Mayor Nir Barkat
Mayor Nir BarkatFlash 90

Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat is set to stop the Sabbath operations of eight minimarkets in central Jerusalem, according to Army Radio. Secular city councilors said that this is part of a tradeoff Barkat has made with haredi councilors, according to which they will countenance the opening of a new movie complex – the Yes Planet – on Sabbaths.

The affected minimarkets are located between Shivtei Yisrael, Keren Hayesod and Agrippas streets.

The opening of the new movie house on Sabbaths aroused opposition among a very wide swathe of religious and haredi public in Jerusalem, from the extremist-haredi Eida Hareidit, which organized a protest outside the moviehouse, to religious Zionist councillors who also protested the move.

The Jerusalem Municipality did not deny the report. “There is no change in the status quo that has been in place for several years in Jerusalem, according to which cinemas in the city are allowed to open on Sabbaths,” it said. Regarding the bylaws on opening stores on Sabbaths, it added: “The municipality's legal advisor instructed that various areas in the city be set aside for lessened enforcement (Ein Kerem, Talpiot, Atarot and the southwestern part of the city), and areas where there will be heightened enforcement (the haredi neighborhoods, Kiryat Haleom, the Jewish Quarter and parts of the city center.”

"It is important to stress that in accordance with the law and the status quo, entertainment spots, restaurants and cinemas will continue to operate as usual,” the city added.

Councilor Aryeh King expressed satisfaction Wednesday morning with the decision to enforce the Sabbath laws against the minimarkets in central jerusalem.

"I am glad that the mayor has stood behind his word to take several steps that will strengthen the status of the Sabbath in the holy city of Jerusalem,” he said. “I am very hopeful that this will be the beginning of a new period in which Jerusalem will be truly kept united, in deed and not just in word, and the city's sanctity and that of the Sabbath will be safeguarded.”