MK Miki Zohar
MK Miki Zohar Photo: Screenshot

MK Roy Folkman (Kulanu) warned that his party will oppose the so-called "Shabbat Law," submitted by MK Mickey Zohar (Likud), should it come to the plenum for a vote, as it is planned on Wednesday. Zohar responded that he may consider removing the discussion of the bill from the daily schedule and instead pose it for discussion to the Coalition leadership.

“It is likely that we will not have a discussion on the issue as the head of the coalition is not currently in the country and the coalition was not able to meet this week. I am considering the matter deeply," said MK Zohar.

He added that, during previous discussions, people misunderstood the bill's intention. “Anyone who didn’t know how to deal with the bill claimed that it was religious coercion. But I submitted the bill out of a sense of social responsibility. I’ve heard the complaints and I’ve internalized them and thought them through. I know that I live in a complex society. I was attacked because people harbor anger towards Judaism. I am not moved by claims that are not objective but rather come from a hatred of the Jewish idea.”

Kobi Bremmer, one of the leaders in the "kiosk battle" said that his father was attacked due to his campaign to protect Shabbat.

“My father was physically attacked. A man who is 84 years old, because of my campaign to close down businesses for Shabbat. I represent small business owners. People scream ‘religious coercion’ and ‘Iran’ and the think people will buy into those lies. People who go shopping on Shabbat don’t go shopping again on Sunday. But I can’t work on Shabbat. The fines will kill my business, the law needs to protect me, the little guy in an equal fashion.”

Zohar’s bill is aimed at protecting small businesses like Bremmer’s, by forcing even big stores to close down on Shabbat. According to the current law, all businesses can suffer the penalty of being fined for opening on Shabbat. While small businesses like Bremmer’s need to close because the fines are prohibitive for them, larger stores, and supermarket chains stay open and incorporate the fine, which for them is minimal, into the cost of doing business, if they receive the fine at all.

This then creates a dynamic which favors large businesses and chain stores over the local markets and mom-and-pop stores, the bill's proponents argue.