Transportation and Road Safety Minister Yisrael Katz has urged Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai to reconsider a recent decision to allow city residents to rent bicycles from a municipal-operated system on Yom Kippur this year, threatening financial sanctions if Huldai should refuse.
According to halacha, operating any kind of vehicle on Yom Kippur is prohibited. However, although Israelis generally observe the ban on driving cars on the holy day, many less-observant Israelis take advantage of the empty streets to ride bicycles and skates.
The city-run Tel-O-Fun bicycle rental program has been an enormous success in the year since it became operational.
Katz insisted on Sunday that allowing Tel Aviv residents to rent bicycles on Yom Kippur would signify a grave affront to “the most holy symbol of the State of Israel.”
“This is a crossing of a line. The Tel-O-Fun project is an important project but, unfortunately, Huldai is using it to further his political agenda and sullying the Jews’ holiest day,” Katz said in a statement.
The minister announced that if Huldai refused to prevent bicycle rentals on Yom Kippur, he would stop allocating Transportation Ministry funds to the project.
“This is an important and successful project, and that is why the ministry has always supported and encouraged the initiative by allocating budgets and paving bicycle paths. But if Huldai decides to break the rules and desecrate this holy day I will halt all aid and ministry support of this project,” Katz said.
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