Zeev Elkin 248.88.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The country will eventually have a five-day work week, even if current efforts
to enact a longer weekend with Sundays off are unsuccessful, coalition chairman
Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) said confidently in an interview on Tuesday with The
Elkin and MK Yariv Levin (Likud) submitted a bill that
would lengthen the work day substantially on Fridays and slightly during the
rest of the week in order to make Sunday a day off like it is in most of the
Elkin said it could take time to pass the bill but
demographic and economic realities made the change unavoidable.
population changes, Shabbat-observant people will eventually be a majority among
the Jews in the country,” Elkin said.
“The fact that they are not
participating as consumers in the shopping, cultural and sports events that take
place on weekends could harm these economic sectors in the future if Sundays do
not become a day off. I think it’s inevitable that this will pass, if not now
then in a few years.”
Elkin gave credit to Jewish Agency chairman Natan
Sharansky and Likud MK Yuli Edelstein for initiating the idea when they were in
the now defunct Israel Ba’aliya Party and to Vice Premier Silvan Shalom for
promoting the idea successfully in the current government. Shalom has drawn
support for the idea from business leaders and religious parties that opposed
the move in the past, but Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz and Prime Minister
Binyamin Netanyahu have not yet revealed their point of view on the
“We are much more of a global country than we were in the past,”
Elkin said. “On Sundays, a lot of businesses work, but they can’t really get
anything done because the rest of the world is closed, and on Fridays when they
should work they don’t really work, so they lose two days.
would increase productivity,” Elkin said supporting such a bill was natural for
him as an immigrant from Ukraine when it was part of the Soviet Union. He said
immigrants from former Soviet countries as well as English-speaking and European
immigrants were big backers of the legislation.
He cautioned that the
bill could not be expedited because he needed to work on attracting as much
support for it as possible in the Knesset while Shalom continues lobbying
ministers and business leaders. Elkin did not put it on the list of key bills he
believes he can pass by the August 7 end of the Knesset’s summer session that
includes reforms aimed at ending the housing crisis and legislation intended to
prevent boycotts against Judea and Samaria.
“Enacting Sundays off would
be a dramatic change, so it has to be advanced by a consensus, and that takes
time,” Elkin said.