After the enactment of the Supermarket Law, the haredi parties announced their intention to preserve the status quo regarding Shabbat as it has been until today. However, at a closed United Hatzalah event, Finance Committee Chairman MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) said that the status quo regarding Shabbat is likely to change for the better.
"The most important thing in my opinion is not these two laws," Gafni said in a speech at an event held last Saturday night and a recording of which was posted on the haredi website Kikar Hashabat.
"There was an agreement with the Prime Minister, and that is what is supposed to be now. There was a big problem with enforcement of the laws, and the conclusion was, since the Interior Ministry has hundreds, perhaps even more, inspectors who handle infiltrators, and they are inspectors who are not Jewish, the issue of enforcement within two months can come together. This route is positive and I hope that these things will happen," Gafni said.
He added that "if this entire system we talked about is completed, we not only maintain the status quo, we also advance the issue of Sabbath observance."
In his speech he revealed how he managed to prevent yeshiva budget cuts. "They came from the Finance Ministry and said they cut half the haredi budget. The Prime Minister called me at 10 minutes to 2:00 a.m., before he approved the budget on Friday morning. He said to me: 'Rabbi Gafni, I ask you to help us pass the budget.'
"I told him, 'How can I support the budget when we cut our schools, our seminars, and our activities?' Bibi said, 'What do you suggest?' I said, 'Return what was cut down to the last shekel, otherwise it will not pass.' The haredi budget was reinstated, and then we passed the budget," Gafni was quoted as saying.
MK Elazar Stern (Yesh Atid) said in response, "I had no expectations that MK Gafni would preserve the Jewish-Zionist character of the State of Israel. Gafni belongs to a group of haredi politicians who treat the country as a 'Shabbos goy'.
"But I did have expectations from the Likud members headed by Binyamin Netanyahu, and especially from the Jewish Home party, which allows a small group time after time to insurrect on issues that are most important to us in Israeli society."
Stern added, "I look forward to the response of Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who claims to lead religious Zionism, that the status quo is changing in favor of the haredim. I wonder what he thinks about MK Moshe Gafni's Torah values, and whether this time he will bury his head in the sand in hopes that we won't realize that he and his colleagues are hurting the very soul of religious Zionism?"