Government-sponsored Sabbath Bill Infuriates Religious Party

A stiff fight inside Israel’s coalition Government, over a government-sponsored bill that would amend the law regarding Sabbath observance, developed openly today in the Knesset, Israel’s Parliament. The National Religious Party, a member of the coalition, was so outraged by the draft that it announced in the Knesset it would not even consent to debate the measure.

Under the new formula, as devised by the Government, the draft would state in general terms that the Sabbath law is applicable to all business premises “except those which, according to present practice, are open and operating on rest days, as decided by a Ministerial Committee.” Dr. Yosef Burg, Minister of Social Welfare, denounced the new formula as “a law on profanation of the Sabbath.” He charged Mapai with distorting a coalition agreement on the subject.

The current Knesset is due to end Thursday. It is now doubtful whether the draft on Sabbath observance will be brought up again before the Knesset adjourns for the summer. The Government secretary in the Knesset said that the new formula represents a compromise between the views of Achdut Avodah and NRP ministers.

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