Knesset Knesset Spokesperson

The Knesset approved early Tuesday morning the first reading of the “Supermarket Law”, which will grant the Interior Minister the powers to disqualify municipal bylaws promoted by the local authorities, effectively shutting down supermarkets that had been operating on the Sabbath with permission from the local authority.

The motion was approved by a majority of 59 MKs who voted in favor and 54 who voted against. One MK abstained.

The vote was preceded by an intensive campaign of mobilizing votes both in the opposition and in the coalition, following Yisrael Beytenu’s announcement that they would vote against the law.

Interior Minister Aryeh Deri (Shas), who initiated the legislation, threatened to resign from the government if the law was not approved in its first reading.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu shortened his trip to Europe and exerted pressure on MKs from the Likud who threatened not to support the bill, namely Sharren Haskel and Yehuda Glick. Glick finally agreed to support the bill in exchange for the coalition's agreement to promote a bill banning the publication of cigarettes and tobacco products, except in the printed press.

The Arab Joint List party announced on Saturday that it would vote against the law, citing 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.