Ministers, MKs, artists voice support for long weekends

Shalom hosts conference on benefits of Sundays off; initiative would “put the citizen in the center,” Vice Premier Shalom says.

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July 29, 2011 04:11
2 minute read.
Silvan Shalom

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

Ministers, MKs, artists and athletes gathered to show their support for a two-day weekend, at an event hosted by Vice Premier Silvan Shalom at his office in Tel Aviv on Thursday.

The initiative would “put the citizen in the center,” and once it is implemented, “we won’t understand how we didn’t do this earlier,” the Likud’s Shalom quipped.

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“Switching to a long weekend is a bipartisan move that includes all sectors in Israel,” he said.

“This is the time to change our way of thinking, and work on our civilian agenda,” Shalom said. “In recent days, we see authentic, true protests rising from the middle class.

It’s clear to everyone that we need to change our priorities and invest more in health, education, housing and welfare.”

More than 100 public figures, including Science Minister Daniel Herschkowitz (Habayit Hayehudi), Tourism Minister Stas Meseznikov (Israel Beiteinu) and Ministerwithout- Portfolio Yossi Peled (Likud), attended the conference in favor of Shalom’s initiative to make Sunday a day off.

Coalition chairman MK Ze’ev Elkin (Likud), an active supporter of the two-day weekend, said that “in the next decade, the Shabbat-observant population will grow, and as a result, the amount of commerce [on Saturdays] will go down. If we do not switch to a Saturday-Sunday weekend, the economy will collapse.”

“The change will happen – the question is if we will lead the change or if we will let the change lead us,” Elkin said.

Meseznikov said that Israel Beiteinu and its chairman, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, would back legislation to make Sundays a day off. MK Zevulun Orlev (Habayit Hayehudi) plans to form a Knesset caucus to support the initiative, and MK Ghaleb Majadele (Labor) announced that he would promote long weekends to Israeli-Arabs.

Uriel Lynn, president of the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce, said that a long weekend would increase business owners’ income and help the economy as a whole.

Israel Football Association chairman Avi Luzon said he and Maccabi Tel Aviv Basketball chairman Shimon Mizrahi back the initiative, which would “allow religious fans to take part in our sporting events.”

Polls show that 73 percent of Israelis favor an extended weekend and a longer workday during the week.

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced that a committee headed by Economics Council chief Eugene Kandel would issue recommendations on the subject before the Knesset’s summer recess ends in October.

Elkin has said, however, that there may enough parties that support the bill for it to pass even if Netanyahu opposes it.

Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.


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