Leon says J'lem tourist attraction should be open on Shabbat

Jerusalem mayoral candidate courting the haredi vote says popular promenade should not be shuttered on Shabbat.

Tags: Moshe Leon
Tzvi Lev ,

Jerusalem's 'First Station' promenade
Jerusalem's 'First Station' promenade

Despite aggressively courting the haredi electorate, Jerusalem mayoral candidate Moshe Leon says the popular First Station pedestrian mall should not be shuttered on Shabbat.

Leon is running against Likud MK Ze'ev Elkin for the position of Jerusalem mayor in the upcoming municipal elections in October. On Tuesday, Leon said during a Facebook argument with Jerusalem political activist Elad Arviv that "the status quo should be preserved" and that "there is no reason to change what is already happening now".

Leon's statement reportedly angered local haredi power brokers, who say that they will not support him if his support for public Shabbat desecration is not rescinded. Leon, who lost to current Mayor Nir Barkat in 2014, is known to be well connected with the haredi community and enjoyed their support during his previous candidacy.

The First Station has become a battleground over the nature of Jerusalem. The Esplanade, which features cafes, restaurants, and local music exhibitions, has operated on Shabbat since its reopening in 2012 over fierce haredi protests.

However, the haredi factions in Jerusalem have managed to bring the issue to a vote in the Jerusalem municipality, which will take place next Tuesday. Sources say that the move has a high chance of passing.