Arab MKs slam Sundays-off initiative

MK Tibi says Fridays must be a day of rest for Muslims for religious reasons; Shas's position on move hinges on Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.

Tibi yelling in Knesset 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file[)
Tibi yelling in Knesset 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file[)
Vice Premier Silvan Shalom’s proposal to enact a five-day work week with Sundays off was the talk of the Knesset corridors on Tuesday, a day after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu formed a committee to consider the change.
Shas chairman Eli Yishai appeared to put the initiative in jeopardy on Tuesday morning when he told the haredi station Radio Kol Hai that his party’s mentor, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, opposed it. He said Yosef had instructed the Shas faction to oppose increasing work hours on Fridays and giving Sundays off.
But Yishai’s spokesman later issued a clarification saying that the opinion he expressed on the radio was only “Shas’s current position,” and that if the committee appointed by Netanyahu endorses the move, Yosef would be asked to rule again and the rabbi could accept it.
United Torah Judaism rabbis have not issued a formal ruling but MK Yisrael Eichler said he had no problem with Sundays being a day off in which people could do errands that they could not do on Shabbat.
Arab MKs however said they would vehemently oppose the initiative.
Ta’al MK Ahmed Tibi said Friday had to be a day of rest for Muslims for religious reasons.
United Arab List MK Taleb a- Sanaa complained that the proposal would violate the rights of the 20 percent Muslim population of the country that saw Friday as their Sabbath.
“Israel is in the Middle East, not Europe,” Sanaa said. “You can’t live in the Middle East and pretend you are in Europe. We see this proposal as political and nonsensical. It’s part of this government’s attempt to harm everything connected to the Arab population in Israel.”
When informed that the highest populated Muslim countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Turkey and Pakistan, had all adopted Saturday and Sunday as their weekend, he blamed it on the “colonialism” that ruled those countries in the past.
Tunisia, Morocco, and Lebanon also have Saturday-Sunday weekends.
Saudi Arabia, Oman and Yemen have Thursdays and Fridays off. Fridays and Saturdays are weekends in Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, Libya, and Syria.