At the request of Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, Jerusalem’s municipality compiled a report on restaurants open on the Sabbath and sought to target those businesses — whose operations were entirely legal — with heavy fines on other matters, Channel 10 reported Tuesday night.
The list was reportedly compiled under former mayor Nir Barkat at the request of Deri, of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, as well as ultra-Orthodox MKs Yaakov Litzman and Moshe Gafni of United Torah Judaism.
Municipal bylaws allow dining and entertainment venues to remain open on Shabbat in Jerusalem, and the report’s legality was questionable.
According to Channel 10, it went on to detail how such businesses could be targeted for various transgressions unrelated to Shabbat.
Reut Cohen, owner of the “Diner” restaurant, was incensed.
“This reports means that someone has taken things a step further and is trying to close us by any means,” she said.
Jerusalem’s municipality said in response that “there was no violation of the status quo at any stage. No secret monitoring was done as has been claimed, but rather [monitoring] required of staff.”
The past year has seen growing reports of ultra-Orthodox protesters harassing customers and staff of bars and restaurants in the city center on Shabbat.
In May, the city’s District Planning and Building Committee overturned a non-binding motion by ultra-Orthodox city council members to shutter Jerusalem’s First Station promenade on Saturdays. The promenade is one of the only spots in the city with restaurants open on the day of rest.
In June, Litzman demanded that Jerusalem mayoral candidates promise to shut down a secular nightlife district at the Mahane Yehuda market in the city’s center, claiming it had become “a focal point for debauchery and revelry” and “both an environmental and educational nuisance.” However no candidate endorsed his position.