Political Turmoil in Israel Over Shabbat Work on Public Transport System

An Israeli police car drives beside light train to guard it from Palestinian stone thrower

The Jerusalem Post reports: A dispute over work on Shabbat on Israel Railways’ projects threatens to derail not only trains across the country but also Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition.

The dispute over Shabbat work for the second weekend in a row erupted after United Torah Judaism’s representatives on a committee, formed to assess which transportation projects could be completed on the Sabbath, permitted none.

Netanyahu blamed the crisis on Transportation Minister Israel Katz, whose political fate was up in the air at press time Saturday night. Likud sources said there was a good chance the prime minister could decide to fire Katz, a former close ally.

“This unnecessary crisis was initiated by Katz in order to harm Netanyahu’s relationship with the haredi [ultra-Orthodox] community or alternatively to harm the prime minister’s image in the general public,” Netanyahu’s office said in a statement Saturday night.

The statement said there was no reason for the work to be performed on Shabbat in the first place and that it could have been done at another time without hurting the religious population or public transportation users, including soldiers on their way to and from bases.

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