Mosque in Yafo, file
Mosque in Yafo, file Esther Rubyan/Flash90

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Sunday he backed a bill limiting the volume of calls to prayer from mosques, a proposal government watchdogs have called a threat to religious

Netanyahu, who spoke as a ministerial committee was to discuss the draft bill later in the day, said he would support such a move that some have labelled unnecessarily divisive.

Israeli media reported that the bill would stop the use of public address systems for calls to prayer.

"I cannot count the times -- they are simply too numerous -- that citizens have turned to me from all parts of Israeli society, from all religions, with complaints about the noise and suffering caused them by the excessive noise coming to them from the public address systems of houses of prayer," Netanyahu said at the start of a cabinet meeting.

While the draft bill applies to all houses of worship, it is seen as specifically targeting mosques.

In Arab villages across the north and southern portions of the country, and in mixed cities like Jerusalem, Haifa, and Jaffa, traditional Muslim calls to prayer by muezzins through PA systems can be heard five times daily, including at night (the Isha’a prayer) and before dawn (Fajr).

AFP contributed to this report.

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