JERUSALEM (JTA) — Some 200 Israelis rode buses for free as part of a Meretz Party drive to show that public transportation is needed and wanted on the Jewish Sabbath.
The free buses on Saturday ran from Kfar Saba through Ra’anana and to the beach in Herzliya, according to reports.
The issue of offering public transportation on Shabbat came to the fore in February when the Tel Aviv City Council voted 13-7 to approve a resolution allowing public transportation to run on Saturdays.
But asked to approve the new schedule, Israel’s Transportation Ministry said in a statement that "There is a decades-old status quo regarding operation of public transportation on Shabbat, and the Transportation Ministry does not intend to violate it."
The municipal resolution provides for the creation of an independent transportation service if the Transportation Ministry does not approve the request.
Members of the council’s Meretz Party, who proposed the February motion in the Tel Aviv Municipal Council, appealed to Israel’s Supreme Court in April.
In general, public transportation does not operate on the Sabbath in Israel, except in Haifa and Eilat on a limited basis. It is part of the "status quo," a doctrine that regulates the public relationship between the religious and secular positions in Israel.