Yair Lapid
Yair LapidFlash 90

Finance Minister Yair Lapid's (Yesh Atid) decision to hold a press conference in his Tel Aviv home on Saturday in open violation of the Sabbath has religious and non-religious MKs alike furious, with many waiting to see if the move may spell the end of the rocky coalition government.

Lapid called up journalists to his home in order to announce that a solution to the 2015 budget crisis will be soon in coming; Lapid has been at odds with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu over the budget, with Netanyahu demanding a defense spending hike and Lapid opposing.

It should be noted that in December 1976, then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin broke apart his coalition with the Mafdal religious Zionist party over tensions, after an IAF ceremony at an airbase welcoming the arrival of the first three F-15 fighter jets to Israel desecrated the Sabbath.

Jewish Home, the offshoot of Mafdal, has yet to issue a response to Lapid's Shabbat gaff, which comes mere days before the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashana) on Wednesday. 

However, Jewish Home MK Shuli Muallem hinted that Lapid's move may indeed cost the coalition, saying on Saturday "Yair Lapid has the right to do as he pleases in his private home - to cut down trees or pump water (forbidden acts on Sabbath - ed.) - but Yair Lapid works on Shabbat and desecrates the day of rest with the goal of gathering a few lost mandates."

"Jewish Home as a religious party in the coalition can not sit in the government with someone who gathers mandates and desecrates the Sabbath as if it's a normal work day," said Muallem, without elaborating on what exactly her statement will mean in terms of practice.

Defending Shabbat from the far-left

Surprisingly far-left Meretz party chairperson Zehava Galon joined the criticism of Lapid on Saturday.

"While you were enjoying your day of rest, Finance Minister Yair Lapid decided to drag all the financial journalists from their homes in the middle of Shabbat, inviting them to park at the entrance to his house in Tel Aviv so that they could hear him read off a thoughtless announcement," charged Galon.

"The reading took exactly a minute-and-a-half, but it certainly was enough to destroy the Shabbat of the camermen and journalists forced to arrive to hear the utterances of his excellency the finance minister," added Galon tongue-in-cheek, noting the "unfairness" towards Sabbath observant journalists wasn't the only problem about his "futile announcements" on Shabbat.

Adding on to Galon's criticism, hareidi Shas party chairman MK Aryeh Deri said "I find myself in a rare occasion agreeing with my colleague Meretz chairperson MK Zehava Galon, on everything concerning Yair Lapid's gathering the journalists in the middle of Shabbat."

"It cannot be that a minister in the government of Israel should publicly trample these values," stated Deri.

Deputy Religious Affairs Minister Eli Ben-Dahan (Jewish Home) also criticized Lapid on Saturday night, saying he "displayed a disconnection from the basic values of the state of Israel" by desecrating the Shabbat and forcing the journalists to do so as well.

"The desire to get some kind of credit doesn't allow the finance minister to harm the basic values of the Jewish state," added Ben-Dahan. "I would remind the finance minister that the government of Israel that he is a member of accepted upon itself the Shabbat as a national day of rest."

Ben-Dahan added that the obligation to respect the Shabbat as a public day of rest was taken on by Lapid when he assumed his role as minister.