Deal Reached: No Railroad Infrastructure Work This Shabbos

A train arrives at the Ahihud Railway Station in northern Israel. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

The heads of the chareidi parties have reached an agreement with Labor Minister Chaim Katz that infrastructure work on the railway system will not take place this coming Shabbos.

Instead, keeping in mind the wider public and trying to keep disturbances to regular work days as much as possible, the work will take place from Friday morning until the beginning of Shabbos and from Motzoei Shabbos until Sunday morning.

Israel Railways advised that the railways between Dimonah and Be’er Sheva will be closed from 5 a.m. Friday through Sunday at 5 a.m. They emphasized that no work will be done on Shabbos.

In a meeting Wednesday night between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Labor Minister Chaim Katz, Tourism Minister Yariv Levin and the leaders of the chareidi parties, Health Minister Rabbi Yaakov Litzman, Finance Committee Chairman Rabbi Moshe Gafni and Interior Rabbi Aryeh Deri, the sides discussed ways to try resolve a dispute over Shabbos train repairs that has put the coalition in jeopardy.

Finally, a compromise was struck Thursday afternoon that will see a significant reduction in the amount of work permitted on the country’s day of rest.

As part of the new compromise, the railway’s administration was asked to submit to Minister Katz a new work program that will include details of a significant reduction in the working hours initially set to be carried out on Shabbos.

Last Friday Minister Rabbbi Litzman said he would quit the government on Sunday if infrastructural work on trains on the Dimona-Be’er Sheva line were permitted to proceed on Shabbos.

After coming to a compromise last week, using non-Jewish workers, Rabbi Litzman said he would resign if a permanent solution is not found to prevent train maintenance work for this coming Shabbos.

In an interview Thursday with Army Radio, Rabbi Litzman said that when it comes to chillul Shabbos, there can be no compromise.

“I am taking Shabbos all the way,” he said. “The railway people think they are fooling us; they have decided to make Shabbos the ‘national renovations day.’ All the work can also be done not on Shabbos.”


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