority to order Ayalon Highways Co., and more specifically he has no authority to give the company orders with regards to work on Shabbat, the Jewish day of rest.
This, the municipality claims, was determined in a legal opinion by the Transportation Ministry's legal advisor, which was approved by Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit only a year ago.
"The construction works in question have already been coordinated with all relevant bodies and planned long ago and were supposed to take place during six specific weekends," the petition said. "At the last minute and right before the work was due to start, it became clear respondent 2 (Ayalon Highways Co.) had no intention of carrying it out in light of a rushed and clearly unlawful instruction by respondent 1 (the transportation minister)."
Katz's decision to postpone the planned construction of the bridge over the weekend came after ultra-Orthodox parties in the coalition protested the fact the work was due to take place on Shabbat. Katz ordered Ayalon Highways Co. to submit new plans to carry out the construction in other ways, including late at night, "as has been done in similar cases in the past and as is common both in Israel and abroad."
The Transportation Ministry offered the following response to the story: "The petition has yet to be received by the ministry."
The Ayalon Highways Co. company declined comment.
Roi Rubinstein contributed to this report.