JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s Supreme Court ordered the Tel Aviv municipality to enforce a by-law that bans the city’s businesses from opening on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath.
Tuesday’s ruling came following a lawsuit filed with the court by small businesses in Tel Aviv. The suit was filed against the municipality, as well as two large supermarket chains that remain open on Saturdays.
The justices ruled that the municipality and the supermarket chains violated the municipal by-law against opening on the Jewish Sabbath. The court suggested the city could change the by-law to allow businesses to remain open on Saturday.
The owners of the small shops claimed they were losing customers to the chains that could afford to remain open on Saturday and absorb the modest fines levied for their transgression.
The justices also suggested that the municipality continuously violated the by-law in order to collect the fines.
Tel Aviv was given 60 days to decide how to enforce the ruling.
“Tel Aviv-Jaffa will continue to be a free city. We will study the court ruling and find a solution that will balance the Sabbath rest and the freedom that the city has allowed until now,” the municipality said in a statement.
The Tel Aviv District Court last year refused to rule on a previous petition by the small stores, saying it was a political issue and not a legal one.