Vice Premier Silvan Shalom_311.
(photo credit: Reuters/Mike Cassese)
Knesset members from across the political spectrum vowed on Monday to pass a
bill that would make Sunday a day off by the end of the Knesset’s winter session
on March 21.
Vice Premier Silvan Shalom, who initiated the legislation,
met on Monday with a new Knesset caucus that will lobby for a longer
:Shalom plans meetings to draft long-weekend coalition Will Sunday become part of the Israeli weekend?
The MKs in the caucus said they would proceed with their
legislation despite the work of a committee appointed by Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu to examine options for shortening the work week.
headed by National Economic Council head Prof. Eugene Kandel, has sent 200
business leaders and socioeconomic organizations a questionnaire asking whether
they preferred making Sunday part of a longer weekend or other
The alternatives include giving workers an additional week of
vacation time to use whenever they wanted, adopting a half-day of work on
Tuesday or Thursday, making dates of national significance like Jerusalem Day
and Remembrance Day days off, and making Hanukka or Hol Hamoed Succot days off
for workers as they already are for schoolchildren.
Shalom said it was
important to synchronize Israel’s economy with world markets, boost trade and
tourism, strengthen the periphery and lengthen the school day, which he said
could help the career advancement of mothers.
He said the alternatives to
Sundays off presented by the committee would not do such things.
goal is for Israel have a real weekend, which our society and economy needs,”
Shalom said. “The alternatives being considered would give workers more time
off, but they would not benefit the economy and society.”
Caucus co-chairman Zevulun Orlev (Habayit Hayehudi) called upon relevant
institutions and organizations to start preparing for the initiation of a longer
weekend, because “there is no going back” from the move.
Netanyahu gave the Kandel committee until the end of March to complete its work,
Orlev said the committee needed to finish early, because the Knesset would not
wait to pass the Sundays-off bill. Orlev said there was a strong majority for
the bill, which he sponsored together with coalition chairman Ze’ev Elkin and
Labor MK Eitan Cabel.
Kadima MK Ze’ev Bielski participated in the meeting
and said MKs from his faction would also support the bill, making its passage
“After the bill passes and is implemented, everyone
will be asking why we didn’t do this a long time ago,” said the co-chairman of
the caucus, Likud MK Yariv Levin.