‘It’s time elected officials set an example,’ says petition creator, in response to Transportation Minister Katz’s dismissive attitude in launching public transport on Saturdays.
By Itay Blumental
After Transportation Minister Israel Katz angered many Israelis this week with his dismissive response to the demand for public transportation on Saturdays and holidays, citizens decided to fight back with a petition calling to bar ministers from using their government vehicles in days public transport does not run.
“It’s important to forbid ministers who prevent the operation of public transportation on Saturdays and holidays from using their government vehicles, which are funded by tax-payers,” read the petition, which has been signed by over 5,500 people so far.
“It’s time all elected representatives set an example to others, especially Minister Katz, who firmly objects to public transportation on Saturdays and holidays, hurting the weaker classes – particularly teens, soldiers, students and senior citizens,” the petition went on to say.
Petition creator Alexei, 33 years old from Acre, says the petition is meant to fight what he considers to be discrimination against people who cannot afford to own a car and are therefore unable to travel in days public transport doesn’t run.
“Minister Katz sits in his Ivory Tower and we’re funding his vehicle on Saturdays and holidays, while he’s preventing people from having public transportation,” Alexei said. “His behavior, and his firm objection to public transportation on Saturdays, is outrageous. A lot of people don’t have private vehicles – like soldiers, senior citizens and students.”
“We too deserve to travel and enjoy the weekend,” Alexei added. “We pay some of the highest taxes in the West, and he has the audacity and insensitivity to determine there won’t be public transportation on Saturdays.”
Alexei said that at present, the protest will focus on obtaining more signatures and raising awareness, and that at the moment there is no intention to go out and demonstrate.
Many Israelis took to Katz’s Facebook page earlier this week to protest the fact there is no public transportation on Saturdays, and were met with a vitriolic response from the minister.
“I will address this matter once. Tell (Isaac) Buji Herzog to commit not to sit in a government that won’t change the status quo,” Katz wrote in response to one of the posts. “The display of hypocrisy by you and your friends on the left … was proven in the last elections and got the appropriate response at the polls.”
A statement issued by the Transportation Ministry took a similar tone. “Those demanding that public transport run on Saturdays and holidays do not represent the majority of public transport users, but rather foundations and groups mostly associated with the left and systematically working against the government, as we saw in the last elections.”
Despite Katz’s claims that the campaign for public transport on Saturdays was led by the left-wing, quite a few members of his own right-wing Likud parties were behind bill proposals to operate public transport on Saturdays in 2007 and 2008, including Gilad Erdan, Yuli Edelstein, Ze’ev Elkin and former transportation minister Tzachi Hanegbi – all Likud heavyweights.
View original Ynet publication at: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4645892,00.html