Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz
Transportation Minister Yisrael KatzBen Dorei/Flash 90

The haredi headquarters of the Likud on Saturday night expressed support for Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz on the issue of the government dispute over infrastructure work on Israel’s train system on Shabbat.

The haredi parties, Shas and United Torah Judaism, had issued an ultimatum Thursday evening, demanding that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu restrict work by the state-owned rail company during the Jewish holy day. Giving Netanyahu 24 hours to comply, the two coalition partners threatened to bolt the government if their demands were not met.

On Friday, Netanyahu agreed to the demand and ordered that only work in potentially life-threatening situations would be permitted on Shabbat.

On Saturday night, Finance Committee chairman MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) attacked Katz, saying, “The work could have been done on a weekday and not on Shabbat. There was no agreement to work on Shabbat. The lie is part of the profession of Yisrael Katz. We saw this in the last two months when he lied us for his own political reasons.”

In response, the haredi headquarters of the Likud said in a post on Facebook, "The Sabbath is the property of the Jewish people and is not a private property of Aryeh Deri or Moshe Gafni. It is most serious that politicians exploit the holy Sabbath for personal vendettas and as a tool to defame the Prime Minister and the Transportation Minister.”

"Unfortunately, since the establishment of the state, infrastructure projects have taken place on Shabbat. The Likud government made a point and continues to make sure that only life-saving work is done on Shabbat, as opposed to leftist governments that were interested in the deliberate desecration of the Sabbath,” the post added, referring to those haredi politicians who criticized Katz as “cynical politicians.”

“We will continue to work, together with representatives of the Likud, to maintain Israel as a Jewish State through the conservation of existing arrangements regarding Shabbat,” the post concluded.