Arabs won't vote for haredi Shabbat bill

Head of Arab Joint List party withdraws support for bill that would close food stores on Shabbat.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Ayman Oden
Ayman Oden
Flash 90

The chairman of the Arab Joint List party, Ayman Odeh, announced on Saturday that his party will not vote for the haredi-sponsored Supermarket Law, which would stop food stores from operating on Shabbat.

"The Joint List will vote this week against the Supermarket Law, which will put the government in trouble after Yisrael Beytenu also announced that it will object," Odeh said in his speech in the central Israeli city of Ness Ziona.

Later, Joint List MK Ahmad Tibi explained that the party decided oppose the law due to haredi support for the Muezzin Law, which would lower the volume permitted for loudspeakers used to call Muslims to prayer. The government had attempted to recruit the support of the Arab MKs in order to avoid a coalition crisis with Yisrael Beytenu, who has vowed to oppose the Supermarket law,

The government approved the Supermarket Law last week, and the law will now move to the Knesset for legislation, where it is expected to pass its first reading on Monday. The law would restrict local municipalities from passing laws enabling businesses to open on Shabbat.

The bill was approved by the government despite the opposition of the ministers of Yisrael Beytenu, who consider it religious coercion. Housing Minister Yoav Galant (Kulanu) refrained from voting.

Yisrael Beytenu faction leader MK Robert Ilatov attacked the Supermarket Law, deeming it "a crude violation of the status quo as well as an attack on the non-religious 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 Sofia Landver will leave the plenum during the vote," Ilatov said. The law actually is meant to preserve the status quo regarding Shabbat in the public sphere, which has been eroding since the kibbutzim, whose land is considered their own purview, began opening shopping centers on Shabbat.