Shas appeals to Friedmann to intervene in battle against court's hametz decision

Yishai says he is drafting legislation to overturn the court's decision, that allowed businesses to sell hametz on Passover.

Bread 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Bread 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Shas chairman Eli Yishai asked Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann during Sunday's cabinet meeting to instruct the State Attorney's office to appeal a court decision last Thursday to allow stores and restaurants to sell hametz (leavened products) on Pessah. But Shas officials said they knew they had an uphill battle ahead of them to try to overturn the court's decision in time for the holiday that starts the night of April 19. Yishai received a cool reaction from Friedmann, who said he would look into the matter, but took no action on Sunday. Friedmann received an honorary position on Shinui's list for Knesset in the 2003 election. Yishai's other hopes are that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert or Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit will take action. But Sheetrit, who has never gotten along with Shas, is steamed at them for blocking his initiative to limit the number of municipal council members in a Knesset committee meeting last week. "I think it's a mistake to interfere with legislation, and it's impossible to enforce such a law anyway," Sheetrit told The Jerusalem Post. "Most Israelis don't eat hametz anyway, and the rest will be able to get it no matter what the government does." Olmert said at Kadima's ministerial meeting on Sunday that the matter was sensitive and that they had to proceed with caution. "This issue has to be handled wisely, so it won't look like we are fighting the courts," Olmert said. "I think a way can be found to maintain the status quo [prohibiting selling hametz]." Yishai said he was drafting legislation to overturn the court's decision. But the Knesset is on recess and it will be hard to pass such a bill in three readings over the next two weeks, especially if Yishai intends to try other means of overturning the decision before starting on the legislative track. "The decision is a black stain on the Jewish identity of the State of Israel," Yishai told the cabinet. "Most of the public opposes the decision, which violates one of the cornerstones of Jewish identity." In the meeting of Kadima ministers, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said she opposed the decision of the court. "Between Eli Yishai and Yosef Lapid and between Meretz and United Torah Judaism there is no vacuum," Livni told the ministers. "Kadima is there. Most of us do not keep Jewish law and I disagree with the haredi parties on a lot of things, but we have an interest in maintaining the values and symbols of a Jewish state. Unfortunately, since the religious parties took a monopoly on Jewish issues in a way that expresses only their religious aspects, it has created anger and tension that has damaged the Jewish identity of the country."