The Tel Aviv-Jaffa Municipality must enforce municipal bylaws which prohibit the operation of businesses on the Jewish Sabbath (Friday sunset through Saturday sunset), the Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday. The court ruled in favor of an appeal filed by food retailers in the city against a decision by Tel Aviv Administrative Court Judge Esther Covo from February 2012, who refused to order the closing of businesses on the Jewish Sabbath.
Supreme Court Judge Miriam Naor, Elyakim Rubinstein, and President Asher Grunis ruled that the Tel Aviv-Jaffa Municipality must enforce municipal bylaws in order to uphold the law. "With its present conduct, the municipality in practice allows the ongoing violation of this law. There is also concern that it is convenient for the municipality not to uphold the law in view of its profits from the levying of fines."
Judge Rubinstein said that he hoped that "an enforcement solution would be found to uphold the law, honor the Sabbath, and the residents of Tel Aviv."
The Tel Aviv-Jaffa Municipality said in response, "Tel Aviv-Jaffa will continue to be a free city. We will study the ruling and find a solution to balance the Sabbath day of rest and the freedom that the city allows, as it has done until now."
The ruling will affect supermarket chains AM:PM Ltd. and Tiv Taam Holdings 1 Ltd. (TASE:TTAM), which are open on Saturdays.
AM:PM said in response, "We will obtain the ruling and study it."
Tiv Taam said in response, "The ruling states that the Tel Aviv Municipality has 60 days to decide on a policy that will properly balance the different interests of the city's residents. The issue has been put on the Tel Aviv Municipality's doorstep, but it has wider ramifications. We are confident that the Tel Aviv Municipality will adopt a proper policy and will keep the religious-secular status quo for the benefit of the residents. In view of the national implications of the matter, Tiv Taam will examine the implications after a policy decision by the Tel Aviv Municipality."
Hiddush for Religious Freedom and Equality executive director Rabbi Uri Regev called on the Tel Aviv-Jaffa Municipality to change the bylaw at the next city council meeting to allow the opening of convenience stores and supermarkets on Saturdays and holidays.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on June 26, 2013
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