Health Minister Yaakov Litzman (United Torah Judaism) on Tuesday evening pulled back his appeal against the “Muezzin Law” which would prohibit houses of worship from using loudspeakers, specifically mosques, which disturb the sleep of nearby residents when the Muezzin calls worshipers to prayer in the early hours of the morning.
Litzman appealed the law on the grounds that that if the law is approved in its current form, it could prevent the use of sirens that are sounded in some cities in Israel on Friday afternoons to announce the start of the Sabbath.
The Health Minister agreed to pull his appeal after he reached an understanding with coalition chairman MK David Bitan (Likud), according to which the bill will include a clause stipulating that the law would apply only between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m., and would thus not affect the Shabbat sirens.
As a result of Litzman lifting his objection, the law may be voted upon in a preliminary reading at the Knesset on Wednesday. However, Army Radio reported late on Tuesday night, the vote may be postponed a few days due to the fact that Knesset Speaker MK Yuli Edelstein requested that he be the one to oversee the vote due to the controversial nature of the law.
The draft bill has sparked anger among Arab MKs, who see it as specifically targeting mosques since synagogues do not use loudspeakers.
MK Ahmed Tibi (Joint List) last week calledon the Arab public to disobey the law should it pass.
"I call on all my people to disobey this law until it reaches the third reading and is approved. We are also disturbed by the Friday and Saturday sirens (announcing the Shabbat), we too cannot travel on Yom Kippur and festivals because of you, but we don't speak about it, we don't protest," he said.
The Palestinian Authority leadership condemned the proposed law this past weekend, saying that passing it would constitute a declaration of war by Israel.
Jordan has also expressed its disapproval of the legislation, saying that Israel has no authority to instruct mosques in Jerusalem what to do, particularly the Al-Aqsa Mosque which is under the authority of the Jordanian Waqf.