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      Meretz Gives Free Rides in Challenge to Sabbath Laws

      The left-wing Meretz party offers free busing on the Sabbath as it takes on the religious-secular “status quo.”
      By Maayana Miskin
      First Publish: 6/10/2012, 12:26 PM

      Women boarding bus.
      Women boarding bus.
      Flash 90

      The Meretz party has begun offering free rides on the Sabbath as part of a campaign to change the religious-secular “status quo.” This Sabbath, bus lines ran from the cities of Kfar Saba, Raanana and Herzliya to the Hof Hasharon area.

      Meretz is pushing for public transportation to continue over the course of the Sabbath. Currently, public transportation stops in almost all Israeli cities in respect for the Sabbath, when Jews are prohibited to use motor vehicles.

      Approximately 200 people took advantage of the free busing.

      Among them was MK Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz), who joined in as an act of protest. “Public transportation on the Sabbath is a vital service with social and environmental value,” he argued.

      Horowitz accused the Transportation Ministry of “religious coercion” and said ministry officials have made it needlessly difficult to operate public transportation on the Sabbath.

      The city of Tel Aviv recently approved a proposal to operate public transportation on the Sabbath. A survey on the topic found that Israelis are divided on the controversial issue, but that the division does not run neatly along religious lines.