In the wake of a flurry of recent public discourse relating to work on the publicly-owned Israel Railways on Shabbat, Minister of Education Naftali Bennett reiterated this afternoon (Monday) his commitment to the Jewish Shabbat as a national and global value:
"The nation of Israel gave the great gift of the Shabbat to the entire world, and it does not make sense that in the Jewish State, of all places, we, and certainly organic bodies of the State, would transgress the Shabbat in vain," Bennett said in an interview with Channel 20.
At the same time, Bennett refrained from delving into specifics regarding his allegiances: "I'm not going to give grades and get into the argument between the Minister of Transportation and the Prime Minister."
"I have three more days to open a new year of school for over two million Israeli schoolchildren, so I'm focusing on that at the moment. No less important is that, in the coming year, we're coming out with a new program for "Israeli Judaism" for kids in public schools. The Bible and the Land of Israel do not only belong to the religious; they belong to all of Israel, therefore we will give this great gift to all of Israel."
Last Friday, a coalition crisis was averted when Netanyahu capitulated to the demands of haredi parties to order a halt to all work involving non-life-threatening situations on the publicly-owned Israel Railways on Shabbat. Nevertheless, the ire of haredi parties was reignited when, the very next day - Shabbat - camera crews and other non-essential personnel were allowed to work at the Tel Aviv Hashalom Train Station. The parties blamed Transportation Minister Yaakov Katz for allowing the work to proceed.