The government approved Sunday the so-called “supermarkets bill,” which endows the Interior Ministry with the powers to overrule municipal bylaws and order the shuttering of supermarkets during the Jewish day of rest, as part of an effort to placate the coalition’s Haredi parties, after the resignation of Health Minister Yaakov Litzman (United Torah Judaism) over work done on Shabbat.
The bill, sponsored by Interior Minister Aryeh Deri (Shas) was approved by a vote of 10 in favor and 2 opposed. The bill also states any new bylaw pertaining to opening shops or recreation centers on Shabbat will have to be approved by the interior minister himself. It will not apply, however, to existing bylaws approved by the High Court, such as the ones allowing supermarkets to remain open in Tel Aviv. An hour after being approved by the government, the bill was approved at the Ministerial Committee for Legislation with a majority of three in favor and one against.
Lieberman announced last week that his party would vote against the bill proposal in the Knesset. While he is not a member of Knesset himself, Yisrael Beytenu’s MKs have all been instructed to vote against the legislation, while Minister Landver will miss the vote. Despite the fact the party’s two ministers will not vote, Yisrael Beytenu’s objection to the bill goes against coalition discipline, which could have ramifications in the future.
In an effort to avoid this predicament, Yisrael Beytenu MK Robert Ilatov turned to coalition chairman David Bitan on behalf of his party on Wednesday, asking not to promote the bill. Yisrael Beytenu is not alone in opposing the bill. Last week, 58 mayors from across the country sent a letter to the prime minister, the interior minister and the justice minister, expressing their objection to the legislation.