Daylight saving time

We urge the new government to take the partial DST reform of the last government and finally align Israel with its European neighbors.

Man looks at his watch daylight savings DST 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/David Gray)
Man looks at his watch daylight savings DST 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/David Gray)
One of life’s simple pleasures is leaving work at the end of a hard day and, instead of encountering darkness, finding a sunny sky.
Whether used for a pre-evening walk, a sporting event or bike ride with the children, or a quick jaunt to the beach, that extra daylight is like a gift from above.
On Friday at 2 a.m. we move the clocks ahead an hour, as Israel enacts daylight saving time, enabling the above scenarios to take place for the next 193 days, until October 6.
This is the longest period of daylight saving time in Israel’s history, the result of legislation passed last year which sets DST as beginning at the end of March and ending at the beginning of October.
That extends the period two weeks later than last year’s, when it ended just before Yom Kippur. This year DST ends three weeks after Yom Kippur.
The ongoing struggle regarding DST has been due to opposition from religious parties, which want to ensure that the period ends before Yom Kippur to enable a fast that ends earlier in the day. On the other side of the fence have been legislators pushing to extend DST even further, due to its benefits in energy saving (lights get turned on later) and a reduction in the number of traffic accidents (more driving during daylight).
There have been many international studies carried out with conflicting findings as to exactly how much, if any, energy is saved by DST, considering the extra use of air conditioners during the daylight hours.
The current legislation extending DST to 193 days came as a result of a committee set up by then interior minister Eli Yishai in the wake of public protest last fall and a petition signed by nearly 400,000 citizens calling for Israel to adopt the European model of 218 days of daylight saving time.
“The decision [to move the clocks back before Yom Kippur] means millions of working citizens in Israel will return home from work in the dark, and will rise in the morning after the sun has warmed up our already-hot country,” said the petition.
“Standard time cuts short the quality time that parents have with their children, adds to the risk of traffic accidents because of the additional travel in the dark, puts the local time at variance with the time in Europe and the rest of the world, and costs the Israeli economy hundreds of millions of shekels.”
Yishai, whose Shas party opposed extended DST, adopted the committee’s recommendations to compromise at the current 193 days, despite its findings that the energy savings and drop in traffic accidents were negligible. But for many, the extra hour of daylight was all that mattered, and for some, it’s still not enough.
MK Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz) has already proposed alternative legislation calling on Israel to align with the European custom and extend DST until the beginning of November. The issue will likely become a battle in the new Knesset, where haredi factions will undoubtedly oppose the plan.
“The last Knesset saw a meaningful, yet partial, success,” Horowitz said recently. “The Israeli public deserves an additional month of daylight, a month that would lower the number of accidents and give people an additional hour of light during the day’s most important time.”
Horowitz and the Israel Hofshit (Be Free Israel) movement, whose mission is to promote freedom of religion and pluralism in Israel, have sent Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar a letter requesting he reexamine the issue.
“The decision taken by the previous government has still left Israel trailing behind the rest of the developed world in regards to daylight saving time and effective utilization of daylight,” Miki Gitzin, the movement’s general manger, said.
Sa’ar, who will ultimately be the spearhead for any future bill regarding DST, told reporters last week that he will be reexamining the issue.
We urge Sa’ar and the new government to take the partial DST reform that was achieved in the last government and finally align Israel with its European neighbors. This is one area in which more daylight between us is better for all of us.