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Israeli religious parties demand Shabbat shopping ban

The High Court ruled in favour of a Tel Aviv municipal bylaw allowing the limited opening of corner-shops in the city

    Aryeh Deri
    Aryeh Deri

    Israeli religious parties are demanding a new law to prohibit the opening of shops on Shabbat after the High Court ruled in favour of a Tel Aviv municipal bylaw allowing the limited opening of corner-shops in the city.

    For a decade, Likud interior ministers who have the authority to cancel such bylaws themselves have preferred not to act, and last Wednesday the High Court ruled against a petition by the Grocers Union against the Tel Aviv municipality.

    The union claims that shops operated on Shabbat by owners who are not members of the union are driving others out of business.

    The High Court has asked a succession of interior ministers to rule on the issue but after the current minister, Shas Leader Arye Deri, failed to do so, it ruled last week in favour of the municipality, which allows a limited number of shops to operate.

    Mr Deri now claims he was about to sign an order prohibiting trade in Tel Aviv on Shabbat and that the court has “unilaterally changed the status quo”.

    Together with the leaders of United Torah Judaism and Jewish Home, they are demanding the government pass a law bypassing the High Court ruling.

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