The Knesset approved on Monday evening the second and third readings of the bill to extend Daylight Saving Time (known as Summer Time in Israel) until the end of October, as is customary in Europe.
73 MKs voted in favor of the bill, which was a merger of two separate bills submitted by Interior Minister Gideon Saar (Likud) and MK Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz). 15 MKs opposed the move. The first reading of the bill was approved two weeks ago.
According to the law, Summer Time will now begin on the last Friday in March, and will continue until the last Sunday in October. The law will take effect as of this year.
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.
Minister Saar expressed great satisfaction over the completion of the legislative process which he had led and said on Monday evening, "Today the people of Israel can smile because more daylight means more happiness.”
Saar added, "Today the Knesset voted by a large majority in favor of the interest of the citizens of Israel. The new Summer Time is something for which Israeli citizens have been waiting for many years.
"Israel today aligns itself with the European countries. It was done late, but it was certainly time to do it.
"The new Summer Time has a direct impact on the daily lives of every person in Israel and has many benefits," said Saar and added, "There is no reason for darkness to fall so early in October, especially considering the excellent weather conditions in October in Israel.”