J'lem: New cinema, but not on Shabbat

Barkat affected by haredi pressure on planned movie theater, secular groups say.

March 25, 2010 12:13
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat.

Barkat big face 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

The Jerusalem Municipality Finance Committee approved a plan for the construction of a new cinema complex in the Haleom parking lot opposite the Supreme Court, on condition that it remains closed during Shabbat, Israel Radio reported Thursday.

The city council is reportedly expected to approve the decision Thursday evening.

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Following the report, the Forum for a Free Jerusalem movement said that a cinema closed on Shabbat would not fulfill the needs of the secular population in the city.  The Hitorerut Yerushalayim (Wake Up Jerusalem) movement accused Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat of capitulating to haredi pressures.

The municipality, however, said that the decision to close the complex on Saturday was a result of government policy, which does not allow businesses built on government-owned land to work during Shabbat. The municipality said Haleom parking lot was state-owned.

Finance Ministry sources told the radio station that any petition of land appropriation for public needs must be submitted to the finance minister's advisory committee, adding that no request had been received regarding such a cinema complex.

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