Until last night, it wasn’t clear the Shabbat Mini-Market bill had a majority to pass in the Knesset. It reached a point where Shas chief Minister Aryeh Deri threatened to quit if the law didn’t pass.
The Shabbat Mini-Market bill is a social and religious law that prohibits, with the notable exception of Tel Aviv, mini-markets and local businesses from operating on the Jewish day of rest. The bill restrictions do not include restaurants, cafes, bars, theaters, concert halls, and other places of entertainment. Pharmacies are also allowed to be open.
MK Yehuda Glick (Likud) had made it clear that he would not vote with the coalition on any bills, including the Shabbat bill, not because he opposed the bill, but because all the bills he has tried to introduce in the Knesset have not been received any support by his fellow coalition members.
MK Sharren Haskel also said she was voting against the bill.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with MKs Glick and Haskel to convince them to vote with the coalition. Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked also promised to pass Glick’s bill which would ban cigarette advertising on the Internet.
Both MKs subsequently agreed to vote with the coalition.
Shas MK David Azulai is in the hospital, which would have been another lost vote to the coalition.
To the surprise of many, Meretz’s new party chief MK Ilan Gilon announced he would abstain from voting in order to offset Azulai’s absence from the vote.
Gilon’s decision goes against the demands of his fellow opposition members on this bill, requiring all members vote against the bill and the coalition.
Minister Avigdor Liberman’s party does not support the bill and didn’t vote with the coalition. Kulanu MK Rachel Azaria also opposed the bill.
The vote passed its first reading 59-54 early Tuesday morning.