Justice Minister Tzipi Livni announced Monday that she will support legislation proposed by Energy and Water Minister Silvan Shalom to institute a two-day weekend in Israel, including Sunday.
“This is the right move,” Livni said in her remarks at the opening of a Lobby for Religion and State event. “And I know all the questions and arguments against it, but the moment we set a goal, we will be able to find solutions to all the problems that arise.”
Israel currently has a de facto two-day weekend of Friday and Saturday, which partially caters to observant Jews and Muslims who keep their respective religious days of rest on those two days. Jews also use Fridays to prepare for Shabbat, which begins Friday at sundown.
The idea had been kicked around for many years in the Knesset before Shalom first started to spearhead a campaign in 2011. Economists differ on the merits of making Sunday part of the weekend, while having Friday as a half day. Those in favor argue that synchronizing Israel’s workweek with that of most of the world and having an extra day where all sectors of society can enjoy leisure activities would be good for the economy.
Those against the move say that the Friday-Saturday weekend is the most economically effective model, as observant Muslims and Jews are likely to work less efficiently on Fridays. Another argument is that subtracting Sunday from the work week would require an hour’s addition to the workdays Monday-Thursday. Many studies have shown that the later hours of the work day are the least productive.
Shalom has said that embracing globalization is good for Israel both socially and economically.
“Seventy-five percent of the world has a Saturday-Sunday weekend,” he said. “We must be part of the globalization. As of today, we only work with the world four days of the week instead of five. The status quo does not allow the capital, import and export markets to operate in synchronization with the rest of the world.”