PM’s ‘Sundays off’ c’tee still not formed

Source in PMO blames delay of official appointment of committee to examine 5-day work week on housing protests and recent economic developments.

August 30, 2011 01:34
2 minute read.
Silvan Shalom

silvan shalom 311. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has yet to officially appoint a committee that he said would examine whether Israel should adopt a five-day work week, a source in the Prime Minister’s Office revealed to The Jerusalem Post Monday.

Netanyahu announced the formation of the committee with great fanfare on July 4.

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He said at the time that the committee, headed by National Economic Council head Prof. Eugene Kandel, would release its findings when the Knesset returns from its summer recess October 30.

Officials in the Prime Minister’s Office said Kandel had begun his work and would complete it on time. But when asked why people who had been told they were on the committee had not been invited to a single meeting, a source in Netanyahu’s office said the committee had not been officially appointed, and its makeup would be announced “today or tomorrow.” The source blamed the delay on the housing protests, the appointment of Prof. Manuel Trajtenberg’s committee on the housing crisis, and other recent economic developments.

Vice Premier Silvan Shalom, who is leading the effort to initiate a five-day work week, with Sundays off, declined to criticize Netanyahu for the delay.

But Shalom warned that if Kandel’s committee did not finish its work by the time the Knesset recess ended, he would consider advancing the idea on his own in the parliament, where coalition chairman Ze’ev Elkin believes he can obtain a majority for the bill he has proposed on the matter.

“I will continue to advance my initiative for a long weekend with Saturdays and Sundays off for the good of Israel’s society and economy,” Shalom said.

Shalom is expected to be on the committee along with other ministers and professionals from various ministries connected to the matter.

When it is appointed, the committee is expected to consider Shalom’s proposal as well as one by Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz to eliminate the current half-day of work on Fridays, and Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar’s preference to maintain the status quo.

“There are good arguments on all sides of the issue,” Netanyahu told the Likud faction when he announced the formation of the committee, declaring neutrality until it issues its findings.

Likud officials speculated at the time that Netanyahu might be unlikely to support giving Sundays off, because the idea is being promoted by Shalom, who is his Likud rival.

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