The Jewish Home party is expected to ask for a commitment to work toward a long, Western-style weekend from the new government, as part of its requirements for joining a ruling coalition, it was reported on Sunday.
The proposal would entail changing Sunday to a full day off work, Friday to a day of half work, and increased work and school hours from Monday to Thursday, Yedioth Ahronoth reported. Currently, Sunday is the first day of the work and school week; students attend school six days a week, including Fridays, but most people have Fridays off. Saturday would remain a day of rest.
Jewish Home officials said that the request was a “social initiative” that would benefit Sabbath-observant families, who would have a day off to do non-Shabbat activities together like traveling or visiting museums. Moreover, “such an initiative may also lead to a longer school day during the week, and thus help women return to the workplace.”
Currently, the school day in Israel ends earlier than in other industrialized countries, forcing many parents to pay for afternoon programs to care for their children until the workday is done. Because students also have a shortened school day on Fridays, total learning hours are still comparable to other countries.
A long, Western-style weekend in Israel has been proposed before, most recently in 2011, when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered a special report on the social and economic considerations of the issue.
Official coalition negotiations were scheduled to begin on Sunday, after Netanyahu received the official sanction from President Shimon Peres on Saturday night to form a new ruling coalition for the 19th Knesset. Netanyahu has 28 days to secure a majority coalition, with a possibility of an extension, or face new elections.