Supermarkets blocked from opening on Shabbat under 'mini market' bill

Neemanei Torah VaAvodah, a liberal religious-Zionist lobbying group, said that Deri was "fanning the flames" of religious-secular tensions instead of calming them ahead of municipal elections.

AM:PM store in Tel Aviv. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
AM:PM store in Tel Aviv.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Interior Minister Aryeh Deri has utilized the ‘mini-markets’ bill approved by the Knesset in January to block municipal bylaws approved by four cities to allow some businesses to open on Shabbat.
The law was highly controversial and was seen by opponents as a religiously coercive step that failed to include a broader dialogue about how Shabbat is observed in a diverse society.
The four cities are Modi’in, Holon, Givatayim and Herzliya. The first three passed their municipal bylaws approving the opening of a greater number of businesses on Shabbat before the Knesset law was approved, whereas Herzliya passed its bylaw afterward.
Deri has already blocked a similar bylaw for Rishon Lezion, which also passed its ordinance before the Knesset bill was enacted.
Director of the Interior Ministry Mordechai Cohen wrote to the Modi’in municipal authority last month saying that the interior minister could not approve the bylaw “in its current format,” but added that the Modi’in council could resubmit a new bylaw for consideration which is “commensurate with the new arrangements.”
Neemanei Torah VaAvodah, a liberal religious-Zionist lobbying group, said that Deri was “fanning the flames” of religious-secular tensions instead of calming them ahead of municipal elections in October.
The organization noted, however, that the law will not lead to the closure of any mini-markets in these cities and others since many such stores already operate illegally on Shabbat anyway.
“We call on mayors not to be dragged into another civil war because of Minister Deri, and rather to allow a respectful dialogue regarding Shabbat in the public domain in the spirit of the Gabison-Medan covenant, a broad document providing for various accords and compromises over religion in the public realm.”
The Israel Be Free secularist group blamed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon for having given Deri “the keys to close businesses on Shabbat,” a key he has now put into use.
“After they chose to injure various minorities in Israeli society in a systematic way, they have now declared war on the majority of the public which does not intend to live on Shabbat as it is in Bnei Brak,” said Israel Be Free director Uri Keidar.
The National Union, a component party of the Bayit Yehudi Knesset faction, welcomed Deri’s decision.
“Shabbat is not a private issue, it is part of the national identity of the entire State of Israel,” said the party in a statement to the press.
“Strengthening Shabbat and the Jewish identity of the State of Israel is a supreme value of every citizen of Israel.”


Tags aryeh deri