First Station complex in Jerusalem to remain open on Shabbat

Mayoral candidate Ofer Berkowitz welcomes decision: 'If Jerusalem doesn't belong to everyone, it won't be at all.'

Mordechai Sones ,

Jerusalem's First Station
Jerusalem's First Station
Flash 90

The Jerusalem District Planning and Building Committee decided today that the First Station compound, an entertainment and cultural complex built in a former 19th century train station, will remain open and continue operating on Shabbat.

The District Committee rejected the decision of the Jerusalem City Council as the local planning and building authority to close the compound.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, who voted against the city council's decision, welcomed the regional committee's decision: "I'm pleased to announce that with the regional committee's approval, the station compound that was established in my time will continue to operate just as it does today according to the status quo and the law. The status quo in the city means that there are restaurants and places of entertainment open on Saturdays, and there is no trade in the Jewish part of the city. This is exactly what's happening in the First Station complex and those are rules that have always been in Jerusalem.

"The First Station compound adds great value to Jerusalem and provides a Shabbat option for various communities in the city - for the secular sector, the non-Jewish sector, and for tourists," he said.

Jerusalem Mayoral candidate and Chairman of the Hitorerut Party Ofer Berkowitz, said, "I'm happy the regional committee decided to keep the Station open for the benefit of all Jerusalem residents. Opposition to the compound stemmed from people who wanted to challenge the shared life of secular and religious Jews in Jerusalem. Our struggle and our statements have defeated the extremists.

"The First Station complex is a symbol of tolerance in the city and one of the anchors of its quality of life. All the public in the city must act civilly and responsibility towards each other. If Jerusalem doesn't belong to everyone, it won't be at all," he said.

Councilmember Elad Malka added that "the First Station compound is the solution to shared life in Jerusalem, not the problem. I welcome the regional committee's decision and hope that the Municipality will succeed in creating steps to strengthen mutual understanding and comity in the city."

Mayoral candidate and Saving Jerusalem party Chairman Yossi Havilio expressed happiness at the decision. "The regional committee put a stop sign at various coercive attempts, and we should welcome this. It's regrettable that the Jerusalem Municipality is being hounded by extremist elements and needs the professionals to save it from itself. If we learned anything important from the struggle over the future of the First Station compound is that public pressure works. The fact that this proposal received our strong opposition shows anyone who needs to see that any additional coercion will be received with civil and political opposition of the pluralist public in Jerusalem. The public has to vote in the elections for those who fought for them now and in the past, and not for those who, while in the coalition, gave their hand in silence to the deterioration of the city."