Cities scramble to pass legislation to allow Shabbat desecration

Cities across Israel are scrambling to pass legislation that will open businesses on Shabbat before the Supermarket Law passes.

Tzvi Lev,

Head of Finance committee Moshe Gafni attends FInance committee meeting
Head of Finance committee Moshe Gafni attends FInance committee meeting
צילום: Miriam Alster / FLASH 90

Mayors throughout the country are taking advantage of the delay in passing the Supermarkets Law and are rushing to pass municipal bylaws that will allow business owners to open supermarkets on Shabbat and holidays.

The Supermarket Law would grant the Interior Minister the powers to disqualify municipal bylaws promoted by the local authorities, effectively shutting down supermarkets that had been operating on the Sabbath with permission from the local authority. The law is a response to a Supreme Court ruling that permitted Tel Aviv to legislate bylaws enabling businesses to open on Shabbat that circumvents existing legislation forbidding it.

However, the law does not apply retroactively, meaning that any bylaws already passed would not be invalidated. As the law's passage has been delayed due to Yisrael Beytenu's opposition, city councils across Israel have been scrambling to quickly pass laws that would enable Shabbat desecration.

Givatayim Mayor Ron Cunik is expected to approve a decision on Monday in the city council that will permit supermarkets to open on Shabbat. Rishon Lezion and Modi'in are expected to follow and the haredi MKs are furious.

"We are discussing this issue and we have found a solution to the matter. We won't let this happen" MK Moshe Gafni, chairman of the Finance Committee, was quoted as saying in an interview with the haredi Yated Ne'eman newspaper.

MK Bezalel Smotrich (Jewish Home) has also vowed to block laws that enable Shabbat desecration and recently fired off a letter to the haredi parties demanding that they take action on the matter. "The municipal heads realize that they can change how Shabbat is observed in the public sphere by changing laws which have been in place since the establishment of the state," wrote Smotrich, who warned that the Givatayim decision would create a "domino effect" of Shabbat desecration.




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