Israel to Get a Longer Summer

The current daylight-saving time was introduced to accommodate the religious community in Israel who sought to end the Yom Kippur fast earlier in the day.

Interior Minister Eli Yishai announced Monday his decision to extend daylight-saving time in Israel, accepting the recommendation of an advisory committee he appointed.

According to the new plan, DST will be extended to 193 days, from the end of March to the beginning of October, instead of ending on the Sunday before Yom Kippur.

Tomer Appelbaum

Proponents of DST extension say longer summers will increase market productivity and save tens of millions of shekels due to lower energy consumption in industries and in homes.

The main point of disagreement was Yishai's reluctance to extend the fasting hours on Yom Kippur. According to the new plan, Yom Kippur will take place during DST about fifty percent of time. Yishai consulted with religious authorities before adopting his position.

The matter will now go to the Ministerial Committee for Legislation, which will also hear private members' bills on the issue. MKs Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz ) and Dalia Itzik (Kadima ) have submitted draft laws that would further extend daylight time, in the case of Horowitz's bill until the end of October.

Yishai appointed the advisory committee shortly before the Ministerial Committee for Legislation was due to consider Horowitz's bill. Some politicians at the time accused Yishai of creating the panel in order to simply to head off the prospect of the Yom Kippur fast falling every year when daylight time was still in effect. The committee of experts was instructed to look at options that recognized the "special status" of Yom Kippur.

Several ministers, including Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom, recently expressed support for a substantial extension of daylight time, but it is not clear if they would be satisfied with Yishai's compromise decision.

Even if there is sufficient support for the decision, it is not certain the Knesset will manage to complete the legislative process before the expiration of daylight saving time this year on October 2.