Transportation Minister Sets Off Uproar With Decision That Tel Aviv Light Rail Will Operate on Shabbos

The new Allenby underground station of the Light Rail in Tel Aviv. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli (Labor) set off a political storm with her announcement that the light rail train in Tel Aviv will operate on Shabbos.

Most of Israel’s public transportation system does not operate on Shabbos.

According to Michaeli, the decision is hers to make, and no government will be able to change it.

In an official statement, Michaeli said, “I requested and received from NTA the implications for operating the light rail on Shabbat, and I am happy to announce that, starting next year, the light rail in Tel Aviv and the surrounding area will run on Shabbat. This is my decision. I made it according to all the considerations that were presented to me and this how it’s going to be.”

“Public transportation on Shabbat is something that is in my coalition agreement with [Prime Minister] Yair Lapid. It is what I have been working on in the Transportation Ministry all year. It was in every Labor faction meeting, every week, when I was asked and I when said that I am working on it. You know exactly what prevented it, and now it is not preventing it.

“This is my decision as Transportation Minister. Until now, I wanted to preserve the coalition and I did preserve the coalition. Now there is no coalition to preserve, and there is an enormous civic duty to the Israeli people.

“No government will now reverse a decision regarding public transport on Transport because it hurts the weakest people in the State of Israel. It’s not something I am thinking up just now. This is based on staff work that has been done, and there are many other issues that are with the Justice Ministry.

“I say again, the decision on the light rail is not one that should be made by either the Knesset or the government. This is a decision of the transport minister. And the next Transportation Minister will not reverse it because the train has already left the station. They will not reverse it because it is the right thing to do.”

Shas party chairman Rabbi Aryeh Deri said, “Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli is not interested in the traffic jams which millions of citizens suffer from each day. Michaeli is also not interested in the fact that hundreds of thousands of citizens have given up the option of using public transportation during her term.”

“There is one thing that very much interests her: Turning the State of Israel into a state of all its citizens. This is the only goal for which she is willing to fight, even at the cost of the suffering of the State of Israel’s citizens.”

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