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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Will Yair Lapid's Sabbath press conference become the excuse to undo the coalition?

No one is fooling himself that Yair Lapid is a Sabbath observer. But the Israeli government nominally observes the Sabbath. And when the Finance Minister calls a press conference on the Sabbath to announce that there will soon be a solution to the 'budget crisis' (not exactly a matter of life and death that would permit desecrating the Sabbath), it could lead to the undoing of Lapid's agreement with the Jewish Home party and the end of the current coalition.
It should be noted that in December 1976, then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin broke apart his coalition with the Mafdal religious Zionist party over tensions, after an IAF ceremony at an airbase welcoming the arrival of the first three F-15 fighter jets to Israel desecrated the Sabbath.
Jewish Home, the offshoot of Mafdal, has yet to issue a response to Lapid's Shabbat gaff, which comes mere days before the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashana) on Wednesday. 
However, Jewish Home MK Shuli Muallem hinted that Lapid's move may indeed cost the coalition, saying on Saturday "Yair Lapid has the right to do as he pleases in his private home - to cut down trees or pump water (forbidden acts on Sabbath - ed.) - but Yair Lapid works on Shabbat and desecrates the day of rest with the goal of gathering a few lost mandates."
"Jewish Home as a religious party in the coalition can not sit in the government with someone who gathers mandates and desecrates the Sabbath as if it's a normal work day," said Muallem, without elaborating on what exactly her statement will mean in terms of practice.
Surprisingly, the criticism of Lapid didn't just come from the Right.

Surprisingly far-left Meretz party chairperson Zehava Galon joined the criticism of Lapid on Saturday.
"While you were enjoying your day of rest, Finance Minister Yair Lapid decided to drag all the financial journalists from their homes in the middle of Shabbat, inviting them to park at the entrance to his house in Tel Aviv so that they could hear him read off a thoughtless announcement," charged Galon.
"The reading took exactly a minute-and-a-half, but it certainly was enough to destroy the Shabbat of the camermen and journalists forced to arrive to hear the utterances of his excellency the finance minister," added Galon tongue-in-cheek, noting the "unfairness" towards Sabbath observant journalists wasn't the only problem about his "futile announcements" on Shabbat.

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