The final Knesset vote on the "supermarkets bill" has been postponed until next week, after the coalition failed to muster a majority to support it. The bill gives the minister of the interior, currently Aryeh Deri of religious party Shas, powers to override local authority bylaws permitting businesses to open on Saturdays, the Jewish sabbath. The opposition and coalition party Yisrael Beitenu announced that they would not pair off with MK Yehuda Glick, who is in mourning for his late wife. MK David Azoulay (Shas) was also missing from the coalition ranks, because of ill health.
The bill states that a municipal bylaw on the subject of opening businesses on the sabbath cannot become effective before the Minister of the Interior signs it. The businesses affected by the bill include supermarkets, kiosks, convenience stores, and filling stations; cafes, cinemas, cultural institutions, and essential businesses are not affected.
Opposition whip MK Yoel Hasson (Zionist Union) said: "The supermarkets law is not urgent; we have lived fine for 70 years without it. There are no pairings, and the coalition can defer the vote. It's up to it." Sources in the Yisrael Beitenu party, which is in the coalition but opposes the bill, said of pairing with Glick, "It won't happen." Glick himself wrote: "I beseech you that my dear wife's funeral should not become a cause of dispute."
A senior coalition source said that voting on the law paving the way for MK Yakov Litzman (United Torah Judaism) to return to the Ministry of Health would also be postponed. "Liztman won't become a deputy minister without the supermarkets law," he said.
MK Oded Forer (Yisrael Beitenu) said after the vote was postponed, "I'm happy that the coalition has postponed the vote by a week, and I hope that during this week everyone will regain their sanity and drop this bill from the agenda altogether. There is no reason to proceed with a bill that damages the fabric of life and relations between religious and secular people."
Meanwhile, the Knesset gave second and third readings to MK David Amsalem's bill on public financing for candidates in party primary elections. The bill, which required 61 of the 120 Knesset members to vote for it in order to pass, ultimately received 62 votes in favor and 52 against. Under the new law, candidates in party primary elections for the post of member of Knesset will receive funding from the state. Incumbent members of Knesset or government ministers will be entitled to funding, and will not be allowed to seek donations or take out loans for this purpose.
Amsalem said, "A member of Knesset should not receive a donation from anyone. As far as I'm concerned, that's bribery."
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on January 2, 2018
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