Merav Michaeli
Merav MichaeliArutz Sheva

Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli (Labor) has announced that the light rail train in Tel Aviv will operate on Shabbat (the Jewish Sabbath).

Most of Israel's public transportation system does not operate on Shabbat, and Jewish law prohibits traveling on Shabbat other than in order to save a life.

According to Michaeli, the decision is hers to make, and no government will be able to change it.

In an official statement, Michaeli said, "I requested and received from NTA the implications for operating the light rail on Saturdays, and I am happy to announce that, starting next year, the light rail in Tel Aviv and the surrounding area will run on Saturdays. This is my decision. I made it according to all the considerations that were presented to me and this is how it's going to be."

"Public transportation on Saturdays is something that is in my coalition agreement with [Prime Minister] Yair Lapid. It is what I have been working on in the Ministry of Transportation all year. It was in every Labor faction meeting, every week, when I was asked and I when said that I am working on it. You know exactly what prevented it, and now it is not preventing it.

"This is my decision as Minister of Transport. Until now, I wanted to preserve the coalition and I did preserve the coalition. Now there is no coalition to preserve, and there is an enormous civic duty to the Israeli people.

"No government will now reverse a decision regarding public transport on Saturdays because it hurts the weakest people in the State of Israel. It’s not something I am thinking up just now. This is based on staff work that has been done, and there are many other issues that are with the Ministry of Justice.

"I say again, the decision on the light rail is not one that should be made by either the Knesset or the government. This is a decision of the transport minister. And the next Minister of Transport will not reverse it because the train has already left the station. They will not reverse it because it is the right thing to do."

Turning her attack on the Sephardic-haredi Shas party, Michaeli said, "If [Shas leader] Aryeh Deri is so concerned about the desecration of Shabbat, then why should we coerce Shabbat observance only on the weakest and most vulnerable? Why didn't Aryeh Deri demand from any previous government that the entire fleet of government vehicles - the ministers, the directors-general and deputy directors-general, and so on and so on and so on - do not travel on Shabbat? Why can only the privileged travel on Shabbat? I made a decision and I have made sure that within a year the light rail will run on Saturdays, and there is no government that will reverse this decision. I tell you this for sure."

Noam party chairman MK Avi Maoz said, "Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli is not interested in the traffic jams which millions of citizens suffer from each day. Transportation Minister Michaeli is also not interested in the fact that hundreds of thousands of citizens have given up the option of using public transportation during her term."

"There is one thing that very much interests her: Turning the State of Israel into a state of all its citizens. This is the only goal for which she is willing to fight, even at the cost of the suffering of the State of Israel's citizens. Merav, a moment before you end your term, has it come time for you to stop harming the Jewish identity of the State and taking care of the things that really bother the citizens of Israel?"

MK Matan Kahana (National Unity) said, "The status quo is really not holy but issues of religion and state should not be pushed forward in a rush, but only with broad agreements. We must not allow extremist sources from either side to manage the base of the national agreements."