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High Court Rules Against Sabbath Ban on El Al Flights

The Supreme Court ruled today that the government cannot ban Sabbath flights by El Al without Knesset approval. The decision was handed down on an appeal by employes of the airline who oppose the Sabbath ban on economic grounds.

The Cabinet decreed a week ago that the government-owned airline must suspend service on the Sabbath and religious holidays and set a three-month deadline for implementation of that order. It acted at the urging of Premier Menachem Begin who was under pressure from the Aguda Israel Party to honor a commitment he made when the Aguda Israel agreed to join his coalition last year.

El Al employes fear the ban would cause further losses to the airline which has been in severe financial difficulties for several years. Their appeal to the Supreme Court was based on the law which required government-owned companies to operate on sound economic principles. The high court said the government could not apply the ban without approval by the Knesset Finance Committee. The committee is chaired by an Aguda Israel MK, Shlomo Lorincz.

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