Court bans Uber ride-sharing activity in Israel

Judge says drivers without taxi licenses cannot pick up passengers due to lack of insurance

Illustrative: Line of taxis waiting for passengers (Kobi Gideon/Flash90)
Illustrative: Line of taxis waiting for passengers (Kobi Gideon/Flash90)

The worldwide ride-sharing service Uber will have to stop operating in its current format in Israel this week, a court ruled on Monday.

Tel Aviv District Court Judge Eitan Orenstein said he could not allow the company to continue the services because the drivers, who are not licensed to drive taxis, lack appropriate insurance for passengers.

At issue were the company’s UberDAY and UberNIGHT ride-sharing services. But he said Uber’s regular taxi service, which is licensed and insured, could continue.

Israeli law does not currently allow a driver who lacks an appropriate license to pick up passengers and charge for rides, as Uber drivers do in more than 600 cities around the world.

Uber has gotten around the limitation by defining its service not-for-profit and maintaining that it is merely “reimbursing” its drivers for the cost of maintaining their cars.

In that way, it has been undercutting licensed companies such as Gett Taxi, which brought the action against Uber along with the Tel Aviv union of taxi drivers.

Gett, which like Uber provides an app to order rides, is a standard taxi company whose licensed vehicles are recognizable as cabs.

They are among the many taxi companies that have been pressing the government to clamp down on Uber.

In May, Israel’s Transportation Ministry filed an indictment against Uber at the Tel Aviv Traffic Court for operating without a license.

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