Soccer in the Supreme Court: Judges admonish State

Supreme Court justices tell State representatives government given enough time for decision, matter now out of its province.

Mordechai Sones,

Soccer
Soccer
Flash 90

Today (Monday) another hearing was held on the soccer player's petition represented by the Movement for a Jewish and Democratic State against the government and the Attorney General for non-enforcement of the Hours of Work and Rest Law and for illegal soccer matches on the Sabbath.

The three Supreme Court justices repeatedly told the State representative that government conduct was improper and that the government intended to delay the decision indefinitely.

The Supreme Court has given the government three months to find a solution to the issue of soccer on the Sabbath or to cancel Shabbat games, and since then the government has asked the Supreme Court for an extension. In practice, however, the judges claim that the government did nothing.

Judge Neal Hendel claimed government conduct was "insulting" as he put it: "Why do you wait until the last minute? Two years have passed and you have not done anything, then ahead of the September debate there are two meetings in August. Why did you wait until the last minute and then ask for an extension? We've given you time, too much of it."

"Two years? How many years do you need, four years? If we give you four years, you'll want six years ... Two years without the committee ever meeting?" Judge Hendel wondered.

The State asked the Supreme Court for another two months in order to organize games, but the State representative was unable to explain the benefit gained by another two months, and Judge Hendel told him: "You want two months, what do you expect to happen next?", to which the State representative candidly answered, "I do not know. The committee (the Ministerial Committee on Shabbat) will convene in November, and I have no authority to announce what their decision will be."

The Supreme Court has yet to publish its decision, but the judges have already hinted that they will have to decide instead of the government. "You are forcing the court to take a stand. You claim that we do not understand, we understand you very well. We should have finished this sooner. You ask why the court decides - because you do not decide. You need to learn a lesson. The court will eventually decide," Justice Hendel said. Judge Noam Solberg added, "We are at the end of the line; we were not convinced that any action was taken here."

The Supreme Court and the National League have expressed dissatisfaction with the Israeli government's hesitation and recently signed more than 320 senior league players on a petition demanding the Prime Minister not issue a permit to hold games on Shabbat.

The Movement for a Jewish and Democratic State representing the players said in response, "The High Court justices strongly attacked the state's position. The government representative squirmed in response to judges' questions about procrastination. For two years now, the government has procrastinated using various pretexts, and in the meantime the Soccer Association, with government approval, is forcing hundreds of players to play on Shabbat, contrary to their faith and against the law. We hope that the Supreme Court justices will put an end to this farce and protect the player's rights."

The court has invoked the Basic Law protecting equal opportunity and civil rights in the case of opening kashrut supervision to competition and preventing the deportation of illegal aliens. It remains to be seen if it will do so to protect an employee's ability to observe Shabbat in the Jewish state.



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