Whoever thinks that shortening daylight-saving time was all about easing the plight of those fasting on Yom Kippur, as claimed by the Shas leader, does not know who he is dealing with, as it is written that on the Day of Atonement "you shall inflict your souls" (Leviticus XXXIII).
Eli Yishai's real aim was to strengthen his shaky leadership. He wants to show his party supporters how strong he is, how he still has sway over the government and the people of Israel, how he even has the power to move the clock - backward.
Yishai is attempting a comeback after a tough knocking he took when Prime Minister Ariel Sharon sacked him and his faction from the government and he was forced to write a letter of apology in order to get back in. He still hasn't recovered from a recent survey among Shas MKs that showed that most of them would be happy to see Aryeh Deri back at the helm. It was, therefore, imperative for Yishai to show his full power, that he can still make the people of Israel dance to his tune, and he was, therefore, delighted when on Sunday, 14 cabinet ministers (including Sharon) voted in favor of a bill to shorten summer time by three weeks, with the Labor ministers doing a bunk and leaving only Natan Sharansky to vote against.
MK Avraham Poraz (Shinui) feels betrayed. He reached an agreement in July 2000 with the ultra-Orthodox parties that set the summer time schedule up to 2004 - an arrangement that was welcomed by Yishai and approved by 64 MKs. MK David Azoulay (Shas) managed the negotiations with Poraz on behalf of his faction, and everyone knew that this year, Yom Kippur would fall in summer time, so it is quite ridiculous to claim now that "we've only just noticed."
The story is really much simpler. The parties reached a compromise of 150 days of daylight-saving time, even though it should have been much more, and Poraz waived a central principle, that Israel's clocks should move in time with those of Europe - ending summer time on October 31 - so that the time difference would not become confusing (such as for flight schedules). In addition, summer time would have lasted a whole month longer, bringing savings in both economic terms and in actual lives.
But the saving of NIS 8 million over three weeks is neither here nor there for Yishai. Saving lives by reducing the number of road accidents also fails to wash with him. Longer daylight hours, allowing more family time together after the working day is really not a matter for the Shas leader because his supporters are not those that go out to work, but rather sit in yeshivas and kollels. So the taxpayers will work a little harder for us, laughs the interior minister, winking to his buddies.
Poraz is right when he says, "I reached an agreement with rogues, people for whom the words `agreement' and `honesty' mean nothing at all."
He was right again when he said: "This is a government of cowards, prepared to show contempt for the Knesset and to abandon the secular in order to satisfy the ultra-Orthodox."
But for how long?
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