In a letter to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, the heads of chareidi parties demanded that the government reject a bill that would allow Tel Aviv to change its local laws to allow businesses to remain open on Shabbos. The letter was signed by Interior Minister Rabbi Aryeh Deri, Health Minister Rabbi Yaakov Litzman and Knesset Finance Committee chairman Rabbi Moshe Gafni. Reports said that Jewish Home chairman Naftali Bennett was approached about signing, but refused to do so.
The Tel Aviv municipality last week approved a measure that would allow businesses to open on Shabbos, with grocery stores and candy stores allowed to remain open on certain streets. The letter demands that the government oppose the change, and institute legislation to prevent Tel Aviv from making the change.
“We cannot and will not be a party to the damage to the honor of Shabbos, and we thus demand that the government render a clear decision against the implementation of this law,” the letter said. “The law would be a major blow to the status quo on religious matters, which prohibits work on Shabbos. A decision against the law is necessary in order to emphasize the importance of Shabbos.”
While the law is an internal Tel Aviv matter, the government has the option to block it, as the law contradicts the Basic Law of Rest, which requires businesses in Jewish cities to remain closed on Shabbos. In order to prevent the implementation of the law, the government would have to specifically ban it; failure to act would allow it to be implemented. Speaking Tuesday, Rabbi Deri said this was not an option. A meeting on the matter is planned with government officials to attempt to resolve the matter.