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Public transport on Sabbath becomes political dispute

Israeli Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz is catering to right-wing religious voters by opposing a bill allowing public transportation on Saturdays, ignoring the poor people who depend on such services.
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stands with Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz (C) and Finance Minister Yair Lapid (L) during a groundbreaking ceremony for a new port in Ashdod October 28, 2014. Israel's government, looking to break up the monopoly of two state-owned ports in Haifa and Ashdod through which nearly all exports and imports pass, recently approved erecting private ports adjacent to the current ones. The move, it says, will bring down the cost of goods across the board. REUTERS/Amir
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On April 9, the eve of the second holiday of Passover, Minister of Transportation Yisrael Katz shared a short post on his Facebook page: “Without buses, without the handful of protesters, just a hike in HaTeomim River. Happy holiday.” Next to the provocative message was a photo of the minister hiking on a beautiful green trail alongside a religious family.

This post was another move in the public battle that has developed in recent days between Katz and activists promoting public transportation on the Sabbath. It all started when activists posted a demand to change Israel's long-standing policy that forbids public bus companies from operating on Saturday. Katz accused them of being leftists waging a political attack. Since then, the battle on social networks has developed into protests in front of Katz’s house in Moshav Kfar Ahim in the south. On the eve of the holiday, several dozen protesters arrived at his home, among them a Knesset member from the Meretz Party, Tamar Zandberg, who presented a bill to allow public transportation on the Sabbath.

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