Ashdod Mayor Yechiel Lasry has decried attempts on the part of Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman and other politicians to exploit secular protests about the recently passed Supermarkets Law aimed at curbing business on Shabbos, Ynet reported on Thursday.
“I welcome the social involvement on the matter,” Lasry posted online Wednesday. “But I condemn all attempts by political elements — both local and national — who make divisive, cynical use of the situation for their own benefit.”
The comment was in reference to Liberman and others who took part in protests in Ashdod; the Yisrael Beytenu leader went so far as to make a purchase in the city at an open shop on Shabbos. Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid also participated in a demonstration on Motzei Shabbos in Ashdod against the Supermarkets Law, and accused Netanyahu of “giving in to the chareidim.”
The chareidi parties condemned Liberman’s chilul Shabbos, especially in view of his position as a senior member of the government, and demanded that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu “call him to order.” The prime minister subsequently made a plea for calm.
“Recent developments in the city have brought about a violation of the status quo regarding Shabbat, and I am determined to restore the situation… Ashdod belongs to the secular, chareidi, religious-Zionist and traditional populations,” said Lasry.
The mayor called for dialogue to bring the secular and observant communities together to find a solution to the issue.