Shas threatens crisis over Hametz Law

Party furious over Cabinet Secretary Ovad Yehezkel's decision to leave law off table in Sunday's meeting.

Hametz sale (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Hametz sale
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Shas threatened repercussions against the government if Cabinet Secretary Ovad Yehezkel's Friday decision not to put the Hametz Law on the table at the Sunday cabinet meeting remains in effect. In what promises to be a battle down to the final minute, the fight over amending the Hametz Law took another turn over the weekend after Yehezkel rejected a request from Shas on Friday to hold a vote in Sunday's cabinet meeting on a bill that would outlaw selling hametz (leavened products) during Pessah, which begins on Saturday evening. Shas had hoped to pass the bill in the cabinet on Sunday, and then in the Knesset on Monday, in time for Pessah. But on Friday, Yehezkel said he turned down the request for the cabinet vote because it wasn't presented on time. If the cabinet does not discuss - and vote - on the issue during Sunday's meeting, the matter will not be settled in time for Pessah. Shas was furious at Yehezkel's decision, and party spokesman Ro'i Nachmanovich said that party members were still convinced that the discussion and vote would be held during the Sunday meeting, despite Yehezkel. "We know that we submitted the request on time to the cabinet. We don't want to think that this decision was made for political reasons and not for substantive reasons," said Nachmanovich. "We still think that the cabinet must discuss this issue." Nachmanovich said that should the issue not be raised in the coming cabinet meeting, the party would have to consider its future steps. "We could, for instance, not cooperate in the Knesset," he said. Without the support of Shas, the government would be hard-pressed to pass upcoming legislation. The renewed controversy surrounding the Hametz Law began last Thursday, when the Jerusalem Court for Local Affairs ruled that stores and eateries could sell hametz over Pessah as long as it was not visible from the street. Following the ruling, the signatures of 40 MKs from Shas, United Torah Judaism, Likud and the National Union/National Religious Party were collected to call the Knesset into session in a last-ditch attempt to keep Jerusalem storefronts hametz-free over the holiday.