Interior Minister: Daylight Saving Debate Scapegoats Religious Jews

Dispute over Israel's early annual switch to winter time is 'bizarre', say Eli Yishai.

Interior Minister Eli Yishai told Army Radio on Sunday that a public debate over daylight saving is unfair, as it targets the Israeli religious public.

Eli Yishai -  Tomer Appelbaum - 21/07/2010
Tomer Appelbaum

Israel switched to standard time on Sunday, despite efforts by businessmen and politicians to prolong daylight saving time until the end of October.

Yishai said the "bizarre and comical" debate had unfairly singled out religious people as the main cause for the current situation.

Israel switches to daylight saving each year before Yom Kippur, a move favored by some religious Jews who say it makes the annual 25-hour fast easier to endure.

"The bill to end daylight saving time before Yom Kippur was passed in 2005, while [Shas, the ultra-orthodox religious political party] was in the opposition. It was based on social and financial considerations and enjoyed a broad political consensus," said Yishai.

Earlier shis year, more than 220,000 people signed a petition calling on their fellow Israelis to ignore the time change until the European Union moves to standard time on the last Sunday in October.