The Ministerial Committee for Legislation failed on Sunday to approve a bill proposed by Meretz MK Nitzan Horowitz, mandating the operation of public transport in Israel on the Sabbath.
Three ministers from secularist Yesh Atid supported the bill versus two Jewish Home ministers and Likud-Beytenu's Limor Livnat who opposed it. This left Justice Minister Tzipi Livni (Hatnua) as the deciding vote – and she preferred to abstain, explaining that the bill is “too sweeping” in nature and that the operation of public transport on Sabbaths must be carried out gradually.
The decision by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation marks the fifth time it has shot down a proposal for operating public transport on Sabbaths, and the second time Horowitz's bill has suffered defeat there.
The bill would have allowed local authorities to decide whether or not to allow public transport on Sabbaths within their territory. Horowitz called Sunday's vote “a capitulation to religious coercion.”
Earlier Sunday, Minister of Interior Gideon Saar announced that several bylaws promulgated by the Tel Aviv Municipality would be annulled, and that the operation of minimarkets on Sabbaths would not be permitted. Only convenience stores in gas stations and businesses that operate in three other locations – the Tel Aviv and Yafo ports, and the Hatachana renovated railway station compound, would be allowed to operate on Sabbath.
Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai said Saar's decision not to allow the opening of Tel Aviv mini-markets on Sabbath “takes Tel Aviv and Israel decades backwards in time” and promised to do all he could “to preserve the city's character.”