Archive for July, 2010


Monday’s session was just over three hours, cut short due to Tisha B’Av. The opposition spent most of that time trying to bring down the government and failed in four consecutive votes. It should be noted that the Yisrael Beitanu MKs did not show up for the vote. The opposition succeeded in delaying all the bills the government wanted to pass and push them from Monday to Wednesday. Tuesday would have no session due to Tisha B’Av.

The Government defeated four no-confidence motions.

  • Kadima’s titled “Netanyahu is dividing the nation” was defeated 29-59 with two abstaining (30 MKs did not vote).
  • Meretz’s titled “The Israeli government creates a rift within the Jewish people due to the law of conversion” was defeated 28-61 with one abstaining (30 MKs did not vote).
  • Ra’am-Ta’al, Chadash and Balad’s titled “Netanyahu government’s policy towards the Arab public” was defeated 29-60 with one abstaining (30 MKs did not vote).
  • National Union’s titled “Government incompetence against the occupation of entire neighborhoods in Tel Aviv and other cities in the country by the tens of thousands of infiltrators from Africa” was defeated 26-60 with three abstaining (34 MKs did not vote).

Other Non-Bill Items

  • House Committee Chairman Levin (Likud) announced the committee’s decisions on which bills in doubt will be discussed in which committees.
  • Interior Committee Chairman Azulai (Shas) asked the Knesset to approve the splitting of one bill into two. The Knesset approved the split 34-0.

Wednesday’s session of nine and a half hours was filled with 24 bills, all of them but one up for their preliminary reading. 15 of the bills were passed, three were turned into motions, three were defeated and two were delayed until next week. The Azmi Bashara and Mine Evacuation Bills were among those advanced. The last bill for dissolving the union between two Arab cities was passed in its first reading.

Summary on Non-Bills

  • Urgent Queries for Deputy Health Minister Litzman, Homeland Security Minister Aharonovitz, Education Minister Sa’ar, Deputy Defense Minister Vilnai and Environment Minister Erdan opened the session.
  • Infrastructure Minister Landau and Transportation Minister Katz answered queries.
  • The Knesset discussed ten motions. Seven were passed and sent to their respective committees by the votes of 13-0, 6-0, 7-0, 9-0 7-0, 7-0 and 7-0. Two motions were not brought up for a vote and one was defeated by a vote of 2-6.

Two Identical Bills: Security Fence Bill Between Israel and Egypt

Chairman of Foreign Workers Committee Ketzeleh (N.U.) explained that the ministerial committee of legislative affairs approved the bill, but Finance Minister Shtinetz objected and delayed the ruling. Ketzeleh warned that the statistics today show 12% of Eilat’s population and 6% (30,000) of Tel Aviv’s population are Sudanese. Ketzeleh said that he feared the number was higher but decided to read off the mayor’s statistics instead. He warned that a fence was only the first step. Ketzeleh warned that the Sudanese are immigrating at a higher rate than Aliyah. He called the Sudanese problem the biggest problem Israel has and that it undermines Israel as a Jewish state. He announced the establishment of a lobby of MKs to address the Sudanese problem. The chairman of the lobby, Ketzeleh announced that MK Shama (Likud) and MK Shai (Kadima) will be the vice-chairmen. Overall almost 40 MKs joined the lobby.

MK Eldad (N.U.) explained that a government policy for the Sudanese must be established, warning that a fence won’t be enough to stop them. He quoted Netanyahu’s Knesset speech on January 20th in which the prime minister promised that the fence would be approved within a week. Eldad accused Netanyahu of hiding behind Finance Minister Shtinetz. He noted that the alternative is that the loyalist minister is rebelling against his prime minister.

Deputy Defense Minister Vilnai (Labor) agreed with MK’s Ketzeleh and Eldad. He echoed the call that the fence will only be the beginning of the solution. He assured the MKs that the government is working on the issue behind the scenes and asked the MKs to vote against the bill.

MK Ketzeleh warned that within three years Tel Aviv will have 100,000 Sudanese and Eilat will have 30,000 Sudanese. He expressed frustration that all of his letters and meetings have gone nowhere and called on the MKs to vote for the bill despite the government’s opposition. He asked for a name call in order to embarrass those who vote against.

MK Eldad asked Defense Minister Vilnai why the government would object to the bill if it matched the prime minister’s position. Eldad alleged that the government wants to defeat the bill because they have no intention of building the fence.

Environment Minister Erdan (Likud) asked the MKs to delay the vote for a week and then they would have government approval.

The MKs agreed.

Amendment on the Income Tax Ordinance

MK Gilon (Meretz) explained that his amendment would create an exemption on company tax for public institutions that receive dividends from a sister company. He stated this would be the only way to save the nonprofit organizations from going under because of the Madoff scandal.

Deputy Finance Minister Cohen (Shas) explained that the amendment would create an unfair advantage of competing NPO over private companies and therefore the government opposes the bill.

The bill was defeated 21-43.

Amendment on the Banking Law

MK Chanin (Chadash) explained his amendment would modernize banking customer service in Israel. It calls for the cancellation of fees for basic services in a current account. Chanin listed the many MKs who co-sponsored the bill. He explained that America, England, Australia and Europe all forbid the double “amalot” that customers pay in Israel. Chanin said for those who are worried about the banks losing money, this bill will only cost the banks 19 million by cancelling certain bank fees.

Deputy Finance Minister Cohen expressed the government opposition to the bill. He said there is no need for a reform on bank fees since one took place last year.

MK Chanin attacked the government and the Labor party in general for objecting to the bill. He added that the bill would create a single bank fee charge and that it would help the competition in the market.

The bill was defeated 28-48.

Amendment on the Bar Bill (establishment of the Central District)

MK Baron (Kadima) explained this was a bill that the previous Justice Minister tried to pass. He accused the government of giving too much power to the Tel Aviv district and therefore a new district must be created to balance the power. He asked why there is a central district for the police and the court but there is no central distich for lawyers.

Justice Minister Neaman expressed government opposition to a bill that would affect the upcoming lawyer elections.

MK Baron wondered why his bill affects the elections but MK Shama’s bill doesn’t.

The bill was defeated 25-44.

Motion/Amendment on the Prohibition of Discrimination of Students in the Educational System Bill

MK Mula (Kadima) explained that this bill would forbid schools from refusing Ethiopians and other minorities in their schools.

Education Minister Sa’ar (Likud) said that racism is found throughout Israeli society. He explained that the bill would reduce the education minister’s power in matters of racism and therefore the government opposes it. He suggested turning the bill into a motion and finding a consensus on the issue.

MK Horovitz (Meretz) a co-sponsor of the bill attacked Sa’ar for not doing enough but agreed to turn the bill into a motion.

The motion passed 35-0 and was sent to the Education Committee.

Motion/Amendment on the Communications Law (Bezeq and Broadcasts)

MK Shai (Kadima) explained his amendment would dedicate an Israeli distribution channel that would broadcast in Arabic for the Middle East. He said the idea would be an Israeli public relations triumph over the anti-Israeli Arabic channels. He called channel 33 a failure and said we need a private investor to step in. He said that an English channel was needed as well.

Communication Minister Kachalon (Likud) said it was a worthy bill but it would add restrictions on certain policies that are being moved forward. He asked MK Shai to turn the issue into a motion.

Shai agreed. The motion passed 20-0 and was sent to the House Committee to determine in which committee it should be discussed.

Motion/Amendment on the Local Authorities Bill

MK Bielski (Kadima) said that as mayor of Ra’anana he learned of the one area that a mayor has no control over, the police. He asked what the 27,432 cops in Israel are doing. He explained his amendment would authorize the enforcement of public order by local authority inspectors in certain simple cases where there are violations but no physical dangers.

Minister Margi (Shas) said there is no reason to spend more money training more people for jobs that are being done anyway. He expressed the government’s opposition to the bill and suggested that Bielski turn the bill into a motion.

MK Bielski agreed. The motion passed 22-0 and was sent to the Interior Committee.

Ban Israeli Boycotts Bill

MK Elkin (Likud) explained that his bill is co-sponsored by all of the committee chairmen. He stated that the bill would fine Israelis and foreigners who choose to start boycott Israel campaigns.

Justice Minister Neaman expressed government support after MK Elkin dropped three paragraphs from the bill.

MK Chanin objected to the bill and called it a hard case that makes a bad law. Chanin pledged freedom of expression.

MK Elkin answered that this bill will save Israel and is very important.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 35-5 and was sent to Justice Committee.

Stop paying wages, benefits and other payments to Knesset Members and former Knesset members who are wanted for investigation for crimes of treason Bill

MK Yisrael Chasson (Kadima) explained that the “Azmi Basara Law” will revoke the pension of all MKs convicted of treason.

Deputy Minister Cohen (Shas) expressed government support for the bill.

MK Zachalka (Balad) objected to any bill that is directed at his former leader Basara and any bill that takes away a pension.

MK Chasson answered that anyone who wants to protect the Knesset must vote in favor of this important bill.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 41-9 and was sent to the House Committee to determine in which committee it should be discussed.

Olympic Preparations Bill

MK Orlev (J.H.) explained that his bill would give more funding towards the preparations for the Israeli delegates in the Olympics.

Culture Minister Livnat (Likud) expressed government support for the bill.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 14-0 and was sent to the Sport Committee.

Additional Services for the Education Basket Bill

MK Orlev explained his bill would add more of a school’s services, such as field trips, to the free education basket.

Education Minister Sa’ar expressed government support for the bill.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 17-0 and was sent to the Education Committee.

Amendment on the Lands Bill

MK Orlev explained his amendment will demand the strengthening of condominiums for earthquakes. It will ease the conditions for approval by strengthening the overall program. Until now all buildings built before 1974 were exempt from this law.

Justice Minister Neaman expressed government support for the bill.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 11-0 and was sent to the Justice Committee.

Three Amendments on the National Health Insurance Law

MK Gafni (U.T.J.) explained that the amendment would create a ceiling for a family’s payment for medical services each quarter.

MK Azulai (Shas) said the amendment will end the standard of paying double for the same service.

MK Cabel (Labor) said that he has passed this bill several times in a preliminary reading but never has the bill made it to a first reading. He hoped this time it would be easier to advance the bill.

Deputy Health Minister Litzman (U.T.J.) expressed government support for the three identical bills.

The bills were passed in their preliminary readings 20-0, 21-0 and 23-0. The bills were sent to the Labor Committee.

Amendment on the Communications Bill (Bezeq and Broadcasts)

MK Cohen (Shas) explained that the amendment would limit advertiser access to consumers’ contact details. It will also create competition for 144 services.

Communications Minister Kachalon expressed government support for the bill.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 11-0 and was sent to the Finance Committee.

Allocation of Negev Land for the Disabled Bill

MK Matalon (Y.B.) explained his bill would allocate subsidies for disabled people to build homes in the Negev.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 11-0 and was sent to the Finance Committee.

Amendment on the Encourage the Research and Development Industry Bill

MK Rotem (Y.B.) explained his amendment would set a limit on state refunds in cases of companies transferring knowledge outside of Israel.

Minister Peled (Likud) expressed government support for the bill.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 14-0 and was sent to the Funds Committee.

Two Amendments on the Foundations of the Budget Bill

MK Chermesh (Kadima) explained that the other amendment by MK Vaknin from last week is identical to this one. The idea is to allow cheaper leases for settlements on the front lines.

Deputy Finance Minister Cohen expressed government support for the bill.

Both bills were passed in their preliminary readings 13-0 and sent to the Funds Committee.

National Authority to Evacuate Mines Bill

MK Hanegbi (Likud) received congratulations from Deputy Speaker Avraham-Balila on receiving three innocent sentences on his political appointments affair. She expressed hope that his fourth sentence where he was convicted of perjury would be overturned. Hanegbi explained that a million mines over 200,000 dunam of Israel’s land is a problem and this bill will remove all of them. He explained that 73 of the 80 MKs who were allowed to co-sponsored the bill with him.

Deputy Defense Minister Vilnai (Labor) expressed government support.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 22-0 and was sent to the Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee.

Amendment on the Payments to POWs Bill

MK Yoel Chasson explained that his amendment would allow the payment of POW (Prisoners of War) dues to a spouse in cases where the soldier died. He stressed the importance of honoring these heroes’ memories by granting their spouses the money they earned and deserve.

Deputy Defense Minister Vilnai was saddened that this bill was coming too late for others who have already passed on to be eligible for this little thank you from the government.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 17-0 and was sent to the Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee.

Amendment on the Local Authorities Bill

MK Magadla (Labor) explained that his amendment would cancel the union of the local councils between Baka-El-Garbiah and Geat. He expressed frustration with the people who tried to bury this bill.

MK Walhaba (Kadima) asked that the government stop playing games and vote for the bill.

Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Simhon expressed government support for the bill.

The bill passed its first reading 27-0 and was sent to the Interior Committee.

Last Tuesday’s session was just under six hours as the plenum ended at 9:54 PM. Only four bills were discussed, and they were passed in their first readings. The biggest chunk of the longest Tuesday of the summer session was the discussion on lifting MK Zoabi’s privileges.

Summary on Non-Bills

  • 19 MKs participated in the one minute speech segment.
  • Former Culture Minister MK Magadla bombarded current Culture Minister Livnat during question hour with allegations of negligence.
  • MK Eldad reported on the Knesset delegation to the Mediterranean Group of NATO’s Parliamentary Assembly in Rome.
  • The Knesset approved Funds Committee Chairman Gafni’s (U.T.J.) proposal 11-0. Gafni explained that his bill would exempt cemeteries that are not used for profit from paying city and government taxes. Gafni asked to split the bill into two so that the consensus part of the bill can be passed soon and the rest of the bill can be passed later on.
  • The Knesset discussed one motion at the end of the session. The motion on the Economic benefits to the Palestinians while the Palestinian Authority boycotts products from Israel was discussed by MK Eldad and MK Danon. The motion, designed to put pressure on the government, passed 9-0.

Amendment on the Proposed Traffic Ordinance

MK Amar (Y.B.) explained that his amendment would create a different alcohol concentration test for some drunk drivers. The three groups that will be included are drivers under 24 year old, public transportation drivers and truck drivers. These groups would be held to a higher standard than regular drivers.

The bill passed its first reading 11-0 and was sent to the Finance Committee.

Amendment on the Permanent Service in the Army – the Israel Defense Forces Bill

MK Regev (Likud) explained that her amendment would allow career soldier women to keep their jobs during pregnancy and be allowed to return to their jobs after their maternity leave. Regev said the current situation where the soldier is forced to choose between motherhood and her job is unacceptable.

The bill passed its first reading 13-0 and was sent to the Labor Committee.

Committee proposed to take away MK Haneen Zoabi’s rights until the end of the Knesset term

House Committee Chairman Levin (Likud) and 26 other MKs spoke on the subject. Due to time constraints I will not cover what each of the 27 MKs said on the subject. That said, if I have enough readers request that I do I will change my mind.

Speaker Rivlin announced he would not vote. Zoabi’s rights to leave the country during wartime, her diplomatic passport and legal expenses were all revoked by identical 34-16 votes. For those who are wondering, the 11 MKs from the Arab parties, Labor MK Magadla, the three Meretz MKs and Kadima MK Mula were the 16 votes against. The Arab MKs and MK Oron (Meretz) caused a big commotion. Speaker Rivlin threw them out, and security took their time removing them forcefully. It should be noted 70 MKs were not present and did not vote.

Amendment on the Second Authority for Television and Radio Bill

Communications Minister Kachalon (Likud) explained that his amendment would make it easier to obtain a TV broadcast franchise license.

MK Chanin (Chadash) warned that this would privatize television even further and allow a company to own part of a TV channel for a 15 year term, as opposed to today’s 10 year term. Chanin called it a problematic bill.

MK Cabel (Labor) said that he usually agrees with MK Chanin, but in this case he disagrees. Cabel said that the consensus is that Communications Minister Kachalon knows what he is doing. Cabel said that the TV market in Israel is dying and this will give it a shot in the arm. He reminded that regulation will keep the investors in check.

MK Ze’ev (Shas) talked about a bunny cooking show and a kids show with a ten year old wearing a shirt that said “sex call me”. He talked about the reality shows that promote premarital sex and drugs. Ze’ev said that we need Jewish values in our TV and to stop showing such filth.

The bill passed its first reading 17-2 and was sent to the Finance Committee.

Amendment on the Labor, Social Welfare and Health Bill

MK Gilon (Meretz) explained that his amendment would assist in solving legislative conflicts between the Equal Rights for People with Disabilities Bill and the Labor, Social Welfare and Health Bill.

The bill passed its first reading 16-0 and was sent to the Labor Committee.

Monday’s session of over six and a half hours ended after 10:30 PM. In a marathon bill day of 22 bills, 21 of them were passed. The story on this day is about the one that didn’t pass, the Criminal Procedure Bill. This is the first time the government has struck out on a bill during the summer session and embarrasses the coalition of 74 MKs, of whom only two showed up to vote, to Justice Minister Neaman’s dismay. Seven bills were passed in their third readings and the other 14 bills all passed in their first readings. The opposition began the afternoon with their failed attempts to topple the government.

Short Summary on Non-Bills

  • The Knesset defeated Kadima’s no-confidence motion titled “Netanyahu once again chooses to cut back and strike the weaker sectors to finance the government’s pompous extravagance” by a vote of 36-62 (22 MKs not present).
  • The Knesset defeated the Arab parties’ no-confidence motion titled “Continuation of the demolition policy and disregard of government proposals to freeze the demolition” by a vote of 10-65 with 15 abstaining (30 MKs not present).
  • Speaker Rivlin gave a speech in memory of former minister Yehuda Amital. Prime Minister Netanyahu and other MKs spoke as well.
  • Agriculture Minister Simhon and Deputy Defense Minister Vilnai answered queries during the session.
  • There were no motions other than the no-confidence motions.

Amendment on the State Education Bill

MK Miller (Y.B.) explained his amendment would change the appointment of education ministry council members from political appointments to professional appointments.

The bill passed 13-0 in its second reading and 9-0 in its third reading.

Deputy Speaker Walhaba (Kadima) initially forgot to conduct the vote on the third reading and incorrectly named the bill a law. MK Miller quickly pointed out the mistake and the vote on the third reading was conducted.

Implementing the agreement between Israel and the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Bill

Constitution, Law and Justice Committee Chairman MK Rotem (Y.B.) explained that this bill will officially finalize the agreement reached with the OECD.

The bill passed 13-0 in its second reading and 12-0 in its third reading.

Deputy Speaker Walhaba (Kadima) once again forgot to conduct the vote on the third reading and incorrectly named the bill a law. MK Rotem quickly pointed out the mistake and the vote on the third reading was conducted.

Amendment on the Negev Development Authority Bill

MK Yisrael Hasson (Kadima) explained his amendment would promote agricultural tourist attractions in the Negev and would recognize smaller towns that do not have the minimum population to qualify as an official town.

MK Eldad (N.U.) had five official objections to the amendment focusing on the fact that this bill would give the Bedouin tribes control of Israeli lands. After the Finance Committee agreed to his changes, Eldad withdrew his objections and called on the Knesset to vote in favor.

MK Levin (Likud) expressed that he felt that this bill will save the Negev from the Bedouin tribes who are land grabbing. MK Zachalka and MK Asana heckled his speech. He called the illegal building a tool of the Bedouins who do not recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

MK Swed (Chadash) said that many MKs were going to support the bill originally until MK Eldad and Levin intervened. He explained that if Jewish farms that were built illegally are now being legalized, it is a problem that the illegal Bedouin buildings will not be included as well. Swed accused the Jewish farmers of land grabbing.

MK Chanin (Chadash) called the bill an attempt to declare war on the Bedouins. He called the idea of a Jewish farmer land grab a disaster for the environment and a waste of land resources. MK Hasson interrupted and asked what his words had to do with the bill.

MK Mula (Kadima) said that the law is not anti-Bedouin. He added that the Bedouins’ side of the law will be brought up separately at a later date. He suggested that the MKs support this bill and keep in mind that there will be another one soon. He claimed that in the committee they worked very hard to make sure there would not be one word discriminating against Bedouins. He called the unrecognized Bedouin towns a big stain on the Israeli government.

MK Zachalka (Balad) called the Jewish farmers settlers who are land grabbing Bedouin land. He branded the law undemocratic and racist. Zachalka said that the Jews have no right to live in land that was once under Arab control.

MK Asana (Ra’am-Ta’al) called it a bill that will help 51 Jews and hurt 100,000 Arabs. He said that the 51 farmers will now control 81,000 dunam. He asked how there could be a land grab if Arab immigration is illegal. He called the Bedouins victims of Zionism, an anti-democratic and racist thing. He got into a screaming match with MKs Levin and Finian. Deputy Speaker Walhaba regained order.

The bill passed its second reading 25-5 and its articles by the votes of 26-6, 27-6, 26-6 and 27-6. The Knesset defeated the objections by the three Arab parties 6-27, 6-25, 6-26 and 2-25. The bill passed its third reading 27-6.

Amendment of the Income Tax Ordinance

Funds Committee Chairman Gafni (U.T.J.) explained the amendment would give an income tax discount to university students who have jobs.

The bill passed its second reading 18-0 and passed its third reading 14-0.

Amendment on the Civil Veterans Bill

Interior and Environment Committee Chairman Azulai (Shas) explained his bill would create a new position in every city or local authority called “Senior Citizens Adviser”.

The bill passed its second reading 15-0 and passed its third reading 14-0.

Amendment on the Fuel Economy Bill

Finance Committee Chairman Okunis (Likud) explained the amendment would promote competition in the fuel market. He added that this bill took 12 years to bring to a second reading and if passed will make it much easier for new gas companies to enter the market. Okunis said that rich private interests threatened him and tried to apply pressure to kill the bill. Okunis said he was pleased that he did not give in to the temptations and stood by this very important law.

The bill passed its second reading 14-0 and passed its third reading 9-0.

MK Charmesh (Kadima) thanked Chairman Okunis for advancing the bill and for standing up against the pressure until the last minute to get the bill passed.

Amendment on the Witness Protection Bill

Interior and Environment Committee Chairman Azulai explained that the amendment would force every Knesset committee meeting that involves a person who is under witness protection to be a closed door meeting with no more than five MKs present and the meeting will not have a protocol.

MK Finian (Likud) asked for a vote by a show of hands instead of an electronic vote, Deputy Speaker Walhaba agreed. MK Ze’ev (Shas) pointed out that would mean the Knesset protocol wouldn’t know who voted what and Walhaba agreed to change it back to an electronic vote. The bill passed its second reading 12-0 and passed its third reading 12-0.

Temporary Provision on the Security Service Bill

Deputy Defense Minister Vilnai (Labor) explained that his amendment would extend the temporary provision of men serving three years in the IDF instead of two and a half years as required by law. This extension will be in effect until December 2011.

The bill passed its first reading 7-0 and was sent to the Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee.

Amendment on the Israel Defense Forces Bill

Deputy Defense Minister Vilnai explained his amendment would allow career soldiers to have more choices in how they plan their pensions.

The bill passed its first reading 8-0 and was sent to the Labor Committee.

Grazing Bill

MK Ariel (N.U.) explained that his original bill would take the whole shepherding business and put it under government supervision and regulation. Ariel said that his bill will be merged with the government bill after him.

The bill passed its first reading 9-0 and was sent to the Finance Committee.

Regulation of Public Grazing Lands Bill

Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Simhon (Labor) explained that his amendment, which was inspired by MK Ariel’s bill, will finally have some legislation on the grazing industry. Simhon called the bill an environmental bill that will prohibit sheep from land grabbing national park land. The bill requires every shepherd to get a license from the agriculture ministry.

The bill passed its first reading 9-0 and was sent to the Finance Committee.

Amendment on the Courts Bill

Justice Minister Neaman explained that the amendment would allow a suspect to request a gag order so that the press does not publicize his name and hurt his reputation. He was saddened that the press convicts people before the court rules.

MK Chanin expressed his support for the intention of the bill. Chanin said that in the committee he will ask that the bill go further to protect defendants.

The bill passed its first reading 9-0 and was sent to the Justice Committee.

Amendment on the Criminal Procedure Bill

Justice Minister Neaman explained that the amendment would reduce the number of times a defendant sees a judge while he is in detention. The amendment would extend the amount of time a judge does not need to see a defendant in detention from 90 days to 150 days. The amendment would also forbid a person from requesting a second appeal to his sentencing. He explained that this bill would eliminate 40% of a judge’s time that is wasted on just going through the motions. Neaman hoped this would speed up the legal process in Israel.

MK Chanin expressed opposition to the bill and called it undemocratic.

The government bill was defeated 2-4. This was the first government bill to be defeated in the 32 days of the summer session. Minister Neaman was furious asking how the MKs could oppose a Supreme Court committee. Deputy Speaker Walhaba told the minister that it was his own fault for not making sure he had enough votes before he asked to vote on the bill.

Amendment on the Legal Assistance Between Countries Bill

Justice Minister Neaman explained that the amendment would give Israel exemption from liability in certain cases without going against international law.

The bill passed its first reading 11-0 and was sent to the Justice Committee.

Amendment on the Criminal Procedure Bill

Justice Minister Neaman explained that the temporary provision will allow certain defendants to meet with their lawyer through video conferencing.

The bill passed its first reading 8-1 and was sent to the Justice Committee.

Observation of Toddlers Daycare Bill

Minister Simhon explained that this original bill will require every toddler daycare to be under the observation of the industry and trade ministry.

The bill passed its first reading 10-0 and was sent to the House Committee to decide which committee would advance the bill.

Amendment on the Traffic Law Bill

Minister Simhon explained that the amendment would change the Traffic Ordinance provisions so that they apply to city trains. Simhon explained that this bill will help the Jerusalem light rail.

The bill passed its first reading 9-0 and was sent to the Finance Committee.

Amendments to the Knesset Rules Bill

House Committee Chairman Levin explained this will be his sixth amendment to the Knesset rules. This time it will force the opposition leader to be present at a prime minister 40 MK discussion.

The bill passed its first reading 6-0 and was sent to the House Committee.

Amendment on the Contracts Bill

House Committee Chairman Levin explained that his amendment would create absolute decisions with the general interpretation of a contract and take it out of the discretion of the courts.

The bill passed its first reading 8-0 and was sent to the Justice Committee.

Amendment on the Knesset Bill

House Committee Chairman Levin explained that his amendment would allow the confidential sub-committee protocols to be published at a later date when there is no longer reason for that meeting to be kept confidential. He hoped this would allow the public to judge their politicians even if it is ten years afterwards.

The bill passed its first reading 8-1 and was sent to the House Committee.

Amendment on the Lawyers Bar Bill

MK Shama (Likud) explained that his amendment would change the bureau institution elections protocol so that the Negev and Galil do not get more representation than the Tel Aviv district. The bill will give the Tel Aviv district the same number of seats to which their lawyer population entitles them.

The bill passed its first reading 5-2 and was sent to the Justice Committee.

Amendment on the Equal Rights for People with Disabilities Bill

MK Gilon (Meretz) explained that his amendment removes the obligation of a deadline to obtain access for disability perks in the law.

The bill passed its first reading 8-0 and was sent to the Labor Committee.

Amendment on the Disengagement Plan Implementation Bill

MK Eldad (N.U.) explained his amendment had 37 co-sponsors and will give businesses and workers evicted during the disengagement additional compensation.

The bill passed its first reading 10-0 and was sent to the Funds Committee.

Wednesday’s session of less than seven hours was jam packed with 14 bills discussed. Amir Peretz’s “baby”, the Minimum Wage Bill, was rejected. MK Tivayev’s Official Language of the State of Israel Bill that would declare Hebrew as the official language met government opposition. Towards the end of the session Deputy Speaker Tibi had a personality complex during one of the motions. The Knesset passed only five of the 14 bills, defeating six of them, while three were turned into motions in order to not have them defeated.

Short Summary on Non-Bills

  • The session opened with urgent queries for the Interior and Education Ministers, as well as the Deputy Finance and Industry and Trade Ministers.
  • Justice Minister Neaman and Culture Minister Livnat (Likud) answered queries in the middle of the session.
  • The Knesset discussed10 motions, passing five of them, one of which was split into two motions. The motions were passed 12-0 and 13-0 (split), 7-1, 5-0, 4-1 and 4-0. The Knesset defeated one of the motions 1-4. and the other four were not brought up for a vote.
  • Speaker Rivlin gave a warm address to the President of El-Salvador.

Two Amendments on the National Insurance Bill

MK Chaim Katz (Likud) explained that his amendment would have the state cover 70% of insurance and social security dues widows and widowers.

Welfare Minister Hertzog (Labor) praised the bill and expressed the government support.

MK Azulai (Shas), who sponsored a virtually identical bill, thanked the minister for supporting his amendment along with MK Katz’s amendment.

The bills by Katz and Azulai were both passed in their preliminary readings by votes of 25-0 and 26-0, respectively, and were sent to the Labor Welfare and Health Committee.

Amendment on the Penal Code Bill

MK Levi-Abukasis (Y.B.) explained her amendment would raise the age under which a child in jail would need an observer to children aged 16 and under, from the current law of 14 and under. She expressed hope that in the future she would pass a law to raise the observer status to apply to all minors under 18.

Justice Minister Neaman expressed government support for raising the age to 16 but warned that the government would oppose a bill that would raise the age to 18.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 45-0 and was sent to the Law Committee.

Two Amendments on the Minimum Wage Bill

MK Peretz (Labor) called his bill one of the most important bills of all time. He explained that his amendment would act as a temporary provision that would gradually raise the minimum wage to 4,600 shekel. He attacked the treasury for not supporting a bill that can make a big difference for poor people. He called Shtinetz a coward for giving in to the rich. Peretz said he’d rather be a populist than a slave of rich interest groups. He asked why Barak felt the Labor party had to be a part of a Netanyahu government. He called on Labor Ministers Braverman and Hertzog to not be afraid and to vote for the bill. He told them that if Bibi fires them for standing up for the poor they should send him a bouquet of flowers for helping them become the front runners to replace Barak as Labor’s head. Peretz called on the MKs to vote for their ideology and not to be afraid of losing their precious coalition jobs.

MK Shitrit (Kadima) explained that his similar amendment would raise the minimum wage level to higher number than MK Peretz’s proposal. He said the problem of negative income tax destroys families and cited a study which proved his point. Shitrit charged that full time salaried workers who earn the minimum wage live under the poverty line. He warned that when people make more money living off of welfare services than working the consequence is an impending financial disaster. MK Vaknin (Shas) got into a screaming match with Shitrit that lasted a few minutes. Shitrit attacked Vaknin and Shas for saying they represent the poor while they vote against raising the minimum wage. He asked how Israel could join the OECD when people who have full-time jobs are poor and people who live off welfare are rich. He explained his amendment would raise the minimum wage to 50% of the average Israeli salary, and he explained that he passed a similar bill when he was Finance Minister. His amendment would also call to hire inspectors to ensure that employers complied with the mandatory minimum wage and did not try to cheat employees by paying them less.

Finance Minister Shtinetz charged that Peretz and Shitrit did not propose to raise the minimum wage when they were ministers and the world economy was flourishing. He charged them both of being opportunists who find it very easy to ask the government to raise the minimum wage when they are in the opposition and the world is in the middle of a financial crisis. Shtinetz said that if either of them were finance minister they would vote against the measure. He warned that if the bill was passed companies would close down and unemployment would rise. He explained that in the middle of a financial crisis the businesses can’t survive a bill that would raise the minimum wage. He quoted Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fisher who said that raising the minimum wage would raise unemployment significantly. He quoted the OECD report on Israel that stated the minimum wage in Israel is overwhelmingly high. The finance minister applauded Peretz for using this bill as a way to improve his relations with the press and for going through the motions of having his bill defeated. He warned that voting for this bill is a vote for unemployment and budget cuts in education and welfare. Shtinetz defended the concept of negative income tax that former Finance Minister Silvan Shalom (Likud) created. He called the bills irresponsible and expressed the government’s opposition to the bills, calling on the coalition MKs to oppose it. He warned that this bill would raise the unemployment to 10% like the United States.

MK Peretz rebutted that Shtinetz is no expert of finance. He called for a vote by secret ballot and promised that if he lost he would not bring up the bill for a vote for two years.

MK Shitrit rebutted by reading out Shtinetz’s record of voting for raising the minimum wage in the past. He blasted Minister Hertzog and told him that he should be ashamed of himself for saying he is defending the weak and poor. The two got into a screaming match for a minute or so and then Shtinetz joined. Shitrit charged that a business or factory that can’t pay their workers a higher minimum wage should not be open for business.

The bills were defeated 39-59 and 34-57 respectively. Chaim Katz of the Likud voted for both of the bills, against the government decision.

Two Amendments on the Environmental Protection Bill

MK Horovitz (Meretz) explained that his amendment would allow the intelligent use of natural resources, specifically by reusing water through a Greywater system.

MK Chanin (Chadash), who sponsored an almost identical bill, said he was happy to see the government support a bill that will help Israel save water.

Environmental Minister Erdan (Likud) expressed government support for the brilliant bill that matches his ministry’s policy and called on everyone to vote in favor.

The bills by Horovitz and Chanin passed their preliminary readings 23-0 and 24-0 respectively and were both sent to the Interior and Environment Committee.

Amendment on the Rabbinical Courts Bill

MK Mula (Kadima) explained that his amendment would prohibit the rabbinical courts from cancelling a citizen’s conversion to Judaism. He stressed that these matters are particularly important in issues of marriage and divorce and the current situation causes many problems. He asked how someone could live as a Jew and then have their conversion overturned at a later date. He got into a screaming match with MK Rotem (Y.B.) when he charged that Rotem’s party was giving in to the chareidim.

Justice Minister Neaman said that the matter is complicated and delicate. He explained that the government asked to have a three month period to go over the law and figure out a way to either support it or submit a bill of their own. Mula refused to play ball and for that reason the government was asking the coalition to oppose the bill.

MK Zoaretz (Kadima) asked that the coalition reconsider and vote for the bill.

The bill was defeated 21-34.

Amendment on the Proposed Traffic Ordinance

MK Shitrit explained that his amendment would require that stability systems be installed on all vehicles that weigh over four tons. He explained that the bill would reduce traffic accidents by keeping drivers alert and awake and would take control of a vehicle when its driver lost control. Shitrit read out a letter written to the minister by the citizen who came up with the idea for the bill. He asked the government to support the bill and pledged to work alongside the minister to advance the bill or to drop it if so requested.

Transportation Minister Katz (Likud) explained that a similar law that demands the installation of such devices by January 1st 2012 was already passed. Katz explained that there was no reason to pass a law to enforce the issue earlier and expressed the government’s opposition to the bill.

MK Shitrit claimed he was talking about a more advanced type of device and said that waiting another year and a half to enforce the previous device will cost pointless deaths. He quoted: One who saves the life of one, it is like he saved the whole world.

The bill was defeated 20-42.

Amendment on the Land Leasing Bill

MK Mula explained his amendment would be a temporary provision that would extend the lease period of certain Israeli lands and delay their transfer to foreign western development interests. Mula said he rejected the idea of luxury housing for rich people.

Minister Neaman said that this bill would hurt the current reform of the Israeli Land Authority and therefore the government was opposing it.

The bill was defeated 14-36.

Amendment on the Broadcasting Authority Bill

MK Shai (Kadima) explained that his amendment would change the structure of public broadcasting. The Kadima MKs objected to Edelstein being the minister who would respond in the name of the government, and Deputy Speaker Magadla called a few of the MKs to order.

Hasbara and Diaspora Minister Edelstein (Likud) warned that those who are in favor of public broadcasting should oppose this bill and wait for a reform. He expressed the government’s opposition to the bill.

MK Shai said that he believes that the government will adopt this bill and that Edelstein will vote in favor of it in six months after opposing it today. He criticized the government’s decision of budgeting for entertainment such as the Eurovision and not for journalism and more political shows. He called on the coalition MKs who co-sponsored the bill with him to vote in favor of their proposal.

The bill was defeated 24-42.

Motion/Amendment on the Retirement Age Bill

MK Solodkin (Kadima) explained that her amendment would lower the retirement age for employees of physically grinding jobs that harm their health. She explained that the current retirement age is standard and certain jobs should enjoy an earlier retirement age. Solodkin proposed that the retirement age for these jobs would be lowered to 60 years old. She thanked MK Tibayev for co-sponsoring the bill with her. She blasted Workers Union head Ofer Ianie for objecting to the bill instead of supporting workers’ rights.

Deputy Finance Minister Cohen (Shas) explained the government was opposed to the bill because of the difficulty in defining what is grinding work. He explained that too many jobs might be included and there would not be enough in the budget to pay the retirement benefits, which could lead to an economic collapse. He suggested changing the bill into a motion that could be discussed in a committee.

MK Solodkin agreed.

The motion passed 23-0 and was sent to the Funds Committee.

The Official Language of the State of Israel Bill/Motion

MK Robert Tivayev (Kadima) explained his amendment would name Hebrew as the official language of the State of Israel. He said he was surprised that such a law had never been passed. Tivayev told a story about how he was introduced to Hebrew in the U.S.S.R. by a Rabbi in synagogue who explained that Hebrew was the language of the Jewish people. He called on the Knesset to make this historic declaration. Tivayev noted that Israel is one of the few countries that don’t have an official language. Tivayev asked how a right-wing government could vote against such an important bill.

Religion Minister Margi (Shas) said that the government objected to declaring Hebrew as the official language. Margi said the government also objected to the secondary languages of Arabic, English and Russian mentioned in the bill. Margi said that it was a problematic bill and suggested turning the bill into a motion to have a compelling discussion in a committee.

MK Tivayev agreed.

The motion passed 26-0 and was sent to the Justice Committee.

Motion/Amendment on the Sick Days Payment Bill

MK Agbariah (Chadash) explained his amendment would allow absence from work due to an immediate relative’s disease. He criticized the current law that states that one must use vacation days to be with a dying family member and cannot even use one’s own sick days for this purpose.

Deputy Speaker Magadla mistakenly called up Deputy Minister Noked as the Deputy Infrastructure Minister, and Infrastructure Minister Landau (Y.B.) said he would be happy to have Noked work as a deputy for him as well.

Industry and Trade Deputy Minister Noked (Labor) explained that to allow someone to exercise eight days’ worth of sick days on a relative’s sickness is too much. Noked explained that multiple people could invoke this clause for the same sick person which would cause an unfair strain on the economy. She suggested turning the bill into a motion and having a discussion in a committee.

The motion passed 6-0, or 9-0 if you count the MKs who didn’t vote but who Deputy Speaker Magadla added. The motion was sent to the Health Committee.

MK Ahmed Tibi’s Multiple Personalities

Deputy Speaker Tibi announced that the next speaker would be MK Tibi. Because no other Deputy Speaker was in the building MK Tibi asked Deputy Speaker Tibi if he could have special permission to give his speech from the Speaker’s chair. Deputy Speaker Tibi announced that he authorized MK Tibi’s request and asked that the Knesset pretend that MK Tibi’s request did not come from the Speaker’s chair. Justice Minister Neaman asked Deputy Speaker Tibi if this would cause a conflict of interest. Deputy Speaker Tibi agreed it would, he said he had considered delaying the motion until another deputy speaker arrived, but because it was a special day, the world cup semifinal, he decided against it. MK Shai asked Deputy Speaker Tibi what would happen if MK Tibi caused a disruption. Deputy Speaker Tibi responded that if MK Tibi caused a disturbance that he would call MK Tibi to order and remove him from the plenum. MK Tibi started his speech by thanking the Deputy Speaker. At the end of his speech Deputy Speaker Tibi thanked MK Tibi for not going over his time limit.

Tuesday’s session was less than four hours. The Knesset celebration of Jabotinsky Day was attended by a handful of MKs. The five bills discussed were all passed, including the Knesset Museum Bill in its third reading. Yet another Orlev political appointment bill was passed among the four bills that passed their first reading. This new position will be called Government Academic Adviser. The other bills passing their first reading included ballot committee members being allowed to vote in their own ballot booths, a bill that would force banks to print checks to the beneficiary only, and a bill that would prohibit discrimination of party goers in clubs and bars.

Short Summary on Non-Bills

  • 16 MKs participated in the one-minute speeches segment of the day.
  • Religion Minister Margi (Shas) had a question hour and answered queries from several MKs.
  • There was a special meeting to mark Ze’ev Jabotinsky Day. Following Speaker Rivlin and Culture Minister Livnat’s speeches, only four MKs spoke on the subject – MKs Livni, Danon, Shitrit and Orlev.
  • The Knesset approved the House Committee decisions on the destination of bills over which there had been a debate about the appropriate committees for discussion by a vote of 9-0.
  • The Knesset approved the House Committee’s decisions on the continuity clause of certain bills from the previous Knesset by a vote of 11-0.
  • The only motion of the day was on the topic of the Preservation of Heritage Sites. 4 MKs spoke and no vote took place.

Knesset Museum Bill

Education Committee Chairman MK Orlev (J.H.) explained that his bill would turn the Froimen House, the previous home of the Knesset, into a museum.

The bill passed its second reading 17-0 and passed its third reading 20-0.

Amendment on the Israel Academy of Sciences Bill

MK Orlev explained his bill would create a new government position of an academic adviser for the government. He felt that this would help the government feel more connected to what is going on in the academic world of science, development and other important issues, both nationally and internationally.

The bill was passed in its first reading 8-0 and sent to the Education, Science and Technology Committee.

Amendment on the General Election Bill

House Committee Chairman MK Levin (Likud) explained the bill that he co-sponsored with MK Itzick (Kadima) would allow ballot committee members on Election Day to vote in the voting center in which they are working. Levin explained this will enable people to vote who were previously unable to because they were working far away from their hometown district. He expressed the problem they are trying to solve is to ensure there is no double voting as a result of the amendment.

The bill was passed in its first reading 8-0 and sent to the House Committee.

Amendment on the Ordinance Bill

MK Kirschenbaum (Y.B.) explained that her amendment would force banks to print checkbooks with the ‘to the beneficiary only’ stripes, unless otherwise requested.

MK Levin asked how this bill was not thought of before. He expressed pleasure that this would help stop the poor from being tricked by the rich and help small businesses as well.

MK Ze’ev (Shas) said this will hurt the black market. He added that this would put an end to the check ‘hot-potato’ game. He expressed his worry it might cause complications for chareidi small-business owners.

MK Rotem (Y.B.) said that he was not going to support the bill until he heard MK Ze’ev’s speech. Rotem realized this bill will prevent tax fraud by ending the check hot-potato game.

The bill passed its first reading 11-0 and was sent to the Finance Committee.

Amendment on the Prohibition of Discrimination in Products, Services and Entry to Places of Public Entertainment Bill

MK Yachomovitz (Labor) explained her bill would forbid bars, clubs and restaurants from not allowing certain people into their establishment based on the presumption of discrimination. She cited many MKs and Knesset workers who encountered the terrible discrimination.

MK Ze’ev said he was for the law but against the concept of drunken youngsters.

MK Mula (Kadima) said that this bill will help the Ethiopian public a bit, but that the public is still very racist.

The bill passed its first reading 9-0 and was sent to the Finance Committee.

Monday’s session was a little over two hours. The session was short due to the opposition’s tradition of not submitting motions of no-confidence as a measure of goodwill when the Prime Minister is abroad. The session also had no motions because of the Kadima MKs who chose instead to join the Gilad Shalit march in Tel-Aviv. The Knesset passed three bills, two in their third reading and one in its first. The Sexual Harassment Bill will change the way men act from now on.

Short Summary on Non-Bills

  • Deputy Finance Minister Litzman requested to enact a continuity clause on a bill that will be voted on in two weeks.
  • The Knesset passed a House Committee request to split a bill into two by a vote of 9-0.
  • Homeland Security Minister Aharonovitz (Y.B.) had a question hour that was cut short by lack of interest.
  • Environmental Minister Erdan (Likud) answered queries at the end of the session.

Amendment on the Preventing Sexual Harassment Bill

Women’s Rights Chairwoman MK Hotoveli (Likud) explained this was a revolutionary law. The current law states that a woman girl who is harassed must prove that she was harassed. The amendment will change the law so that the one who is charged as the harasser will be guilty, until proven innocent. The amendment will include rabbis and other spiritual leaders as public figures who can be prosecuted in this manner.

MK Orlev (J.H.) explained that his bill would lift the immunity of many public figures so that they can be prosecuted. He hinted that this bill was influenced by the police failure to convict Rabbi Mordechai Elon. He was saddened that the maximum punishment for this law is three years. Orlev explained this situation gave him motivation for the bill.

MK Shneller (Kadima) said that no one should be immune from being charged with sexual harassment, religious or otherwise. He said that he was pleased that his practically identical bill could be merged with Orlev’s.

The bill was passed in its second reading 11-0 and in its third reading 12-0.

Amendment on the Health Insurance Bill

MK Adato (Kadima) explained her amendment would allow kupat cholim patients to pay for the exact number of pills they receive in their prescription without having to pay for the whole package.

The bill was passed in its second reading 9-0 and in its third reading 9-0.

Amendment on the Lending Books Bill

Education Minister Saar (Likud) explained that his amendment would allow children to keep the books they receive from the school, in order to hand them down to their younger siblings when the time comes. He said that 1,100 schools are already part of the program and his amendment would make the measure available in all public schools. Saar said this went well with another recent bill which stated that the schools can only change textbooks once every five years. The minister hoped this would help families with many kids save money.

MK Michaeli (Y.B.) said that another bill which would create computer textbooks in place of the paper ones is on the way. Michaeli stated that every house has a computer.

MK Ganem (Ra’am-Ta’al) said this bill will strengthen the connection between the school system and the families of the students.

MK Ze’ev (Shas) said this bill will save paper. He went on to talk about Nir Barkat’s strategy concerning the planned King Park in Jerusalem.

MK Tibi (Ra’am-Ta’al) said that students are scarred for life if they don’t have money to pay for their books, and this law might make the difference in their lives.

MK Ben-Ari (N.U.) expressed that, as a teacher of 21 years and a father of seven, he will vote for the bill. Ben-Ari slammed the schoolbooks today that are more expensive and an environmental waste and that hurt the kids’ health by forcing them to carry the thick books on their backs. He argued that these new books have little purpose and are merely empty fill-in-the-blank books.

MK Orlev (J.H.), the Education Committee chairman, expressed his support for the bill and called on everyone to vote for it.

The bill passed in its first reading 14-0 and was sent to the Education Committee.

Last Wednesday was a seven and a half hour session. The Knesset voted against the government ethics bill and approved the Baka-Get split ‘superbill’ in its preliminary reading. Besides the superbill incorporating eight separate bills that were merged into one, there were six other bills. Two bills were passed in their preliminary reading, two bills were defeated, one was passed as a motion and one was withdrawn at the last second.

Short Summary on Non-Bills

  • The Justice, Environment and Interior Ministers, along with the Defense and Foreign Deputy Ministers answered urgent queries at the start of the session.
  • The Knesset discussed nine motions, passing five of them by the votes of 7-0, 12-1, 8-0, 7-0 and 7-0. The other four motions were not brought up for a vote.
  • Minorities Minister Avishai Braverman (Labor) answered queries at the end of the session.

Amendment to the Foundations of the Budget Bill

MK Vaknin (Shas) explained his amendment would lower taxes on land that borders Lebanon or the Gaza strip.

Vaknin agreed to wait a week for the government to give their approval.

Eight Amendments on the Local Authorities Bill

MK Magadla (Labor) explained that the amendment would terminate the union of local councils Baka al Gharbiya and G’et. Magadla said that there are seven other amendments on the same exact issue that have been joined into one discussion. He assured the MKs that this is the will of the great majority of both towns. MK Oron (Meretz) attacked Magadla for telling too many jokes during his speech and Magadla teased Oron for being an irrelevant opposition MK. Magadla thanked the Labor ministers who forced the government to support the bill.

MK Walhaba (Kadima) said the concept of a union of local councils is a bad idea and in this case it was a disaster.

MK Shneller (Kadima) said that he voted for the union and is generally for the unification of councils. He said he changed his mind when he saw that this particular union caused many problems for the citizens of both cities.

MK Swed (Chadash) asked why most of the unions of city councils are in the Arab areas. He criticized the unification of councils where the majority of the citizens are against the union.

MK Yoel Hasson (Kadima) chose to use his time to express his support for full army ceremonial funerals, even in cases of renegade soldiers.

MK Zachalka (Balad) said that both the coalition and opposition support the bill. Speaker Rivlin interrupted and said that it is not acceptable for certain unions to stand and others to be dismantled for political reasons. Zachalka asked that the Knesset not bury the bill in the Interior Committee and to advance the bill, because teasing the residents is worse than denying them.

MK Tibi (Ra’am-Ta’al) called the union a failure and complained that it took too long for the government to support the bill. He expressed fear that the government will choose to oppose it in its first reading.

MK Asana (Ra’am-Ta’al) said it’s better late than never. He criticized the previous government for forcing a union of two councils that objected to it.

Interior Minister Yishai (Shas) said that this union was forced by a Kadima government. The minister said that the government will only support the bill in its first reading if the treasury approves the budget cost of the bill. Speaker Rivlin interrupted the minister and said that there is enough friction between Arabs and Jews already. He demanded that the government make a decision on if they are for or against now. Rivlin expressed concern that playing games will cause more friction. Yishai responded that the government wanted more time to discuss the bill in order to see if the funds that will be needed for a new council can be allotted. He added that the government was pressured to at least pass the bills in their preliminary readings and the government will figure out the logistics later. Yishai said that the government supports the bills in their preliminary readings.

MK Shitrit (Kadima) gave a half hour speech objecting to each amendment. He said that we should be saving money and unifying more city councils. Shitrit said that the current council can’t pay their city workers, so how do they expect to pay two councils’ worth of city workers. Shitrit charged that this was an attempt to give out jobs to political loyalists and that it would hurt most of the common citizens. He warned that creating new councils costs millions of shekels each year. He said Jews should unify too and asked who knows where the border between Givataim and Ramat Gan actually is. Shitrit also accused Magadla of using this bill to try to earn more votes for the Labor party. Shitrit warned that he would fail.

MK Magadla responded that the treasury has not voiced any objection to the plan. Therefore, he reasoned the Interior Minister should give the government’s approval for the bills next reading as well.

The eight amendments passed their preliminary reading in eight votes: 46-6, 49-3 with 1 abstaining, 43-3, 45-3, 41-3, 36-3, 40-3, and 35-3. MK Eldad (N.U.) turned the session into a screaming match when he exercised his right to demand that each amendment be sent to a different committee, forcing all the amendments to be sent to the House Committee for further debate. This move will allow hard-line House Committee Chairman MK Levin (Likud) to bury the amendments if he wishes.

Amendment to the Psychologists Bill

MK Matalon (Y.B.) explained that his amendment would allow those who are entitled to free psychological care from the State to be given psychotherapeutic treatment by specialist psychologists, instead of regular psychologists. This would mean that the patients would get better care and those who treat them will be veteran professionals with years of experience.

MK Adato (Kadima) said she objected to the bill. She said that psychotherapeutic treatment is not as effective as regular psychological care and therefore she objects to the bill.

Deputy Health Minister Litzman (U.T.J.) expressed government support.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 43-4 and sent to the Labor Committee.

Amendment to the Knesset Bill

MK Levin (Likud) explained his amendment would force the approval of confidential sub-committees by a majority of the plenum. He also said in certain cases confidential sub-committees would have their protocols publicized after a cooling-off period.

Deputy Finance Minister Cohen (Shas) explained that the government has no official position. However, he explained that he himself supports the bill and calls on other MKs to vote in favor of the bill.

MK Oron said this move will actually increase the number of sub-committees because the coalition has a big majority. Oron also said that sub-committees have five members and only one member is from the opposition. He expressed fear that future committees would become sub-committees.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 42-7 and was sent to the House Committee.

Amendment to the Basic Law: The Government

MK Avraham-Balila (Kadima) explained that her amendment would define general ethics for government members. She said that she knew many coalition MKs wanted to vote for it but were afraid to. She made a promise not to advance the bill if the Knesset passed it in its preliminary reading.

Justice Minister Neaman said that the government plans on advancing an ethics bill of their own, where the government will define what ethics should be included in the law. Neaman announced that the government opposes the bill. Speaker Rivlin added that the Knesset has been discussing a Knesset ethics bill for four years and suggested the Knesset pass their own ethics bill before they push a government ethics bill.

The bill was defeated 24-34.

Amendment to the Basic Law: The State Economy

MK Avraham-Balila (Kadima) explained that her amendment would eliminate the economic arrangements bill. She reminded the MKs that the bill was signed in 1985 as an emergency measure and suggested the time has come to kill it.

Deputy Finance Minister Cohen (Shas) expressed the government’s opposition to the bill.

MK Chanin (Chadash) called on coalition MKs not to listen to the government and to support the bill. He called the current bill undemocratic.

The bill was defeated 16-43.

Motion/Amendment to the VAT Bill

MK Avraham-Balila (Kadima) explained that her amendment was a temporary order that would help small and medium-sized businesses during the financial crisis for a year and a half.

Deputy Finance Minister Cohen (Shas) expressed opposition to the bill and asked the MK to turn it into a motion. MK Avraham-Balila agreed.

The motion passed its preliminary reading 12-0 and was sent to the Funds Committee.

Tuesday’s session was only an hour and a half, due to the 17 Tammuz fast day. Because there were no bills, motions or queries on the agenda, the one minute speech segment was extended by Speaker Rivlin into a two minute speech. The topic of the day was Gilad Shalit.

Short Summary on Non-Bills

  • Almost all of the 21 speakers spent their two minute speeches discussing the Gilad Shalit march and expressing their support. Just about every speaker took advantage of there being nothing else on the agenda for the day and spoke longer than their allotted two minutes.

Monday’s session lasted less than four hours. After defeating the no-confidence motions, the Knesset discussed 13 bills. Six bills were passed in their third readings, although one of them had two objections. Seven bills were passed in their first readings. The Deputy Speaker bill was one of those that passed in its third reading today and will become law. The last seven bills were supposed to be discussed on Tuesday but were moved up to Monday due to the 17 of Tammuz fast.

Short Summary on Non-Bills

  • The government defeated two no-confidence motions from Kadima and the Arab parties by the votes of 22-51 with six abstaining and 9-53 with nine abstaining, respectively.
  • House Committee Chairman MK Levin made a statement on the committee’s decisions on the committee destinations of certain bills.
  • Immigration and Absorption Minister Sofa Landvor answered queries at the end of the session.

Amendment to the Electronic Signature Bill

Science and Technology Committee Chairman MK Shitrit (Kadima) explained that the amendment would expand electronic signatures from their current usage in the private sector to cover the public sector as well. Shitrit explained that this amendment will go hand and hand with the biometric bill that was passed last year. He explained this bill would change the world as we know it and would go so far as allowing patients to receive doctor’s electronic signature in order to receive refills for their prescriptions. He cited private companies’ success stories with electronic signatures. Shitrit closed with the additional green factor that this would save countless trees.

Justice Minister Neaman expressed government opposition to parts of the bill. He explained that the person would be forced to identify themselves in order to receive benefits and it would cause harm for people who were not part of the bio metric system. Neaman said the government will support the amendment and will object to two of the paragraphs.

The Knesset passed most of the paragraphs in the second reading of the amendment by the votes of 52-0, 53-0, 53-0 and 53-0. The Knesset objected to two paragraphs in the second reading by defeating them15- 37 and 13-39. The amendment excluding the two paragraphs that were defeated was passed in the third reading 52-0.

Amendment to the State Economic Arrangements Bill

Labor, Welfare and Health Committee Chairman MK Chaim Katz (Likud) explained that his joint amendment would assist the government in achieving budget targets and will also give a city tax discount to mentally disabled people that live in community apartments.

The amendment passed its second reading 25-0 and passed its third reading 26-0.

Amendment to the Trademarks Ordinance Bill

Constitution, Law and Justice Committee Chairman Rotem (Y.B.) explained that the amendment would resolve issues in trademark court cases in terms of trademarks standings in the law and when the court will have authority.

The amendment passed its second reading 22-0 and passed its third reading 26-0 with 1 MK abstaining.

Amendment to the Knesset Bill

House Committee Chairman Levin (Likud) explained his amendment would increase the number of deputy speakers to nine. The current law is seven, with the option to raise the number to nine as a temporary decision. The amendment would secure all nine current deputy speakers in their positions until they resign or new elections are called.

The amendment passed its second reading 21-0 and passed its third reading 20-0.

Amendment to the Equal Opportunities Bill

MK Chaim Katz explained that the amendment would expand the law to prohibit employers from asking certain questions to job candidates during interviews.

The amendment passed its second reading 19-0 and passed its third reading 19-0.

MK Solodkin (Kadima) thanked her co-sponsor MK Yachomovitz (Labor) and MK Katz, who helped advance the bill.

Amendment of Public Health Bill

MK Chaim Katz explained that the amendment would require the inclusion of nutritional values such as calories, carbs and grams of sugar on packaged food labels.

The amendment passed its second reading 17-0 and passed its third reading 16-0.

MK Ketzeleh (N.U.) thanked the Knesset for passing his first bill. He also thanked his wife for taking good care of him.

MK Orbach (J.H.) called the bill a small step for industry and a big step for health.

Amendment to the State Education Bill

Justice Minister Neaman explained the amendment would help integrate Jews and minorities in state education. He also explained the amendment would defeat certain sections of the existing law for that purpose.

MK Pelsner (Kadima) demanded that the religious state schools also join the program. He accused the minister of creating 14 jobs in positions that will do nothing.

The amendment passed its first reading 20-8 and was sent to the Education Committee.

Amendment to the Social Workers Bill

Minister Neaman explained that the amendment would change the terminology of certain social work jobs to a more respectable title.

The amendment passed its first reading 10-0 and was sent to the Labor Committee.

Amendment to the Prisoner Rehabilitation Authority Bill

Minister Neaman explained that the amendment will apply to the civil service law in regard to discipline. It would expand the number of employees that serve in the prisoner rehabilitation authority.

The amendment passed its first reading 10-0 and was sent to the Interior Committee.

Amendment to the Social Security Bill

Minister Neaman explained that the amendment would expand the government child allowance to include children up to age 24 who still live with their parents, provided they served in the army.

The amendment passed its first reading 13-0 and was sent to the Labor Committee.

Amendment to the Patent Bill

Minister Neaman explained that the amendment would eliminate the need for the publication of patents in the official gazette “Reshumot”. He explained that instead it would be updated online and anyone with access to a computer will be able to view the list as it is updated.

The amendment passed its first reading 9-0 and was sent to the Justice Committee.

Implementing the Agreement Between Israel and the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development Bill

Minister Neaman explained the amendment would focus on granting privileges and immunity to ease the agreement between the organizations. He explained this will assist the OECD in particular.

The bill passed its first reading 11-0 and was sent to the Justice Committee.

Amendment to the Civil Veterans Bill

Deputy Pensioners Minister Leah Nes explained that her amendment would create a position named “senior citizens consultant” in every local authority. She stated that Israel has the fifth longest life span in the world and 10% of Israel’s population is over 65 years old.

The amendment passed its first reading 9-0 and was sent to the Interior Committee.

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