Motti Yogev
Motti YogevEliran Aharon

MK Motti Yogev (Jewish Home), one of the authors of the so-called “muezzin law”, is unfazed by the fact that a preliminary vote on the bill has been postponed for now.

The vote had been scheduled for Wednesday after the Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved the bill, but was placed on hold after Health Minister Yaakov Litzman (United Torah Judaism) filed an appeal against it.

The law would prohibit mosques and other places of worship from using loudspeakers which disturb citizens’ sleep, but Litzman’s appeal was filed on the grounds that that if the law is approved in its current form, it could prevent the use of sirens in some cities in Israel to announce the start of the Sabbath.

Speaking to Arutz Sheva on Wednesday, MK Yogev expressed confidence that the law will be brought for a vote to the Knesset.

"I hope that the opposition of the Health Minister to the law stems from a misunderstanding. I spoke with his assistant this morning and made clear that there is no intention to harm neither observant Muslims nor observant Jews. The intention is to allow the hundreds of thousands of people who wake early up every morning because of the sound of muezzins to sleep," he explained.

"This noise must stop," continued Yogev. "It does not exist anywhere in the world. Even in some Arab countries – Tunisia, Saudi Arabia and Turkey – they have canceled or reduced the decibel level of the muezzin. Even Cairo is going to do it. In [the Israeli cities of] Umm al-Fahm and Jaffa they’ve lowered the decibel level, and that’s what we’re trying to do."

Yogev said that there is a need for the law because there is a similar law that is not being enforced. Furthermore, he added, many people from the Arab sector have thanked him for promoting the law.

"We have been getting many calls from Arabs from Beit Hanina, Akko and Be’er Sheva who say to us 'thank you very much and do not stop'. There is nowhere in Islam where it says that disturbing one’s neighbors in the early hours of the morning is allowed," he told Arutz Sheva.

"We will make all the efforts to approve the law and we will find the required majority. We are not coming to start a fight, but rather to regulate the sleep of many citizens of Israel. The law applies only to hours of rest and exceptional events will be permitted,” stressed Yogev, who pointed out that he has no objection to muezzin calls during the day.

"There are muezzin calls at midday and at dusk and those are not interfering with the sleep of the citizens. Same thing with the Shabbat siren which happens during the day (before sunset on Friday –ed.). I suggest that the haredi Knesset members and ministers not be dragged by the (Arab) Joint List to try and control the public discourse and norms in Israel," he concluded.

The draft bill has sparked anger among Arab MKs, who see it as specifically targeting mosques since synagogues do not have public address systems.

In fact, MK Ahmed Tibi (Joint List) on Tuesday called on the Arab public to disobey the law should it pass.

"I call on all my people to disobey this law until it reaches the third reading and is approved. We are also disturbed by the Friday and Saturday sirens (announcing the Shabbat), we too cannot travel on Yom Kippur and festivals because of you, but we don't speak about it, we don't protest," he said.

The bill has also been criticized by the Palestinian Authority, whose leaders threatened Israel with “consequences” if it passes, including action in the UN.