Although Israeli winter time officially began on Sunday morning, government ministers continued to argue over the controversial time shift, which happened over a month before the rest of the Western world.

At the opening of the weekly government meeting, Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat (Likud) criticized the adjustment, which saw clocks in Israel moved back by one hour at 2 a.m. on Sunday.

“I cannot understand the argument for shortening summer time,” Livnat said. “There is no reason or justification. It is a waste of energy and electricity and we need to change this. Summer time should continue at least until November.”

The early ending of daylight saving time raises the ire of many, who see the annual event as being solely of benefit to the religious community. The 25-hour fast of Yom Kippur falls this coming Wednesday and moving the clocks back, while not shortening the fast, does bring forward the time of day when it ends.

Science and Technology Minister Daniel Hershkowitz, 2011. (photo credit: Gili Yaari/Flash90)

Science and Technology Minister Daniel Hershkowitz, 2011. (photo credit: Gili Yaari/Flash90)

However, Science and Technology Minister Daniel Hershkowitz, who heads the right-wing religious Habayit Hayehudi party, denied the claim and called for an end to hounding the religious community over the clock change.

“There is no truth in the claim that there is a connection between moving the clocks and religious issues and the state,” he said at the weekly government meeting. “It’s about time we ended this saga.”

Hershkowitz added that a final decision on the matter should be made on the basis of expert opinions on what is best for the country.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on coalition chairman Zev Elkin (Likud) to advance a summer time extension law that is currently languishing in the Knesset Interior Committee.

Yom Kippur, which falls on a different date each year based on the Jewish calendar, arrives relatively early this year, making the change all the more noticeable.

The dispute also comes against the backdrop of rising tensions between the secular masses and the politically powerful ultra-Orthodox minority. Much of the anger is being directed at Interior Minister Eli Yishai, whose ultra-Orthodox Shas party has played a key role in shaping the law.

Yishai has resisted repeated calls to push back the clock change. In 2010, when Yom Kippur came even earlier in September, nearly 400,000 people signed a petition urging him to change the system.

Following the outcry, Yishai appointed a committee to study the matter. But its recommendation that the summer clock remain in effect until early October was never implemented.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.