A controversial Israeli bill to silence the Muslim call to prayer is to go forward after it was amended so as not to affect the Jewish Shabbat siren, the speaker’s office said Wednesday.
Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, an ultra-Orthodox Jew, had blocked the draft law in its original form for fear it would also force the toning down of the sirens that announce the start of the Jewish day of rest at sundown each Friday.
But he lifted his objections after it was amended to apply only between 11 pm and 7 am,.
The bill will “probably” now be put to a preliminary vote in parliament “next week,” a spokesman for speaker Yuli Edelstein told AFP.
It will then require three further parliamentary votes before it becomes law but it has already sparked outrage around the Arab and wider Muslim world.
Even Israeli government watchdogs have slammed the proposed legislation, describing it as a threat to religious freedom and an unnecessary provocation.
Arab Israeli lawmaker Ahmed Tibi has vowed to appeal to the High Court of Justice if the Shabbat siren is excluded from the scope of the bill on the grounds that it discriminates between Jews and Muslims.
The law would apply to mosques in annexed Arab east al-Quds (Jerusalem) as well as the occupied territories. But supersensitive Al-Aqsa mosque compound — Islam’s third holiest site — will be exempted.
“No changes will be made on” al-Aqsa Mosque an Israeli official told AFP.