Shas wants session on hametz ruling

Party aims to overturn court decision; religious parties collect 40 signatures to convene Knesset.

Bread 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Bread 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Hametz is guaranteed to be a hot topic next week, and not just because of the ceremonial burnings of the leavened products throughout the country. A special Knesset plenum session has been called during the Pessah recess, following a Jerusalem court ruling limiting the extent of the Hametz Law. 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. Although the signatures were collected earlier this week, the date and time for the session was set on Wednesday, when the Knesset announced that the hearing would be held next Monday, most likely in the morning. Shas representatives have already said they believe that all three readings of the bill overturning the ruling could be pushed through the Knesset in a single day. The storm over hametz began last Thursday, when a Jerusalem court ruled that stores and eateries could sell hametz over Pessah. Tension picked up over the weekend, when Shas ministers threatened a coalition crisis if the cabinet and Knesset failed to overturn - or work around - the ruling that narrowly interpreted a largely unenforced 1986 law banning the public display of leavened products for sale or consumption during the holiday. Fuel was added to the fire on Monday, when UTJ MK Shmuel Halpert submitted the 40 signatures necessary for a special session of the Knesset. Also Monday, MK Avraham Ravitz (UTJ) submitted an appeal to Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik to amend the Hametz Law by removing the word "public," which would make the law a comprehensive prohibition against selling hametz on Pessah. But the proposal will not pass without opposition. MK Ran Cohen (Meretz) said shortly after the ruling that he was planning to sponsor a law that would explicitly secure the ability to sell hametz in local stores, bakeries and any establishment in which the product was not visible to the general public. "As a lover of matza," said Cohen, "matza oppression is religious oppression and thus must be reduced as much as possible." During a speech Tuesday evening at the Netanya Academic College, Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit (Kadima) said that any mayor who requested an order allowing them to enforce the Hametz Law would be granted one. Sheetrit defended the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court ruling, arguing that it was a legal ruling, but could be appealed - although he criticized the MKs who had initiated the proposal to change the law.