The Tel Aviv Court for local affairs has rejected a petition by city hall to issue a closure order for a branch of the Tiv Ta’am grocery chain that is open on Shabbat.
The city had argued that the branch in the city’s northern Ramat Hahayal neighborhood was open in contravention of both the old and the new municipal bylaws governing commerce on the Jewish day of rest.
The city stated that the branch on Dvora Hanevia Street was not eligible to receive a permit to operate on Shabbat, as it is larger than 500 square meters. The new bylaw was approved a year and a half ago by the city council, but has not received the interior minister’s approval. However, the city argued that by law the interior minister had only 60 days to delay the bylaw, and since that period has passed, the bylaw should be treated as policy.
The High Court of Justice is expected to rule on several cases regarding this bylaw.
Judge Aviyam Barkai stated that the issue at hand was not whether the business was operating in keeping with the bylaw, but rather what the law actually mandates. In this case, however, the city is looking to enforce the old bylaw, which has already been changed. Furthermore, the new law has not been officially published either, he added. Therefore it cannot be clearly proven that a bylaw was violated in a way that merits issuing a closure order, he said.
The city has withdrawn similar petitions for closure orders, the judge noted.
The municipality drafted the new bylaw in March 2014 following a High Court ruling stating that it had to either enforce or replace its bylaw banning commerce on Shabbat.
The first version of the revised bylaw was rejected by then-Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar. The new revised bylaw states that 164 kiosks and grocery stores that are 500 meters or smaller will receive permits to operate on Shabbat. Since then, the Interior Ministry has changed hands several times and four Likud ministers from have declined to rule on the bylaw. Currently a committee of ministry director generals has been charged with examining the bylaw.