Netanyahu Aims to Ban Mosque Loudspeakers During Day Too, Source Says

The prime minister is allegedly jockeying with Naftali Bennett for favor on the right after the Habayit Hayehudi leader’s success with the outpost bill.

A mosque in Acre, November 2016.
Abdullah Shama

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seeks a harsher version of the bill that would ban the use of loudspeakers at mosques to call Muslims to prayer, a source close to the prime minister told Haaretz Tuesday.

Netanyahu reportedly does not want loudspeakers used during the day, not just the night. According to the source, Netanyahu seeks to curry favor with the right following the vote Monday in which the Knesset, in a preliminary reading, voted in favor of a bill that would legalize unauthorized West Bank outposts.

That bill, which does not include the Amona outpost due for evacuation by December 25, is seen as an achievement for the leader of the Habayit Hayehudi party, Education Minister Naftali Bennett.

The muezzin bill has been submitted to the Knesset in various versions over the past six years. Two weeks ago, after the outpost bill temporarily stalled, Bennett said he would not support any of the governing coalition’s bills. Netanyahu asked Bennett to support at least the muezzin bill, but Bennett refused.

A modified version of the bill, which the ultra-Orthodox parties agreed on, prohibits the use of loudspeakers during the night. It was due to be discussed Tuesday, before Netanyahu demanded that loudspeakers not be used during the day either.

Interior Minister Arye Dery has linked the outpost bill with the muezzin bill.

“A few weeks ago, the Ministerial Committee for Legislation was supposed to discuss both bills ... [and] I brought up the muezzin bill to see if there was any point . All the ministers said it was redundant and harmful, so let’s stick with the existing situation and reach an understanding with the local-government heads or imams,” Dery told the website Kikar Hashabbat.

“This had been agreed on with the prime minister; everyone understood that the bill was going to be postponed for two to three weeks until we reached an understanding.”

But then Netanyahu changed his mind, Dery said. “The night the battle between Likud and Habayit Hayehudi on the [outpost] bill started and Netanyahu heard that it was passed in the Knesset, he said, ‘If so, we’ll vote on the muezzin bill as well,” Dery said.