Despite Shas pressure, cabinet fails to discuss Hametz Law

With less than a week to go before the festival also known as "the holiday of the matzot," Shas's push to amend the so-called Hametz Law in time for Pessah crumbled on Sunday as the cabinet stood fast to the decision not to discuss the matter during its weekly meeting. On Saturday, Shas threatened repercussions against the government if Cabinet Secretary Ovad Yehezkel's decision not to put the Hametz Law on the table at the meeting due to procedural considerations remained in effect. Yehezkel said Friday that he rejected the request for a cabinet vote because it wasn't submitted on time. Prior to the cabinet meeting, Shas officials had threatened that should the ministers fail to vote on the issue, they would consider taking punitive steps against the coalition, including not joining with the coalition in key Knesset votes. But on Sunday evening, after the cabinet meeting passed without a vote on the law, Shas officials remained coy as to whether they would vote with the coalition during the special Knesset plenum session scheduled for Monday. They did, however, hint that it would be very hard for the government to come up with a convincing argument as to why Shas should vote with the coalition. In any case, Shas is planning to submit a private bill - possibly before the end of the Pessah recess - in an additional attempt to amend the law to prevent the sale of leavened products altogether. "This isn't just a haredi matter," said Shas spokesman Ro'i Nachmanovich. "In fact, it isn't a haredi matter. Haredim aren't the ones exposed to hametz on public display because during the holiday, they remain in their neighborhoods. It is the traditional public, who live in non-haredi neighborhoods, who are exposed to it." "We urge that nobody buy hametz as a result of the absurd ruling of the Jerusalem court judge," added Nachmanovich, referring to the municipal court ruling 10 days ago that stores and eateries could sell hametz during Pessah as long as it was not visible from the street. The special Knesset session will be held on Monday after religious parties collected the signatures of 40 MKs from Shas, United Torah Judaism, Likud and the National Union/National Religious Party to call the legislature into a special session.