Pending Review

The religious Knesset members can't understand why Shas refuses to quit the government because Dan buses operate on Shabbat. The Transportation Ministry intends to review the matter in depth, in great depth.

MK Yaakov Cohen (United Torah Judaism) eventually managed to remove himself from the plenum. Cohen, you will recall, is the MK who called the Justice Ministry official Amnon de Hartog "a Nazi," and was slapped by him. Yesterday he made do with a less dramatic incident. He stood up and called out to Meretz MK Ran Cohen that the law barring public transportation on Shabbat must be upheld, and simply kept this up until the speaker called him to order a third time and had him escorted out.

The topic under debate was the Dan corporation's decision to stop operating buses on Saturday afternoons. After the decision was reported by the Haaretz Website, the Transportation Ministry announced its suspension pending a review this week. MK Shmuel Halpert, the most veteran Haredi parliamentarian, was s-h-o-c-k-e-d old style. A government ministry, Halpert elucidated, is not merely turning a blind eye to Shabbat desecration, but is compelling a transportation company to continue desecrating the Sabbath against its will.

Public transportation in the Dan region on Shabbat afternoons is the sort of thing that the religious public prefered to repress. The Dan company's decision forced them to look the buses straight in the windshield wiper. MK Nissan Slomiansky of the National Union-National Religious Party explained that "only when Dan became newly religious did I learn that they had sinned."

MK Avraham Michaeli of Shas was sorry he even showed up for the discussion. NRP chair Zevulun Orlev queried him as to how Shas leader and Industry, Trade and Employment minister Eli Yishai, who is in charge of the Hours of Work and Rest Law, puts up with the grievous desecration of the Sabbath.

"There's a limit to how much holding on to the government surmounts the desire to preserve the Sabbath," he maintained. Slomiansky tried to fathom why Dan bus transportation is less important than the Israel Electric Corporation's turbine superheater, for example.

It is fairly common for the relevant minister to be absent from the debate and for another minister to read his reply. But it is rare for MKs to lash out at the minister as they did to Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz yesterday. "I am profoundly ashamed to stand here talking when the reply has already been written. This whole game must be called off. It demeans us," Slomiansky said.

Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann, who replied on Mofaz's behalf, said that "MK Slomiansky's comment is appropriate."