In a sparsely attended special session held earlier today, Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, passed a bill that adds eleven more days each year to Israel’s period of daylight savings time. The move follows years of protests by secular Jews against the country’s early switch to standard time, which was made in 2005 largely to accommodate haredim.
Let There Be (A Little Bit More) Light!
Israel Extends Daylight Savings Time, Despite Strong Haredi Opposition
Shmarya Rosenberg • Failedmessiah.com
Let there be (a little bit more) light!
In a sparsely attended special session held earlier today, Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, passed a bill that adds about eleven more days each year to Israel’s period of daylight savings time, Ha'aretz reports. The move follows years of protests by secular Jews against the country’s early switch to standard time, which was made in 2005 largely to accommodate haredim.
From then until now, Israel has switched back to standard time each year before Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. Many haredi and Orthodox Jews believe having Yom Kippur fall during standard time makes it easier and more comfortable to complete the 25-hour holiday fast.
Under the just-passed law, Israel’s daylight saving time will now average 193 days each year, as opposed to 182 under the former law. In many years, including next year, Yom Kippur will now fall during daylight savings time. Today’s bill was a compromise between some Kadima and Meretz party Knesset members who wanted many more days added to daylight savings time and the Likud-led coalition, which supported a more moderate extension.
More than 390,000 Israelis signed a petition earlier this year calling for daylight savings time to be extended past October 1.
“The decision [to change the clocks back before Yom Kippur] means millions of working Israelis return home from work in the dark and get up in the morning after the sun has warmed up our already-hot country.
“Standard time cuts short the quality time that parents have with their children, adds to the risk of traffic accidents because of the additional travel in the dark, puts the local time at variance with the time in Europe and the rest of the world, and costs the Israeli economy hundreds of millions of shekels,” the petition read.
Politicians from the haredi Shas party pressured the government to block today’s vote, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refused, keeping his pledge to to bring the issue to a vote before the upcoming elections. To keep that promise, Netanyahu had to call the Knesset, which was on recess, into a special session.
Interior Minister Eli Yishai, a member of the Shas party, claimed that the 2005 bill ending daylight savings time before Yom Kippur was passed while Shas was in the opposition.
“It was based on social and financial considerations and enjoyed a broad political consensus,” Yishai claimed, even though that consensus reportedly had much more to do with appeasing haredi politicians than benefiting the majority of israel’s citizens.
The bill passed today was based on the recommendations of the Kehat committee, which Yishai himself formed in February of last year to evaluate the arguments in support of and in opposition to extending daylight savings time.
At the time of today’s vote, only 27 MKs were reportedly in attendance. Nineteen voted in favor of the moderate extension and seven opposed it. One Member of Knesset abstained.