Tue | Jul 17, 2018

Religion and politics ground Israeli train line

Published:Monday | September 5, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Israeli Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz arrives to attend the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem yesterday.


Israeli commuters began their work week with massive traffic jams and a cancellation of train service along one of the country's busiest routes following a political scuffle that could shake the governing coalition.

The crisis erupted over the weekend after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, under pressure from ultra-Orthodox partners, ordered routine railway repairs scheduled on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath, to be halted.

Orthodox Jewish law forbids work on the Sabbath, and a religious party in the coalition had threatened to quit the government unless he halted the repairs. Netanyahu's transport minister, Yisrael Katz, cancelled key train routes on Sunday because of the delayed repairs. The government dispatched extra buses for some 90,000 affected commuters.

Netanyahu accused Katz, a senior figure in the ruling Likud Party, of orchestrating the crisis.