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Israel's religious parties get more control over Saturday trading

From Reuters - January 8, 2018

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israels parliament passed legislation governing trading on the Jewish Sabbath by a one-vote margin on Tuesday, a vote that has angered secular lawmakers while earning a reprieve for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahus coalition.

The bill, passed by a 58-to-57 vote, affords Israels interior minister the right to cancel municipal by-laws that local councils may wish to enact to allow the opening of shops and restaurants in their areas during the Sabbath.

Most, but not all, Jewish-run shops and supermarkets have traditionally remained closed in Israel during the Sabbath, which runs from sunset on Friday to sunset on Saturday. The number of open establishments varies according to the religious nature of the area.

The legislation, promoted by Interior Minister Aryeh Deri of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, would affect new establishments wishing to open their doors during the Sabbath, but current norms would not be influenced.

Shas and another ultra-Orthodox party have angered Israels secular Jewish majority by trying to limit Saturday trading and threatened to leave Netanyahus coalition, which could have caused it to collapse had the legislation failed.

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