Barkat to Open Alternative Parking Lot On Shabbos


nir-barkatA parking lot will be opened in the city on Shabboses to accommodate weekend visitors to Yerushalayim, Mayor Nir Barkat has said, without specifying which lot. The comments came as negotiations continued between city officials and charedi leadership to reach an accord by next weekend that will be amenable to both sides, with talks focusing on the opening of a privately-owned parking lot opposite the Old City walls instead of the nearby city lot.Late yesterday, the mayor again defended his June 12 decision to accede to a request by the city’s police chief to close the municipal parking lot for two Shabboses in an attempt to reach an agreement.

“This was not a capitulation to violence, but mutual respect,” Barkat said at a city council meeting.

The move has been criticized by some secular residents as surrendering to charedim.

“Barkat: There are 9 days left to open up the parking lot,” read a banner raised by two secular demonstrators outside the city hall meeting last night.

The municipal parking lot will remain shut this Shabbos, barring an unexpected eleventh-hour agreement on Friday, Barkat spokesman Evyatar Elad said.

He added that a parking lot would be opened by next week.

The mayor has asked the owner of a privately-owned lot opposite the Old City walls if it could be used on Shabbosos, an official said.

The owner said he would respond to the mayor next week after consultation with rabbonim, the official said.

The privately owned lot is located underneath the Mamilla shopping mall, which also houses a new hotel that will be opened in the coming days.

The Eidah Hachareidis said yesterday that they would not protest a hotel opening a parking lot on Shabboses, but that the issue had to be resolved by next week.

The city lot was originally opened on June 6 in agreement with Barkat’s charedi coalition partners, to accommodate weekend visitors who were illegally parking on main thoroughfares near the Old City due to a dearth of parking spaces.

About 100 motorists parked their cars in the city lot on the one Shabbos it was open.

{Yair Israel/JPost}