Jerusalem city council members from the United Torah Judaism party warned Mayor Nir Barkat Monday that they would not work to prevent passage of the city’s budget if no agreement is reached regarding public Shabbat desecration by the municipality.
According to haredi city council members, the Yovalim community center in Kiryat Yovel held a number of events for the public over this past Shabbat, intentionally causing public desecration of the Shabbat in a neighborhood with a growing haredi population.
Just days earlier a recording of comments by the manager of Yovalim, Yehiel Levy, was revealed on Army Radio. In the recording, Levy was heard planning a campaign to “strangle” the local haredi population, and use the community center to promote intentional desecration of the Shabbat in haredi areas to drive them from the neighborhood.
Following the release of the recordings, Levy resigned from his position.
UTJ representatives pointed to other public Shabbat desecrations in the city, noting they violated pre-existing arrangements with the Jerusalem municipality.
In one case, a community center in the Beit Hakerem neighborhood held an event Friday night, during Shabbat, yet the municipality refused to take action, even denying that the center was a public establishment.
But UTJ city council members pointed out that the building housing the center is owned and operated by the city, and thus the responsibility of the municipality.