JERUSALEM — Jerusalem's Rabbinical High Court on Friday banned ultra-religious Jews from demonstrating this weekend against the screening of films on the Sabbath to avert a repetition of clashes that marked previous protests.
Public protest meetings held over the last five weekends were marked by street disturbances as ultra-Orthodox Jews tried to march into central Jerusalem to demonstrate against the film shows, which they say desecrate the Sabbath. The Jewish Sabbath lasts from sundown Friday until sundown Saturday.
Police used water cannon and tear gas to keep the ultra-Orthodox Jews in their own neighborhoods and prevent them from clashing with secular Jews, who resent religious control over everyday life in Jerusalem.
About one-third of the city's 320,000 Jews are ultra-Orthodox--a higher proportion than anywhere else in largely secular Israel.
The Rabbinical Court made the ruling after a meeting on Friday that included Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, Religious Affairs Minister Zevulun Hammer and Jerusalem mayor Teddy Kollek.
The Rabbinical Court said it made the decision for the good of the public.
Informed sources said Shamir called for a return to the status quo, which prevailed at the start of the summer, before cinemas started showing films on Saturdays.