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December 27, 2017 1:53 pm

Israeli Cities Scramble to Protect Shabbat Commerce With New Bylaws

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A bridge in the central Israeli city of Givatayim. Photo: PikiWiki Israel. – Several local authorities throughout Israel on Monday began working on bylaws to counter a controversial bill that, if ratified, would give the country’s interior minister the authority to prevent commerce on Shabbat in certain cities. The bill has passed a first hearing in the Knesset.

In the central Israeli city of Givatayim, a local court was petitioned to intervene and issue a temporary injunction against Mayor Ran Kunik’s initiative to authorize shops and stores to remain open for business on Shabbat.

The injunction was issued by Tel Aviv District Court Judge Hagai Brenner, who ruled that Kunik could not lawfully convene city council members for the purpose of amending the municipal bylaw in the matter.

Attorney Uri Paz of the “Shabbat Shivyon” (Saturday Equality) coalition petitioned for the injunction together with three city council members from the HaBayit HaYehudi party.

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Shabbat Shivyon Chairman Roi Lahmanovitz said, “We did the work instead of the Israeli government. I welcome the decision to block a discussion that is entirely for public relations purposes during a municipal election year on the backs of the workers and small business owners.”

Meanwhile, Givatayim Deputy Mayor Vivi Wolfson said, “This injunction is impertinent, and undermines the clear will of the city’s residents.”

The Holon and Rishon Lezion municipalities also announced plans to amend their cities’ respective bylaws to allow businesses to operate on Shabbat.

Mayor Moti Sasson said Monday that he would submit an amendment request to Holon’s city council, to allow 40 mini-markets and convenience stores across the city to operate on Shabbat.

“I intend to do all that I can to preserve the existing status quo in the city,” Sasson said.

The Rishon Lezion municipality on Monday convened an initial meeting to discuss the issue.

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