The Knesset approved on Monday evening the first reading of a bill which determines that Daylight Saving Time, known as Summer Time in Israel, will be extended until the end of October, as is customary in Europe.
48 MKs voted in favor of the bill, which was initiated by Interior Minister Gideon Saar (Likud), and only five opposed it. The bill has been transferred to the Knesset’s Interior Committee where it will be prepared for its second and third readings.
According to the proposed law, Summer Time will begin on the last Friday in March, and will last until the last Sunday in October.
On Sunday, the cabinet approved Saar’s proposal, paving the way for it to be voted on in a first reading. Saar recently adopted the recommendations of a committee of experts he had appointed and tasked with examining the issue of Daylight Savings Time in Israel.
Daylight Saving time is controversial in Israel, due in large part to the early switch back to Standard Time. For years Israel has switched back to Standard Time during the Jewish fall holidays, which sometimes occur in early September. This is meant to make life easier for observant Sephardim who wake up early for the Slichot prayers during the holidays and make the Yom Kippur fast end earlier for everyone. Advocates of the change to Daylight Saving want it to continue till after the holidays.
On the other hand, those same advocates have succeeded in effecting the change to Daylight Saving Time early in the spring, causing the Passover seder to begin after 8 p.m. because of the need to say the Evening Prayers beforehand. This prevents children from remaining awake for the seder.
There have been calls on the government to extend Daylight Saving Time until October regardless of the timing of Jewish holidays. However, there is another group, including scientists, who say that the entire issue is superfluous in Israel. They claim that the entire switch is unnecessary and that savings are minimal because Israel is closer to the Equator than Europe.
MK Zevulun Kalfa (Bayit Yehudi) expressed upset on Sunday over the Cabinet’s decision to approve the measure to extend Summer Time, noting that the change will have a negative impact on manual laborers and on religious Jews.
“At the end of October it will be possible to say the Shacharit [morning] prayers only from 6:45 a.m., sunrise, and extending the Summer Clock will force them to choose: prayer or work,” said Kalfa, who recommended that Summer Time be extended only until October 10, the last point at which sunrise is no later than 6:30 a.m.
Following Monday’s approval of the first reading, Minister Saar said that "the new summer time embodies the interests of the citizens of Israel. It’s too bad that we align ourselves with Europe only after other countries in the region have done so, but it’s certainly about time that we do it.”
Saar added, "With weather like in Israel has in October, there is no reason for it to get dark so early. There is a very big difference between going home from work while it is still daylight and going home when it is dark. I intend to complete this legislation procedure next month so that the new clock is implemented in Israel already this year.”