Jerusalem District Court Judge Aryeh Romanov has accepted the petition submitted about two weeks ago by the Me'uchadim municipal party led by Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem Aryeh King against the system of free shuttles on Shabbat operated by the city's Hitorerut party.
The judge ordered an immediate end to the operation of the shuttles and that King be paid NIS 7,500 for legal expenses.
"After weighing these competing considerations against each other, I came to the general conclusion that the considerations supporting the acceptance of the petition outweigh the considerations supporting its rejection. The result is that I decide to accept the petition and I order the respondent to immediately stop operating shuttles on Shabbat for free," stated the judge.
Judge Romanov also noted that "it is clear that the harm that may be caused to the proper course of the elections and the purity of the elections if the respondent continues to operate the transportation in the city without compensation. It goes without saying that the respondent may use other ways to convey its messages, which do not involve giving free favors. I am aware of the respondent's claim that it is not entitled to collect money from the passengers, but this harm is not comparable in my eyes to the harm that may be caused to the proper course of the elections and the purity of the elections, if the respondent continues to operate shuttles without compensation."
He wrote in the ruling that "One of the goals of the election laws is to ensure the voter's freedom of choice and to maintain the purity of the elections. Another goal is to ensure equality between the parties in their attempt to reach the voter. Taking into account the value of the shuttle service - a value that may be of greater significance to those who cannot purchase a private car - it seems that there is a reasonable possibility that at least some of the passengers who will benefit from the service provided by the respondent for free, and perhaps also those around them, will feel that they must repay the respondent for the good service she provided them for free when it comes time to vote'".
"Therefore, the same feeling of gratitude and obligation to return a favor for a favor may cause those who did not intend to vote in the elections to go to the polls on election day and vote for the respondent. As for those who intended to vote but did not make up their mind who to vote for, the sense of obligation and gratitude may cause them to vote for the respondent and not for other candidates. This may cause a real harm to the purity of the elections and the discretion of the voter," he concluded.
Aryeh King welcomed the ruling: "I thank the judge for his decisive statement regarding the illegal shuttles campaign whose purpose is to 'hunt' the voters, while offering election bribes in the form of free transportation to the beach."
"Between me and the people of Hitorerut there are fundamental ideological disputes on essential issues. We must stand firmly and uncompromisingly on the principles of either party, but a not cross red lines and dispute within the framework of the law. For a decade in which I have served as a council member, I have had sharp disagreements and debates with Hitorerut, Meretz, and the other left-wing parties in the city council, but I always make sure to conduct myself in accordance with the procedures of a proper administrator and the provisions of the law. It is unacceptable that the people of Hitorerut act with full awareness in a criminal and defiant manner to undermine the existing status quo in the city and with the cynical purpose of attracting voters in its favor at the polls." , he added.
"Just as we worked in the current term to preserve the city's Jewish character and heritage, so we will do again. I call on all members of the haredi parties to join the effort to preserve the sanctity of the city and not to be silent in the face of the public desecration of the Sabbath in Jerusalem," he concluded.
Me'uchadim stated: "It has been proven time and time again that Aryeh King is the only one on the city council and the only candidate who fought and will continue to fight for the observance of the Sabbath and the sanctity of the Sabbath. While everyone is waving banners and slogans, Aryeh is fighting alone for religious observance."