Daylight Saving Time will now be determined solely by the civil calendar and last about 10 days longer than in the past, Interior Minister Eli Yishai announced yesterday. The minister capitulated to months of intense public and political pressure to lengthen the period of what is known locally as "summer time."
DST will now begin at 2 A.M. on the Friday before the last Sunday in March, and end at 2 A.M. on the first Sunday after October 1. If the night on which DST is meant to end falls on a Jewish holiday, the switch will be delayed until the holiday is over.
DST will now be in effect for an average of 193 days a year, as opposed to the previous average of 182 days. Until now, the clock was turned forward on the Friday before April 2, but was turned back at 2 A.M. on the Sunday before Yom Kippur, no matter when the holiday fell.
Yishai accepted the recommendations of a committee he had appointed to study the issue. The panel made these recommendations even though a Dahaf Institute poll it had commissioned showed that the public is actually split on the issue of DST.
"It emerged that 46 percent of Israeli citizens would have preferred to shorten summer time or to leave it as it is, with 50 percent wanting to lengthen it," Yishai said yesterday. "Although the poll results were surprising, I decided to lengthen summer time."
The committee was established after a series of public and parliamentary steps that began last fall, when DST ended at the beginning of September. Some 300,000 people signed a petition demanding that DST be lengthened, while three private member's bills stipulating a more substantial lengthening of DST were submitted to the Knesset.
DST will still be around a month shorter than in Europe, and over a month shorter than in the United States.
Immediately after Yishai's announcement, the government gave its backing to the three private member's bills, but stipulated it would not pursue these legislative initiatives until they were coordinated with the relevant ministries.
A new bill that reflects Yishai's announcement is being prepared by the Interior Ministry's legal department and will be submitted to the Knesset during the current session. Yishai expressed hope that the legislation could pass before DST ends this year.
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