Chairman of the Joint List, MK Ayman Odeh (Hadash), announced on Saturday, December 9, that his parliamentary bloc will vote against the Haredi (Ultra-Orthodox) sponsored “Supermarket Law” which will prevent grocery stores and food chains from operating on the Jewish Sabbath (Friday evening to Saturday night) and on Jewish religious holidays. “The Joint List will vote against the Supermarket Law this coming week, which will put the government in trouble after Yisrael Beytenu also announced that it will oppose the legislation,” Odeh said in a speech in the city of Nes Ziona.
The government had attempted to recruit the support of the Joint List MKs in order to avoid a coalition crisis with Yisrael Beytenu, which has vowed to oppose the law. The government approved the Supermarket Law in a cabinet session last week, and the bill subsequently moved on to the Knesset where it passed the first of three mandatory readings (59 for, 54 against, with 1 abstention), early Tuesday morning, December 12.
If enacted, the law will restrict local municipalities from passing bylaws enabling businesses to remain open on the Jewish Sabbath. The cabinet approved the bill despite the opposition of the ministers from Yisrael Beytenu, who consider such legislation to be religious coercion. Housing Minister Yoav Galant (Kulanu) abstained from voting during last week’s cabinet session.