Haredi parties demand Netanyahu censure Liberman

The haredi UTJ Knesset faction demands that Netanyahu censure Liberman for attending anti-Shabbat provocation in Ashdod.

Tzvi Lev ,

UTJ co-leader Moshe Gafni
UTJ co-leader Moshe Gafni
Flash 90

The haredi United Torah Judaism (UTJ) Knesset faction is demanding that Prime Minister Netanyahu censure Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman for making a provocative visit to an Ashdod mall on Shabbat in order to decry what he said was the government's creeping religious coercion.

UTJ called on Netanyahu in a statement on Sunday to "rein in Liberman" whom the party accused of "deepening the public rift over the sanctity of the Shabbat".

It added that Liberman's Ashdod visit was "a serious and unprecedented act that was deliberately made with the clear aim of inciting the public against the religious and haredi public and against the holy Shabbat day".

Liberman on Saturday visited Ashdod in the wake of the closure of supermarkets in the city. Following the Knesset’s approval of the Supermarket Law, which grants the Interior Minister the power to override city bylaws allowing stores to open on Shabbat, the city has stepped up its enforcement of a bylaw preventing businesses from opening on the day of rest.

According to what is known as the "religious status quo" agreement from the beginning of the state spelling out the factors that define Israel as a Jewish state in the public arena, foodstores are one of the businesses to be kept closed on the Sabbath. A creeping erosion of the Shabbat aspects of the status quo agreement - which also mandates halakhic marrriage and divorce, kosher food in the IDF and other minimal issues - began with the kibbutzim opening their shopping malls on Shabbat. Other stores, such as those in Ashdod, began opening and now those fighting the Supermarket Law considerr the "status quo" to be keeping those stores open on Shabbat, a total reversal of the agreement's original meaning.

"Anyone who says that the Supermarket Law has no meaning is misleading the public. The Supermarket Law, unfortunately, has far-reaching significance. We see the impact in Ashdod,” said Liberman.

“Until recently they lived in Ashdod in harmony, and now the city is divided and I hope it will not happen in other cities. This split harms national strength. This entire saga just creates unnecessary tension, unnecessary friction. The last thing we want is to see a divided Israeli society,” he continued.

Shas leader and Interior Minister Aryeh Deri had already released a statement of his own slamming Liberman on Saturday night. "I’m fed up with Avigdor Liberman. Liberman trampled the Sabbath and has crossed every line. Even Tommy Lapid, one of the greatest haters of religion, did not dare to do such things. There are things that are beyond personal friendship," said Deri.