Michaeli's Shabbat buses initiative lacks coalition consensus
5 December 2021 - globes
Minister of Transport Merav Michaeli is promoting an amendment to traffic regulations, which would allow local authorities to operate buses on Shabbat.
Minister of Transport Merav Michaeli is currently promoting an amendment to traffic regulations, which are open to public comments until December 13, which would allow payments for special journeys by individual passengers. Although the amendment does not mention Shabbat, this would open the door for local authorities to operate bus services for payment by passengers on Shabbat.
However, the Labor party leader will struggle to get the amendment approved by the cabinet. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's Yamina is squirming at the prospect and even arch secular Minister of Finance Avigdor Liberman and Yisrael Beitenu leader has said, "It's not possible to promote something as revolutionary as this in a unilateral way."
Without a consensus on the matter in the government coalition, public transport on Shabbat will remain on paper only. Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid has said that he supports Michaeli's initiative as part of Yesh Atid's world outlook. Yamina, which can veto matters on religion and the state, has not completely ruled out such an amendment but its MKs are split. Nir Orback and Minister of Interior Ayelet Shaked tend to oppose the measure while Naftali Bennett has not yet had his say.
Sources in Yamina have told "Globes" that they would be prepared to discuss the initiative, "as part of a broad debate on the status quo. Any change in the status quo must be conducted through discussion, broad consensus and compromises by both sides."
Liberman has adopted a surprising stance, "We support public transport on Shabbat that is part of our world outlook. But at the same time we must meet the commitments of the coalition agreement, and unfortunately public transport on Shabbat is not part of it."
With the Haredi parties sitting on the opposition benches, the current government has a golden opportunity to promote changes to the status quo. But Yamina will likely have the last word in preventing such changes.