The Supreme Court approved Tuesday an appeal filed by Tel Aviv grocers, and stated that the Tel Aviv Municipality should act more decisively to ensure that the AM:PM and Tiv Ta’am stores do not open on Shabbos.
The judges ruled that the municipality should consider using other enforcement measures, since fines alone fail to meet the purpose of the law.
It was further ruled that under the current situation, the municipality allows the ongoing breach of the bylaw, thereby harming the rule of law. The municipality was given 60 days to decide how it plans to proceed.
The ruling won widespread support among MKs from across the political spectrum.
The Likud Beiteinu’s Tzipi Hotovely said, “The State of Israel is a Jewish state and we must not allow a situation where the free market destroys the living of those who observe the Shabbat. A law is a law, and the Tel Aviv Municipality must uphold it.”
Knesset Member Dov Khenin said: “The Court ruled that the municipality cannot turn the law into a profit machine. It is time for a new arrangement on the matter of Shabbat in the city that would protect the workers, the small businesses and those who still wish to purchase essential goods on Saturdays.”
Labor’s Merav Michaeli said that businesses must be closed on Shabbat, not for religious reasons but for social and cultural reasons.
Meretz’s Nitzan Horowitz, who is running for Tel Aviv mayor, also backed the ruling but said that if elected he would work to change the law.
In 2007, grocers filed a petition with the Tel Aviv District Court, claiming there is unequal enforcement of the law, and while they are forced to shut down their stores on Saturdays in order to avoid penalties, the big chains go unharmed and therefore have a significant advantage, while they suffer significant economic damage.
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