Cabinet Minister: Are we Iran?

Heated debate in Cabinet allowing soccer teams to continue to play on the Sabbath. Religious players may have to violate Sabbath or sit out.

Arutz Shev Staff ,

Soccer (illustration)
Soccer (illustration)
Flash 90

The Cabinet was scheduled today to approve the transfer of powers over permits to work on the Sabbath from the Prime Minister to Minister Tzahi Hanegbi (Likud). However, it was decided to delay the vote on the transfer of powers by one week.

The Cabinet seeks to transfer the powers in order to grant a permit for Israeli professional soccer teams to play on the Sabbath while at the same time complying with the ruling of the Supreme Court. The court ruled, in response to a petition by the Movement for a Jewish State, that the government must enforce the law prohibiting employers from forcing employees to work on the Sabbath. This ruling affects the owners of Israeli soccer teams, most of which play on the Sabbath, causing religious players to desecrate the holy day or sit out the games.

According to the ruling, special committee comprised of the Prime Minister, the Religious Affairs Minister, and the Social and Labor Affairs Minister is now required in order to grant a permit permitting soccer games to be played on the Sabbath.

Interior Minister Aryeh Deri (Shas) and Health Minister Yaakov Litzman (United Torah Judaism) expressed opposition to the transfer of powers to Minister Hanegbi and asked that a discussion be held on the subject. It was determined that the matter would be dealt with in the next Cabinet meeting.

One minister asked why the games on Saturday could not be discontinued and moved to weekdays so that no religious players would be forced to violate the Sabbath by playing or to sit on the sidelines while their teams play without them. Another minister responded: "What is this, Iran?"

Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel (Jewish Home) told Arutz Sheva that "the Sabbath is important not only for religious people and the haredim, but for all citizens of Israel, including the large traditional population. Holding games on the Sabbath is harmful to many Israeli citizens, and finding other days [to play] is correct and just, both for the observant players and for the citizens who would like to go to the stadium but cannot because of the Sabbath."