The Tel Aviv City Council approved on Monday an amendment to local bylaws, whereby a limited number of markets and convenience stores would be allowed to remain open on the Jewish Sabbath and holidays.
The final decision rests with the Interior Ministry, which must approve the amendment for it to take affect.
It is against the law in Israel to operate retail businesses starting at sunset on Friday and throughout Shabbat, and businesses that remain open are frequently forced to pay a small fine of several hundred shekels.
According to the amendment, a number of businesses on several major streets in Tel Aviv would be provided with five-year certificates to operate legally at otherwise impermissible times.
“As in other matter, Tel Aviv-Jaffa must be a groundbreaking pioneer,” said mayor Ron Huldai during debate on the amendment, according to Channel 10 News online.
“We mustn’t turn this issue into a religious war,” he added. “We are all Jews, and Judaism has always had many faces. I am a proud Jew who spends the Sabbath as my day of rest in a way that is different from other Jews.”
In July, the Supreme Court ordered the Tel Aviv Municipality to take action against businesses operating on Shabbat. In their holding, the judges said that the symbolic fines issued to those breaking the law weren’t enough and demanded the municipality “enforce the law.”