Israel Railways
Israel Railways Miriam Alster/Flash 90

At the request of the haredi parties Shas and United Torah Judaism, it was decided on Thursday evening to cancel 17 out of 20 railway infrastructure projects that were to be carried out on Shabbat.

According to The Marker, there will be only work in three locations where it was determined that not performing the work could lead to a life-threatening situation.

Due to the cancellation of the infrastructure work, train service on Friday and Saturday night at those locations will be cancelled.

The haredi parties, Shas and United Torah Judaism, had issued an ultimatum last Thursday, demanding that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu restrict work by the state-owned rail company during the Jewish holy day. Giving Netanyahu 24 hours to comply, the two coalition partners threatened to bolt the government if their demands were not met.

A day later, Netanyahu agreed to the demand and ordered that only work in potentially life-threatening situations would be permitted on Shabbat.

But the issue remains one of contention, with haredi MKs having this week criticized Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz over the Shabbat work and pointing out that the work could have been done on a weekday.

Meanwhile, MKs from the opposition expressed anger at Thursday’s decision to cancel most of the planned work.

MK Itzik Shmuli (Zionist Union) criticized Netanyahu for ordering the stoppage of the work, thus making life difficult for passengers – especially soldiers – whose travel plans will be affected by the cancellation of train service.

“Netanyahu is willing to do anything for his political survival - even sell soldiers as part of a rotten political with the haredim. He should be ashamed,” charged Shmuli.

The Prime Minister's Office said, “Railway officials presented 17 sites where there is no obligation to perform work on Shabbat because not performing the work will not result in life-threatening situations.”

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