Litzman accuses Israel Railways CEO of lying, says canceling Shabbat work won't harm public

The Health Minister added that the ultra-Orthodox parties do not intend to compromise when Shabbat work is concerned.
Photo credit: Israel Railways/Channel 2 News

The ongoing crisis within the coalition over plans to carry out railway infrastructure work on Shabbat refuses to end. MK Yaakov Litzman, Israel's Health Minister and Chairman of the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism party on Friday accused the CEO of Israel Railways of lying to the public by claiming that canceling the work on Shabbat will cause serious delays, cost millions of shekels and ultimately harm passengers.

"I travel a lot and I know where the problems are," Litzman said in a radio interview. "They can do the same work on Thursday night instead of Saturday. The harm to passengers can be minimal, if any. The status quo is no work on Shabbat. There won't be any compromise on these issues."

Earlier this week, JOL News reported that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had agreed to the cancellation of most of the planned work, effectively preventing trains from operating at all on Friday morning and Saturday night in those places where the work is needed.

Sources linked to Netanyahu said his meetings with ultra-Orthodox party leaders did not include any decision to cancel train service. They did state, however, that the government decided to allow only 3 out of 20 scheduled works for the upcoming weekend.

Meanwhile, left-wing Meretz party Chairman MK Zehava Gal'on sent a letter to Israel Railways CEO Boaz Tzafrir on Friday morning, demanding that the work be carried out as planned, including on Shabbat.

"The Ministry of Labor issued work permits legally, and therefore the Prime Minister has no business interfering in this issue, which is not under his authority," Gal'on stated. "As we all know, work permits on Shabbat are issued out of concern that the public may otherwise be deprived of vital welfare services."

Gal'on added in her letter to Tzafrir that if the work is cancelled, she will promote a class action lawsuit against his company.

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