“It cannot be that the government authorized work on the holy Sabbath when they’re sitting with us for coalition negotiations,” said a spokesman.
By David Jablinowitz, World Israel News
Haredi Orthodox United Torah Judaism (UTJ) negotiators have pulled out of a meeting scheduled for Monday with representatives of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party to form a new governing parliamentary majority on the heels of last month’s Knesset election.
UTJ sources reportedly say the snub is a reaction to the granting of work permits on the Jewish Sabbath for preparations for the Eurovision Song Contest, which is to take place in Tel Aviv this month.
Delegations began arriving in Israel on Friday for the event and work was already conducted on Saturday, in violation of religious observance of the Jewish day of rest.
The contest is divided into semifinals which are scheduled for May 14 and 16 and the finals on May 18.
The final round is to take place on a Saturday night after the Sabbath concludes at nightfall, but work is due to take place long before the event while the Sabbath is still being observed.
The Shalva band, an Israeli group with Orthodox members, was forced to give up its bid to represent the Jewish State in the song contest as it neared a potential nod in preliminary competition because the members were told that they would have to violate the Sabbath in order to compete in the Tel Aviv event.
Israel was granted the right to host this year’s Eurovision contest by virtue of the victory of its representative, Netta Barzilai, in the 2018 competition. After the victory, UTJ called on Israel to decline the hosting honor due to the anticipated Sabbath desecration.
UTJ and another Haredi parliamentary faction, Shas, which are members of the outgoing government, are considered pivotal potential partners in the new majority coalition that is in the works.
The Likud won 35 parliamentary seats in the April 9 ballot, while UTJ and Shas each earned eight seats. Netanyahu is expected to cobble together a coalition of 65 in the 120-seat Knesset, by reaching policy agreements with other smaller factions.