Israel’s Ministerial Committee on Legislation approved a proposed bill that would force grocery stores and other businesses to close on Shabbat (the Jewish Sabbath) which runs each week from sundown on Friday through Saturday a few minutes after sundown.
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Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
Israel’s Ministerial Committee on Legislation approved a proposed bill sponsored by Member of Knesset Miki Zohar of the ruling Likud Party that would force grocery stores and other businesses to close on Shabbat (the Jewish Sabbath) which runs each week from sundown on Friday through Saturday about one hour after sundown.
Ha’aretz reported Zohar’s bill is meant to replace city bylaws that prohibit certain types of stores and commercial enterprises from opening on Shabbat. The new bill dramatically increases fines for violators. It covers grocery stores and other retail outlets including shopping malls but not restaurants, gas stations or hotels. Most importantly, it would shift the responsibility for enforcing the Shabbat closures to Israel’s economy minister and only the economy minister – not local elected officials or city staff – would be allowed to issue exemptions to the new law.
Heads of the coalition parties decided that after the bill is given its first Knesset reading, the legislative process will be stopped to allow a special committee made up of directors-general from various government ministries to debate a proposal to not only ban Shabbat openings but to gradually phase in Sunday as a day of rest, meaning that for the first time, Israel could have a 2-day weekend. Part of the economy minister’s responsibility would be to appoint inspectors who would issue fines to scofflaws.