It may be a sunnier autumn for Israelis as the Knesset approved on Monday a first reading of a bill to extend daylight savings time until the end of October.
The Cabinet on Sunday lent its support to the bill that was presented by Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar. The proposal would push the working day one hour back into the sunnier hours of the day, pushing the October sunset from around 5 p.m. to approximately 6 p.m.
The Knesset approved the bill with 48 votes in support and 5 against.
“This is an important decision,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in the wake of the Cabinet’s vote of support. “We now have a
land flowing with milk, gas and sunshine,” he added, referring to the government’s decision on gas exports, which was also raised in the Cabinet meeting Sunday.
The move is expected to offer more comfortable working hours for most Israelis, though it has faced criticism from religious groups for seemingly extending — by a crucial, difficult hour — the Yom Kippur fast. Supporters note it will better synchronize Israel’s workday with that of Europe, Israel’s largest regional trading partner.
If the bill passes, daylight savings would extend from 2 a.m. on the Friday before the last Sunday in March until the last Sunday in October, an extension of some three weeks beyond the current schedule.
The government’s approval Sunday increased the bill’s chances for quick passage through the legislative process. It is already slated to undergo a first reading in the plenum as early as Monday, and Sa’ar has said he hoped to pass the bill into law by the end of the current Knesset session at the end of July. If he succeeds, the new schedule will already be in effect by the fall of 2013.
“The new daylight savings bill will bring more light to Israel and its citizens,” said Sa’ar.
The current proposal stems from the conclusions of a government committee headed by Shmuel Abuav, a former director-general of the Education Ministry, who examined dozens of studies worldwide and recommended that Israel adopt a 211-day-average daylight savings period each year, far longer than the 182-day average of the past eight years.
The committee estimated that the new schedule would add some NIS 300 million to the Israeli economy.