The ministerial legislation committee today rejected a bill proposed by MK Yael German (Yesh Atid) that would allow the local authorities to decide whether to operate public transportation on the Sabbath.
German told "Globes" today, "We won't give up. We'll submit the bill again in six months, and again in a year, and again and again until it passes." She added, "The current situation is discriminatory. Public transportation on Saturday is a social matter. It's for young people and adults who don't have cars, and for people who can't afford to run a car."
The chances of the bill winning the ministers' support were in poor from the start, because when the Likud signed the coalition agreements with Shas, United Torah Judaism, and the Jewish Home Party, it undertook "to preserve the status quo in matters of religion and state."
German asserted, "These agreements were dictated by 5% of the Knesset, which has veto power. It's an undemocratic situation. The local authorities should decide whether or not they want public transportation on Saturday. Bnei Brak, Jerusalem, and Netanya can decide they don't want it, but Herzliya, Tel Aviv, Petah Tikva, Beer Sheva, and the outlying areas, where public transportation on Saturday is twice as necessary, should be able to decide in favor."
The Herzliya municipality announced several days ago that it would operate public transportation on the Sabbath. The Saturday routes will begin operating in July. Herzliya Mayor Moshe Fadlon said, "The route will be along main arteries, and will stop near the beach, the park, the medical center, and the entertainment district in the western part of the city conveniently and with equality."
By law, the Ministry of Transport is obligated to allow the local authorities to operate public transportation on the Sabbath. However, Section 386A of the Traffic Ordinance states that a license to operate a public bus on the day of rest will not be granted, except in certain cases, including rides to hospitals, border communities, and non-Jewish communities, plus transportation essential for public security or essential for the existence of public transportation.
In recent years, Tel Aviv deputy mayor (transportation) Meital Lehavi sent Minister of Transport Yisrael Katz a request to operate public transportation on Saturday using taxicabs. She received no answer. In a talk with "Globes," Knesset Economics Committee Subcommittee for Public Transportation chairman MK Dov Khenin (Joint Arab List) strongly attacked the Ministry of Transport, saying, "The situation is criminal. The ministry is breaching its duty to provide public transportation to hospitals on Saturday."
"Criminal indifference and embarrassing surrender"
72% of the Jewish public in Israel supports complete or limited public transportation on Saturdays and holidays, according to a survey published today by Smith Institute, headed by Rafi and Hanoch Smith at the request of Hiddush for Religious Freedom and Equality. Support for the measure totaled 63% in 2011 and 58% in 2010.
According to the survey, 94% of the non-observant public favor public transportation on the Sabbath, as to 67% of the traditional public. Interestingly, 52% of the religious public also supports public transportation on the Sabbath (49% partial transportation and 3% full transportation). 97% of the haredim (ultra-Orthodox) were opposed.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on June 19, 2016
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