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Tel Aviv supermarkets can stay open on Sabbath

Court ruling partly a consequence of just-resigned interior minister Saar failing to intervene

An Israeli supermarket. (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
An Israeli supermarket. (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Supermarkets in Tel Aviv may remain open on the Sabbath, a municipal court ruled.

Tuesday’s ruling denied a city request that the court require the stores to heed municipal attempts to keep stores closed on Saturdays.

It is illegal in Israel to open retail businesses on the Jewish Sabbath, which begins at sundown Friday and ends after sunset Saturday. Businesses that remain open are levied modest fines.

More than a year ago, Israel’s Supreme Court ordered the Tel Aviv-Jaffa municipality to enforce a by-law that bans its businesses from opening on Saturday.

The municipality had been working to find a way to allow a percentage of the city’s grocery stores to receive permission to remain open on Saturdays, using an amendment to the existing law. The stores would have been spread throughout the city, with fewer open in areas that are more religious and more in secular areas. But outgoing Interior Minister Gideon Saar did not approve the amendment.

Since Saar did not respond either in the affirmative or negative to the amendment request, the court ruled Tuesday that the amendment became valid.

Under the ruling, most stores operating on the Sabbath in Tel Aviv can continue doing so, and the Tel Aviv municipality cannot submit new requests to close down businesses operating on the Sabbath, according to the Israeli business daily Globes.

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