Silencing mosques: Israeli ministers pass bill seeking ban on Muslim call to prayer
Indonesian Muslims attend Friday prayers at the National Monument, also known as Monas, during a rally calling for the arrest of Jakarta's Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, popularly known as Ahok, who is accused of insulting the Koran, in Jakarta, Indonesia December 2, 2016. REUTERS/Iqro Rinaldi

An Israeli ministerial panel has endorsed a controversial piece of legislation that seeks to 'silence mosques'. The bill seeking ban on the Muslim call to prayer five times a day, which has been in the works for some time, has been passed by the Israeli Ministerial Committee for Legislation, reports have said.

The ministerial panel issued a statement on Sunday saying the "bill for prevention of noise from public address systems in houses of prayer" was passed. Earlier, the leaders of the Palestinian Authority had condemned the move to silence mosques saying it will lead to 'catastrophic' consequences.

In November last year, the Knesset Ministerial Committee for Legislation authorized the bill that binds mosques not to use outdoor loudspeakers, the Jerusalem Post had reported. The bill should go through several levels of discussions before it becomes law.

"Israel is committed to freedom for all religions, but is also responsible for protecting citizens from noise," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, the JP reported. The Muslim call to prayer is made five times a day and lasts a few seconds each time. If it's passed, the bill be enforced around the al-Aqsa Mosque and in the occupied Palestinian territories.

After securing the key ministerial committee's approval the bill will come up for discussion before the parliament on Wednesday, the Albawaba reported. If it's passed in parliament it will have to go through a second and third hearing as well.

The controversial bill is also known as 'muezzin bill' even though the bill doesn't mention any specific religion. The bill had been rejected earlier as Friday evening sirens from Jewish places of worship would also have come under its purview.

Palestinian leaders criticized the bill vehemently. "This law does not deal with noise nor with quality of life, just with racist incitement against a national minority ... The voice of the muezzin was heard here long before the racists of the (Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu and will after them," Palestinian MP Ayman Odeh said.