Israeli Premier League soccer games may be continued to be played on Shabbat, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein declared Wednesday, following a status quo of allowing the games which Israel has practiced for decades.
Weinstein issued the letter as a formal response to Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev (Likud), who requested a formal opinion on the issue.
All soccer games in Israel's Premier League and National League were threatened for cancellation following the expiration of the ultimatum set by the Soccer Federation and the Leagues' Administration for a decision regarding Sabbath games, after a firestorm was raised over a decision to move all major games to the Jewish day of rest.
Weinstein's decision evoked mixed reactions on Wednesday.
"I thank the Attorney General for helping me keep soccer, the law in Israel and Shabbat," Miri Regev responded. "I am committed to the issue, and I believe we can reach a compromise that meets the principle that anyone who wants to play on Saturday, will play, and whoever does not, will not."
"There are people who go to synagogue on Saturday. There are people who go to football. There are people who go to the synagogue and then football," Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid remarked. "The time has come for them to live together."
"I support the movement to preserve Israel's unique day of rest – Shabbat – but football is also part of it," he insisted.
Jewish Home MK Betzalel Smotrich disagreed, calling the ruling "a serious and illegal decision which satirizes the rule of law." He further accused Weinstein of not having sufficient legal precedent to issue such a ruling, arguing that a status quo does not justify itself.