DEC. 7, 2016
An Israeli flag displayed on a roof of a settlement in East Jerusalem is seen in front of the dome of the Al-Aqsa Mosque on Sept. 17, 2015 (AFP/Thomas Coex, File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — The Israeli Knesset Wednesday postponed for the third time a controversial bill that would impose limits on the Muslim call to prayer in Israel and in occupied East Jerusalem, according to Israeli media.
The so-called “muezzin bill” — referring to the men responsible for the call to prayer — calls for barring the use of loudspeakers for any religious or “inciting” messages as part of the call to prayer, and wasapproved by the Israeli Ministerial Committee on Legislation as draft legislation last month.
The call to prayer — also known as the adhan — is broadcast five times a day from mosques or Islamic centers.
According to the Times of Israel, Knesset member Moti Yogev, the sponsor of the bill, had called for the delay of the vote after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, an outspoken supporter of the bill, ordered its “softening” that would line up with compromises made with ultra-Orthodox Jewish groups several weeks ago who requested that the bill be amended to only apply to the night hours.
On Monday, Times of Israel reported that Likud MK Yehudah Glick and Zionist Union MK Zouheir Bahloul organized an “interfaith meeting” in the Knesset to resolve the issue of the call to prayer and to urge the Israeli government to scrap the bill.
The meeting reportedly concluded with a “joint proclamation” to replace the bill with a “Jewish-Muslim task force” that would be expected to resolve complaints over the noise levels of the call to prayer in primarily mixed Arab-Jewish neighborhoods in Israel.
After the bill’s initial approval in mid-November, Israeli Minister of Health Yaakov Litzman appealed the bill, a day before it was set to be discussed in the Knesset, fearing that it could inadvertently affect the use of the siren at synagogues to mark the beginning of Shabbat.
The appeal effectively postponed the draft legislation from entering further legislative readings in the Knesset.However, according to the Times of Israel, the MKs agreed on amending the controversial bill to only apply to overnight hours (from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.), which excludes the time that the Jewish Shabbat siren is broadcasted by synagogues.
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