Knesset to Revisit Daylight Savings, Again

Recommendations to change the dates of daylight saving time in Israel already exist, yet a second committee is convening.

A new committee is being set up to look into the divisive issue of daylight saving time, Minister of Interior Gideon Sa’ar announced Sunday. The new panel arises just two years after a committee with the same mandate was convened by his predecessor, Eli Yishai, and decided to extend DST, a little.

Traditionally, daylight saving in Israel has ended right before Yom Kippur. The first committee recommended a tweak - postponing the start of the winter clock to the first Sunday after Yom Kippur, which would have been October 1 last year.

It utterly rejected proposals to end DST as late as November 1, which is when the European Union and the United States switch their clocks.

But implementation of that first panel's recommendations has moved forward glacially. The proposed changes to DST were passed after the holiday last year so would only be felt for the first time this year. 

Following the change, DST in Israel will be in effect 193 days this year, instead of 182 days under the old law. It will still fall short of the 218 days customary in the EU and 211 days in North America.

Jordan and Lebanon also follow the EU timetable, while in Syria summer is a few days shorter – 216 days – ending on October 21.

Research done in Israel between 1987 and 1994 showed that DST leads to significant electricity economy. It also found a direct correlation between the rate of traffic accidents and driving in the dark.

More recent studies presented to the Knesset Committee for Internal Affairs raised concerns that that the first committee's recommendation lacked proper research showing the pros and cons of extending DST.

The first panel was also criticized for not soliciting opinions from relevant experts in the government.

Though its report notes that the chosen date of October 1 reflects a compromise between its member's viewpoints and various proposals, it remains unclear how that solution was reached.

During committee discussions last October, the absence of government representatives was noted. Committee chairman MK Amnon Cohen (Shas) called on the Interior Minister to set up another committee to study the subject in greater depth, this time in cooperation with other government ministries.

Heading the new committee will be Shmuel Abuav, former director general of the Ministry of Education and the current head of Or Yarok (Green Light), a not-for-profit traffic safety lobby group. Other members will include Gabi Barabash, head of Ichilov Hospital, Avi Nissenkorn, head of the trade union department at the Histadrut labor federation, Shimshon Shoshani, deputy head of the Council for Higher Education and former director general of the Ministry of Education, and Shraga Brosh, former head of the Manufacturers Association.

Other participants will include Chezi Lifshitz, deputy director general of the Ministry of Energy and Water Resources, responsible for energy conservation, Yonina Eldar, a professor of electrical engineering at the Technion, Yinon Elroy, deputy to the director general at the Ministry of Economics and Trade, Karni Lotan, a researcher of environment and sustainability at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya and Reuven Kogan, deputy director of the budget unit at the Ministry of Finance.

Nir Kafri