The Ramat Gan city council on Tuesday approved plans to allow shuttle services along the city’s major throughways on Shabbat - the Jewish holy day. The move prompted members of the ultra-Orthodox political party - United Torah Judaism - to issue a statement condemning the decision and attacking the city’s mayor, Carmel Shama-Hacohen.
"Motivated by selfish interests and searching for publicity, the mayor has crossed the red line, thus staining the city of Ramat Gan with the destruction of religious values and the sanctity of Shabbat,” said the United Torah Judaism leaders, MK Yaakov Litzman and MK Moshe Gafni, in a joint statement.
“Carmel Shama will pay a heavy political price for this blatant move,” Deputy Health Minister MK Yaakov Litzman and Knesset Finance Committee Chairman MK Moshe Gafni said.
The party leaders went on to describe the decision as “shameful and disgraceful” that violates the status quo and ignores the feelings of “tens of thousands” of Ramat Gan residents who observe Shabbat.
They also criticized Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein for giving the city councils authority over the issue of public transportation on weekends. "United Torah Judaism will work with legal experts to prevent the implementation of the disgraceful decision to harm the holy day of Shabbat and the status quo."
Shama-Hacohen said he’s “not bothered” by the fact the decision paints him in a negative light in the eyes of the religious public.
“It’s my responsibility … I meet with the city’s religious public and go to synagogues and none of the people whom I've met, have disagreed with Tuesday’s decision,” the mayor said.
“The people tell me what’s been happening in Ramat Gan over the last seven months since I became mayor is something they’ve never seen before,” he added.