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Last month, what has come to be known as the Bar Law passed a preliminary reading in the Knesset plenum by a vote of 37 in favor, three abstentions and one against. If it passes into law, the new statute will prohibit the sale of alcohol at bars and restaurants (and perhaps even supermarkets) between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. At present, bars in Israel are not required by law to close at a certain hour.
The proposal, presented by Kadima MK Ruhama Avraham, is intended to fight "the scourge of violence and the slaughter on the roads," but its effectiveness is a matter of conjecture.
Avraham points to statistics from other countries, where she says similar laws have produced a 50% decrease in violence and a 20% decrease in alcohol-related accidents. Pub owners retort that the abuse of alcohol - rather than alcohol itself - is the source of drinking problems that lead to violence and traffic accidents, adding that a standard closing time would produce more under-the-influence drivers on the roads at the same time.
In 2005, the traditional compulsory closing time of 11 p.m. (or 10:30 p.m. in some districts) was scrapped by some 90,000 pubs in England and Wales. According to press reports, police officials have noticed since licensing hours were extended, major city centers have been quieter on Friday nights.
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