AM:PM store in Israel.
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
The coalition looks likely to pass the Shas-led “minimarkets bill”, which hopes to prevent more stores from opening on Shabbat, by a narrow margin in the vote planned for Monday.
Interior Minister Arye Deri’s proposal has been a point of contention within the coalition, with Yisrael Beytenu vowing to vote against it.
The coalition agreed on Sunday to make gas station convenience stores an exception to the bill, hoping to sway the votes of MKs Tali Ploskov (Kulanu) and Sharren Haskel (Likud), who had opposed the bill and skipped its first reading.
However, the two did not commit to voting for the bill, with Ploskov saying she needs to see the changes before deciding.
The “minimarkets bill” states that any municipality that wants to pass a new local law to open stores on Saturdays will need an interior minister’s approval, which Deri does not plan to give, though future ministers might. It does not create new enforcement options for the many shops that open illegally on the Sabbath and pay municipal fines.
The controversial bill is part of a compromise between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) parties in order to keep them in the coalition.
The vote was postponed last week because the coalition didn’t have a majority, with Religious Affairs Minister David Azoulay hospitalized and Likud MK Yehudah Glick sitting shiva (mourning) for his wife. Neither factor deterred Deri from trying to convince them to come to the Knesset, without avail, because the people close to Glick to whom Deri spoke refused to relay the message, and Azoulay’s doctor would not let him out of the hospital.
Both Glick and Azoulay are expected to be back in the Knesset and vote in favor of the bill on Monday.
In addition, a spokesman for Zionist Union MK Yossi Yona said on Sunday that the lawmaker would not come to the Knesset on Monday because he is sitting shiva for his father.
These factors all tipped the coalition towards a narrow majority, and with the gas station exception, coalition chairman David Amsalem (Likud) said he expects a three- to four-vote margin on Monday evening.