Knesset passes controversial ‘minimarket’ bill that may prevent stores from opening on the Sabbath

The Knesset passed the “minimarket” bill early on Tuesday morning, with only one vote more than the opposition. The law may enforce the shuttering of stores on Saturday throughout Israel and is part of a compromise deal between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the ultra-Orthodox parties in the coalition.
View of the Israeli Knesset during the vote Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

The Israeli Knesset approved the controversial “minimarket” bill in the early morning hours of Tuesday, with a majority of 58 members in favor of the bill, only one vote more than the 57 that opposed. The bill will prevent municipalities from opening stores on Saturday, the Jewish day of rest, without direct approval from the Interior Minister.

The bill is part of a compromise deal between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the ultra-Orthodox parties in the coalition and has been stirring controversy in Israeli politics. The discussion lasted for several hours after the opposition succeeded in passing a restriction allowing the selling of kitchen utensils on Saturdays.

As previously reported by JOL, Interior Minister Arie Deri of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party has been pushing the proposal despite Yisrael Beytenu’s rejection. Head of the Israeli Labor party Avi Gabay said that the “mini-market” law harms the lifestyle of millions of citizens in the country.  “[The bill] harms the right of every community to choose the nature of its Sabbath.”



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