Religious Parties Protest Proposed Eilat Casinos

YERUSHALAYIM -

While Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Tourism Minister Yariv Levin have launched discussions on how many casinos should be built in Eilat, religious parties have said unequivocally that there should be zero casinos in that or any other city in Israel.

Netanyahu wants only one casino (at least in the initial phase), whereas Levin proposes two to four, along with new hotels, stores and restaurants.

There is also reportedly a dispute over whether Israelis should be allowed to gamble there, or only foreign tourists. Levin wants it open to everyone, while Netanyahu prefers a foreigners only policy, according to Globes.

They were supposed to meet on Wednesday to talk about it.

United Torah Judaism, Shas and Jewish Home quickly came out against the idea.

UTJ MK Moshe Gafni said his party was “totally opposed” to it, and refuted Levin’s argument that they were ignoring the poor economic situation in Eilat.

“What it does to people, to families, it breaks families apart, causes severe societal damage, everyone knows this,” said Gafni.

The Shas party said in a statement that casinos would benefit “the tycoons alone, the capitalists, and will cause heavy damage to the weaker sectors of society.”

“Shas represents the poor in Israel and the weaker sectors, works for them and therefore will oppose the establishment of a casino with full force. Casinos will cause only destruction of families and severe injury to those who have nothing already.”

Jewish Home chairman and Education Minister Naftali Bennett said on Wednesday that the idea was “forbidden morally because casinos contradict the values of our state, serve the strong and weaken the weak, and practically because we will all need to fund the damage and injury to the body and soul that will come along with a casino.”

“Israel isn’t Vegas and it won’t be. We will oppose it,” Bennett pledged.