Israel Cabinet Postpones Decision on Sabbath Traffic Dispute

Israel’s Cabinet today postponed action toward solving the disputed Sabbath traffic in the vicinity of the Mandelbaum Gate, after Prime Minister Levi Eshkol informed the Ministers that a new plan for a possible solution has been proposed. The new plan, he said, has been submitted by Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Nissim in cooperation with the Ministries of the Interior and Police. The new plan, said the Premier, is now being considered by a special ministerial committee.

Meanwhile, the area around the Mandelbaum Gate, where travelers have been hooted, jeered and stoned every Saturday for more than two months, was quieter yesterday than it has been for many weeks. A token police force guarded the route, keeping religious zealots away from the traffic. Some of the zealots did line the roadway, shouting slogans, but there were no altercations.

Police detachments kept sightseers away from the route which had been posted with police signs. The signs requested automobile drivers to avoid using the road on the Sabbath and on Jewish holidays as much as possible. The signs noted that the caution did not apply to diplomats, United Nations personnel, clergy, Israeli defense forces, police traffic, fire brigades, or cars carrying personnel of the Magdn David Adom–the Israeli equivalent of the Red Cross.

A statement opposing any coercion on this issue, either by religious elements or by secularists, was issued today by Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook, son of the late, revered Chief Rabbi Kook. As head of the Merkaz Harav Yeshiva, Rabbi Kook called on all sides to find means for bringing the religious and non-religious camps closer “by way of a dialogue, in order to bring about order and assure a harmonious way of life.”

Another outstanding Israeli scholar, Prof. S. H. Bergman, who is widely respected among the religious elements, today urged the Government to halt the Sabbath traffic disturbances. He stressed the “grave danger inherent in a widening of the gap between the religious and non-religious groups.”

Some 2,000 persons attended a rally in the Mea Shearim quarter this weekend and heard Rabbi Amram Blau, leader of the Neturei Karta zealots, suggest that the issue could be dealt with by introducing a service of “two non-Jewish busses” for transportation of tourists on the Sabbath. Meanwhile leaflets signed by Neturei Karta zealots were distributed declaring a ban on stone-throwing, one of the tactics used by the zealots in their fight against Sabbath traffic. The leaflet proclaimed: “No child will raise a stone against the police.”

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