Israel’s Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli on Friday said that she plans to run the Tel Aviv light rail on Shabbat starting next year.
“It is my decision, and I reached it taking into consideration all the important implications [surrounding such as decision] brought before me,” Michaeli told Channel 12
On Shabbat – which starts Friday at sundown and lasts until Saturday at sunset – most of Israel closes, and there is minimal public transportation.
The Tel Aviv light rail’s Red Line, set to open in November, travels through Bnei Brak, an ultra-Orthodox suburb in the central region that generally prohibits cars during Shabbat.
However, these plans could be upended as a result of the general elections, set to take place on November 1. Michaeli’s center-left Labor party is part of Prime Minister Yair Lapid’s bloc, commonly referred to as the “anti-(Opposition Leader Benjamin) Netanyahu bloc.”
Michaeli’s reiteration of her plans to run the light rail on Shabbat stirred outrage among religious politicians, many of whom belong to the Netanyahu bloc.
After Shabbat ended Saturday night, far-right lawmaker Bezalel Smotrich said, “Instead of dealing with the transportation catastrophe that all Israeli citizens suffer from, Merav Michaeli prefers to spread empty slogans.”
He promised that future right-wing governments “will make sure to cancel any decision that harms the Jewish character of the country, and we will preserve the Sabbath and its sanctity as the national day of rest.”