Israeli Minister Threatens to Resign if Bill Barring Stores From Opening on Shabbat Not Passed

The bill is slated for a first Knesset vote on Monday evening and the governing coalition is having trouble cobbling together enough votes

Interior Minister Arye Dery is threatening to resign from the government if the bill that would restrict the opening of stores on Shabbat doesn’t pass its first reading Monday night.

The governing coalition is having trouble cobbling together enough votes to pass the bill, which would allow the interior minister to strike down municipal bylaws that permit commerce on Shabbat.

The crisis arose when the Yisrael Beiteinu faction, led by Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, announced that four of its lawmakers planned to vote against the bill, while one of its ministers, Sofa Landver, would abstain. Lawmaker Tali Ploskov (Kulanu) also said she would abstain, while Likud lawmakers Sharren Haskel, Oren Hazan and Yehuda Glick were also threatening to abstain.

Under those circumstances, full attendance by the opposition could cause the bill to fail.

The governing coalition set the vote for early Tuesday morning in the hopes it could persuade independent lawmaker Orli Levi-Abekasis or some members of the opposition Joint List to abstain.

Haaretz has learned that Dery has threatened to resign if the bill doesn’t pass, although his office would not comment. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, returning from Europe, is en route to the Knesset to try to resolve the crisis.