Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

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15 Sivan 5765 - June 22, 2005 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Deputy Defense Minister Warns Contractors at Nitzan Construction Site Not to Work on Shabbos

By Eliezer Rauchberger

"All of the companies involved in construction have been notified of the absolute prohibition against working at the site on Shabbatot and chagim, and they have also been warned that any divergence from this directive in the future will bring with it severe steps including suspension from the list of Defense Ministry contractors," said Deputy Defense Minister MK Zeev Baum before the Knesset plenum on Monday in response to a no-confidence motion submitted by Shas on the issue of Shabbos desecration at the Nitzan construction site, slated to serve as the new home for some Gush Katif residents transferred during the disengagement plan. Company workers have also been notified of the directive, he said.

The no-confidence motion was rejected by the coalition in a 36-19 vote with 13 abstentions. Degel HaTorah and Agudas Yisroel representatives were absent during the vote.

A second no-confidence motion submitted by the right-wing parties regarding norms of government conduct under the Prime Minister was also rejected by a majority of the coalition, but this no-confidence motion hinged on a single vote—33 to 32 with 10 abstentions. The ten abstentions by Meretz and Arab party members spared the government from further humiliation following last week's three successful no- confidence motions. In any event, 61 votes are needed to bring down the government.

MK Yosef Margi (Shas), who sponsored the no-confidence motion, protested against the Shabbos desecration and the need to bring in the Prime Minister to halt it. "The primary and fundamental symbol of the Jewish people—the Shabbat—is being roughly cast aside," he said. "We have become worse than the nations of the earth, which are not commanded to keep the Shabbat and a day of rest. Go out and take a look. In non-Jewish countries can you buy things on Sunday? Restore Am Yisrael's soul. Restore values and morality, restore holiness. This is not a disgrace. Restore this nation its sanity."

In his response Deputy Minister Baum also said the work at Nitzan was "only" on Shavuos and that the workers were non- Jews working for a Jewish contractor. Still he did not try to diminish from the severity of the incident, acknowledging "Chilul chag is chilul chag."

Baum said that the Prime Minister intervened personally when he ordered all work halted on Shabbos, as did Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz. "I believe, following the steps that have been taken, that there will not be further deviations and there will not be chilul Shabbos in the construction work, choliloh. I think that just as throughout history even in urgent situations the Jewish people knew how to keep Shabbos and the accompanying mitzvos, so too in the present situation, although it really does necessitate an accelerated rate of work."

During the Knesset debate MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni said that at first Degel HaTorah intended to support the no-confidence vote, but following the actions taken by the Prime Minister and Deputy Minister Baum and after discovering that the work performed on Shavuos was in fact in violation of the directives issued, the party decided not to vote against the government.

In a related issue, Rabbi Gafni lodged criticism against the conduct of MK Reshef Chayne (Shinui) in the area of Kiryat Shmuel near Haifa on Shabbos Night, where there are attempts to allow traffic on a street that had been closed for many years, saying, "Who told you to come on Leil Shabbos and violently pounce on the person in charge of closing the street there?" Rabbi Gafni noted Kiryat Shmuel is a religious neighborhood and the street there should remain closed on Shabbos as it has for over three decades.

During the course of the debate on the right-wing's no- confidence motion an uproar broke out when Minister of Internal Security Gidon Ezra accused right-wing MKs of negligence, corruption and encouraging illegal acts by thousands of youths blocking roads in violation of the law.


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