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Israel passes controversial law to stop trading on Shabbat Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Israel passes controversial law to stop trading on Shabbat

The bill has angered Israel's secular majority by attempting to limit trading on Saturday. [Getty]

Date of publication: 9 January, 2018

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Most Jewish-run shops and supermarkets traditionally remain closed during Shabbat but the number varies according to the religious nature of the neighbourhood.

Israel's parliament passed new legislation on Tuesday affording the interior minister the right to govern trading on the Jewish Shabbat in a move which has angered secular lawmakers.

The bill, passed by a 58-to-57 vote, grants the interior minister the right to cancel municipal by-laws that local councils could enact to allow shops and restaurants to open in their areas during Shabbat, which runs from sunset on Friday to sunset on Saturday.

The bill was promoted by Interior Minister Aryeh Deri of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party and would affect new businesses wishing to open during the Sabbath. Current trading would not be affected.

Most Jewish-run shops and supermarkets traditionally remain closed during Shabbat but the number varies according to the religious nature of the neighbourhood.

Shas and another ultra-Orthodox party threatened to leave Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's far-right coalition government if the legislation failed.

The bill has angered Israel's secular Jewish majority by attempting to limit trading on Saturday.

Netanyahu told his Likud party on Monday that any vote against the legislation would be a vote of no-confidence in the government.

At least one Likud member refused to vote for the bill and was threatened with expulsion.

The bill is the latest in a series of motions introduced by right-wing coalition members, who feel able to pressure Netanyahu's fragile government to enact hard-line legislation.

Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Liberman, leader of the ultra-nationalist and secularist Yisrael Beitenu faction, said his party would not back the motion and he called the bill "absurd".

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