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Religious-Political Scuffle Leads to Cancellation of Train Services in Israel

Religious-Political Scuffle Leads to Cancellation of Train Services in Israel
Eurovaran [CC BY-SA 4.0], from Wikimedia Commons
Israeli Prime Minister cancels train repairs scheduled on Saturday on demand by the Ultra-Orthodox Party.

Political games caused a major inconvenience for Israelis on Sunday when train services were cancelled following a decision by Israeli Premier, Benjamin Netanyahu, halted the train repairs that are normally scheduled on Saturday. This has caused severe criticism of the government because people found it difficult to get to work in the jammed streets of Tel Aviv.

Religious-Political Scuffle Leads to Cancellation of Train Services in Israel[/tweetthis]

Sabbath is the biblical day of rest and the holiest day of the week for the Jews. This coincides with the Sunday of the Christians. On this day, work is traditionally forbidden. However, thanks to the balance that the Israeli government has been maintaining between religious observances and secular activities, the Saturday repairs haven been carried out without any opposition from the Ultra-Orthodox party. However, following severe criticism for their silence, the Ultra-Orthodox party pressurized the Premier to halt the repairs. As a result, the repairs were not carried out, and the train services had to be stopped the next day.

Thousands of commuters, including soldiers, were left stranded due to train cancellation, which was done under the instructions of the Railway minister, Yisrael Katz. Extra buses were sent to ply on the roads of Tel Aviv to get the commuters to their destinations, but this only resulted in extra-jammed streets and traffic which moved at a snail’s pace.

Netanyahu blamed Katz for the trouble, as he believed that there was no reason for the trains to be cancelled at all. Katz is a traditional rival of Netanyahu, and a number of people believe that this was unnecessary incident caused by power play and nothing else. Netanyahu thundered during a cabinet meeting following this incident that ministers are in power to solve issues, and not create them -a comment clearly directed at Katz.

The Ultra-Orthodox Party (Haredim) asserts that the Jewish nation should follow God’s laws to the letter. It is a powerful party that forms a huge support for the Netanyahu-led government. The party threatened that if the repairs were not cancelled, it would leave the government. As such, the Prime Minister seems to have had little choice but to accept the demand. However, critics and citizens have accused the Premier of not caring about the people as for the demands placed by the Haredim.

Government sources say that the Ultra-Orthodox Party will not be making any more demands or threats to leave the government. In all, this incident shows the amount of influence the Haredim wields over the Israeli government and the nation’s daily life. 


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