'Shabbat cannot become just another shopping day'

Naftali Bennett and Avigdor Liberman clash at coalition meeting over the Supermarket Law. 'Herzl didn't keep Shabbat.'

Tzvi Lev,

Naftali Bennett
Naftali Bennett
Arutz Sheva

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beytenu) and Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home) exchanged heated words at the weekly coalition meeting on Sunday over the proposed Supermarket Law, which would restrict the ability of municipalities to approve the opening of businesses on Shabbat via municipal bylaws.

Liberman has sworn to oppose the bill, which he considers religious coercion, and noted that the founders of Israel were not religiously observant Jews. "Herzl didn't keep Shabbat," said Liberman. Bennett shot back that "without 3,000 years of keeping Shabbat, Herzl would not have existed."

The Supermarket Law, which is sponsored by Shas head Aryeh Deri, was approved by the government despite the vocal opposition of Avigdor Liberman's Yisrael Beytenu party. Housing Minister Yoav Galant (Kulanu) refrained from voting on the proposal.

"We want to maintain the status quo throughout the country and prevent the Sabbath from becoming a national shopping day," said Deri.

"We do not want to close the supermarkets in Tel Aviv, but we just want to maintain the status quo, and following the High Court of Justice ruling on supermarkets in Tel Aviv, supermarkets will not be opened all over the country on Saturday," he said.

Yisrael Beytenu faction leader MK Robert Ilatov attacked the Supermarket Law shortly afterward, deeming it "a crude violation of the status quo as well as an attack on the irreligious population which is the majority in Israel".

Ilatov also vowed to do everything possible to oppose the bill should it reach the Knesset. "The Yisrael Beytenu faction will oppose the law if it reaches the Knesset plenum and Minister Sofa Landver will leave the plenum during the vote," Ilatov said.