Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu on Monday tasked the Head of the National Economic Council, Professor Eugene Kandel, with examining the possibility of making Sunday an additional day of rest instead of a regular work day.
According to the proposal, Shabbos and Sunday will be official days of rest while Friday will become a half day work-wise.
Netanyahu instructed Kandel to set up a special committee, made up of governmental representatives from every ministry, which will consider the proposal’s repercussions. The committee’s recommendations will be presented to the government.
The proposal was drawn up by Minister for Regional Development Silvan Shalom several months ago. Shalom believes Israel’s economy would benefit from a shift to long weekends, as is customary in the rest of the western world.
“It’s a cosmopolitan move. Those who wish to join the world must adopt this ‘long weekend’ model of Saturday-Sunday as done by many countries across the world, such as India, China, Japan and Muslim countries such as Turkey, Morocco, Tunisia and more,” explained Shalom.
“Nearly 75% of the world’s population work according to this model, and Israel must join and align itself with the world,” he added.
Yediot Achronot recently reported that Governor of the Bank of Israel Stanley Fischer has expressed his support of the concept.
According to Shalom, the majority of the Israeli public is interested in working until noon on Fridays and turning Sunday into a day of rest, both in places of work and schools.
According to the proposal, banks and the stock exchange will be closed on Sundays, while businesses will remain open. Soccer matches will be held on Sundays – perhaps to lessen the desecration of the Shabbos.
Meanwhile, Shas Chairman and Interior Minister Eli Yishai said Sunday that his party was against the move, by orders of Chacham Ovadia Yosef.
According to Yishai, the move’s disadvantages outweigh its advantages.
Shas sources said the despite the party’s position on the matter, should the prime minister’s committee’s recommendations support such a move, the matter would be brought before Rav Yosef once more.