Archive for December, 2010


Wednesday’s session on December 15th lasted about eight hours. Eight bills were discussed. Five bills were advanced, one was defeated, one was turned into a motion and one was postponed until next week. The first two bills that passed, known as the “Military Conversion Bill,” would allow the rabbi of the army to have the same authority as that of the rabbis of the State. A bill that would cancel credit card purchase fees and a bill that would no longer require a consumer to commit to a company for a specified amount of time were both advanced as well. A bill that would increase the punishment for nationalistic arsonists was defeated, just a week after the Carmel fire.

 

Non-Bills Summary

  • Deputy Health Minister Litzman (U.T.J.) and Homeland Security Minister Aharonovitch (Y.B.) answered urgent queries at the beginning of the session.
  • The motion on the disaster up north was voted on. Meretz’s speeches were defeated 23-40, National Union’s speeches were defeated 3-62, the three Israeli Arab parties’ speeches were defeated 24-38 and Kadima’s speeches were defeated 26-40. The Likud’s speeches were accepted 38-28.
  • Seven other motions were discussed on the hot topics of the day. Four motions were passed and sent to committees for further discussion by votes of 13-3, 11-0, 10-1-1 and 5-0. Three motions were defeated and will not reach committee by votes of 7-8, 4-10 and 3-3.
  • Deputy Defense Minister Vilnai (Labor) answered queries toward the end of the session.

 

Bills Summary

Military Conversion Bill

Before the bill was discussed Speaker Rivlin warned that he would preside over this bill with an iron fist and would not allow any rioting.

MK Rotem (Y.B.) explained that the army has been converting gentiles into Jews for years and that the validity of those conversions was never questioned. He added that his Conversion Bill passed its preliminary reading without the section dealing with military conversions earlier this year. He was asked to split the bill into two in order to buy more time for negotiating the military conversions. He noted that Israel’s Chief Rabbi Amar chose to avoid the negotiating table for 90 days and then asked for an extension. Rotem slammed the proposal that would have two types of conversions. He questioned why the same court and judges that currently convert both military and non-military groups would have to split those they convert into two. He charged that the court doesn’t want to convert soldiers and that this bill will force them to convert everyone equally. He added that former Israel Chief Rabbi Ovadia Yosef supported military conversions when he was in charge of Israel’s conversions. Rotem was interrupted several times during his speech.

The government chose not to support or oppose the bill, so no minister responded.

Amendment to the Religious Community Conversion Ordinance Bill

MK Orlev (J.H.) explained that his similar amendment would allow the army to present a soldier a certificate of conversion to Judaism during his military service. He explained that this bill would help the 800 soldiers who are currently enrolled in the army’s conversion program to receive the same rights that the previous 4,000 military converts have received over the last fifty years. He explained that this bill would allow the Army Chief Rabbi to receive the same rights of conversion as the Israel Chief Rabbi in the matter of approving the conversions by the rabbinical courts.

The government chose not to support or oppose the bill, so no minister responded.

MK Gafni (U.T.J.) objected to the bills. He noted that the National Religious Party created the position of the Israel Chief Rabbi and today is destroying it. He asked why a medic who passes a course in the army is not good enough to become a doctor, but a person who is converted in the army is good enough to be a Jew in civilian life. He said that his public voted against the formation of the chief rabbinate but accepted it, and this bill pushes his community to question if they will accept the chief rabbinate any longer. Gafni attacked Rotem and Orlev for dividing the nation by creating a conversion certificate “a” and a conversion certificate “b”.

Interior Minister Yishai (Shas) objected to the bills. He warned that this was the most dangerous bill he has seen since he was elected to the Knesset. He quoted a letter from the Army Chief Rabbi to Rabbi Drukman outlining his objection to the conversion bills. He asked Rotem and Orlev to please delay the voting on these bills for the sake of Israel’s future as a Jewish state.

MK Rotem responded that Yishai is the one who wants the headlines. He attacked Gafni who does not eat the chief rabbinate’s kosher products and noted that every religious practice in Israel has more than one track.

MK Orlev responded that the connection between synagogue and state is the foundation of the national religious Zionists. He said that there is no reason to worry that the orthodox will not control the conversions, just like there is no reason to worry that the orthodox will no longer control the kosher supervisions.

MK Sheetrit (Kadima) said that he objected to the bills but supported the content of the bills.

Rotem’s bill passed its preliminary reading 74-18 (28 MKs not present) and was sent to the House Committee to decide which committee would discuss the bill further.

Orlev’s bill passed its preliminary reading 75-18-7 (20 MKs not present) and was sent to the House Committee to decide which committee would discuss the bill further.

Amendment to the Debit Cards Bill

MK Danon (Likud) explained that his amendment would enable all credit and debit cards to clear on any machine. He said that this would put an end to a person presenting a credit card and being told that the particular credit card company is not accepted by that business. He added that businesses will no longer be charged the credit card interest and fees for every transaction and that this will allow them to lower their prices. He concluded by declaring this a day of celebration for small businesses, the end of credit card companies’ monopolies, and the future lowering of prices for the consumer.

The minister who was supposed to submit the government’s position was davening mincha, and Speaker Rivlin decided to call for a vote anyway.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 18-0 and was sent to the Finance Committee.

Amendment to the Consumer Protection Bill

MK Cabel (Labor) explained that his amendment would prohibit companies from adding a conditional clause in a business deal or transaction that would require the consumer to commit to the company for a specified period of time.

Deputy Industry and Trade Minister Noked (Labor) expressed government support for the bill and said that this bill will change every day life as we know it.

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

Amendment to the Defamation (Lashon Hara) Bill

MK Orlev explained that his amendment would combat the internet comments that cause injustice by spreading “lashon hara” about other people.

Bureaucracy Minister Eitan (Likud) pondered if the internet needs legislative boundaries. He added that technology must accept moral values and codes of conduct. He expressed government support for the bill.

MK Yacimovich (Labor) objected to the bill on the grounds that it limits freedom of expression and freedom of the press. She said that according to the current Defamation Bill, “lashon hara” only applies if you know the person that is being talked about, which means that this amendment- which would extend the current bill to the internet- is trying to protect the MKs. She stated that she opposes any bill that protects MKs. She recalled her opposition to the closing of Arutz Sheva on the grounds of freedom of expression as well.

MK Orlev responded that there are other people in the news beside politicians, such as celebrities, athletes and scientists. He asked how it could harm freedom of expression if the bill currently applies to all instances other than the internet. He explained that his amendment would close a loophole in the system. He pondered why we were sending a message to the public that if they want to break the law they can only do it online.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 27-0 and was sent to the Science Committee.

Amendment to the Penal Code Bill

MK Katzeleh (N.U.) explained that his amendment would institute mandatory jail time and an increased punishment for arsonists who destroy public property for nationalistic reasons compared to arsonists who destroy public property for criminal reasons. He noted that additional fires that were set during the Carmel fire could have been prevented if the arsonists knew that they were facing hard time. He asked how a bill could be more moral than right after we buried 43 of our dead. He quoted Mark Twain, who on his trip to Israel asked, “this is the empty holy land that everyone is fighting over?” and he answered that now that Israel is blossoming, there are those who wish to burn it down.

MK Eitan expressed government opposition to the bill. He defended the judges in Israel and said that there is no reason to interfere with their discretion. He denied a need to create a separation between nationalistic and criminal arsonists.

MK Katzeleh responded that a government that votes against this bill cannot call themselves a right-wing government.

The bill was defeated 8-42.

Motion/Amendment to the National Insurance Bill

MK Ghilon (Meretz) explained that his amendment would discontinue estate tax and entitle those who inherit their loved one’s money or belongings to do so without penalty. He stated that estate tax should not apply to those who have a will, and this bill will correct this tragedy.

Labor and Welfare Minister Herzog (Labor) expressed government opposition to the bill on the grounds that every western country has estate tax. He suggested that Ghilon turn the bill into a motion and discuss the subject in the committees.

MK Ghilon responded that a socialistic bill will always fall in a capitalistic government, but he felt that this was among the worst of this government’s decisions. He agreed to turn it into a motion.

The motion was passed 47-0 and was sent to the Labor Committee.

Amendment to the Traffic Ordinance Bill

MK Bielski (Kadima) explained that his amendment would require a minimum sentence for abandoning a person injured in an accident and the prohibition of accepting a plea bargain with the defendant for such an offense. He noted that Ministers Erdan and Simhon proposed similar bills in the past and are both now against their own bill. He blasted Judge Saliwan for sending a hit-and-run driver with an expired license who killed a 90-year-old woman to prison for only three years. He told another story of a hit-and-run driver who put a 12-year-old child in a coma, and the State accepted a plea bargain against the parents’ wishes. He listed countless other cases.

Coalition Chairman MK Elkin said that the government will agree to support the bill if Bielski withdraws it, agrees to merge his amendment with MK Matalon’s (Y.B.) from last week and waits until next week.

MK Bielski agreed.

In two separate polls carried out by the New Wave polling group for Channel 2 news Kadima has a lead over Likud. If Barak were to lead Labor in the next elections Kadima would receive 32 seats, Likud 29 and Labor 7. If Mitzne were to lead Labor then Kadima would receive just 30 seats, Likud 27 and Labor would maintain their 13. In both polls Lieberman would receive 16 and Yishai’s Shas would receive 10. Only the results of the five medium sized parties were released, and it is unknown how the seven smaller parties faired in either poll.

Channel 10’s poll, conducted the same day, found that Netanyahu was leading Livni 45% to 25% as the person most suited for the role of prime minister.

_______________________________________________________________________

Telephone poll carried out by New Wave for Israel Television Channel 2 news
and broadcast today. Results for only some parties were reported.

If elections held today (expressed in Knesset seats)
Current Knesset seats in [brackets].
30 32 [28] Kadima
27 29 [27] Likud
16 16 [15] Yisrael Beiteinu
10 10 [11] Shas headed by Eli Yishai *
13 — [13] Labor headed by Mitzne

– 07 [13] Labor headed by Barak

When Arieh Deri heads Shas in the poll Shas get 15 seats instead of 10.

Who do you think is most apropriate to head Shas?

Deri 29%

Etias 15%

Yishai 12%

_______________________________________________________________________

Dialog poll broadcast Wednesday night on Channel 10.

The poll, taken by Tel Aviv University Professor Camille Fuchs, found that 45 percent of Israelis consider Netanyahu more fitting to be prime minister while just 25 percent prefer Livni.

The latest poll that was carried out this week for Channel 99 (the Knesset Channel) by the Panels polling company gives Opposition Leader Livni her first lead over Prime Minister Netanyahu since the elections were held about two years ago. According to the poll Kadima would hold a narrow lead over Likud 31-29 and Yisrael Beiteinu (13), Shas (10) and Labor (7) would all lose seats. The right-wing block would maintain the 65 seats they hold now, a change from the last six polls carried out by various companies over the past six months and, most recently, two weeks ago, which all predicted an increase in the right-wing block to somewhere between 69-73 seats.

_______________________________________________________________

If elections were held today, who would you vote for?

Current Knesset seats in [brackets]

31 [28] Kadima

29 [27] Likud

13 [15] Yisrael Beiteinu

10 [11] Shas

07 [13] Labor

06 [05] Yahadut Hatorah

05 [03] Meretz

04 [04] National Union

03 [03] Jewish Home/NRP
12 [11] Arab parties

Last Tuesday’s session lasted about four and a half hours. No bills were discussed. International Human Rights Day and the Carmel fire were the main topics of discussion.

Non- Bills Summary

  • 17 MKs participated in the One Minute Speech segment. The main topics of the day were International Human Rights Day and the fire up north.
  • A motion on International Human Rights Day was discussed by Speaker Rivlin, Justice Minister Neeman and eight other MKs. The motion was not voted on.
  • Infrastructure Minister Landau (Y.B.) answered queries in a special ‘question hour’ segment. Eight MKs participated.
  • Six MKs who were not able to discuss the motion on the Disaster up North last week when the session finished early because of Hanukah were given an opportunity to give their speeches. The vote on the motion was delayed to a later time.
  • Infrastructure Minister Landau and Public Relations Minister Edelstein (Likud) answered queries towards the end of the session.

Last Monday’s session lasted six hours and fifteen minutes. Eight bills were discussed. Five bills passed their second and third readings, becoming law. Three bills were advanced after passing their first reading. There was a heated debate on the Azmi Bishara bill, which was advanced. The Knesset Commissioner position was abolished officially after passing its third reading.

Non-Bills Summary

  • Kadima’s no-confidence motion titled ‘Netanyahu government’s failure in all fields’ was defeated 29-56, with 35 MKs not present for the vote.
  • The three Israeli Arab parties’ no-confidence motion titled ‘A government that does not take care of poverty in general and Arab sectors in particular’ was defeated 23-57, with 3 abstaining and 37 MKs not present for the vote.
  • Speaker Rivlin greeted the Australia-Israel Leadership Forum.
  • Speaker Rivlin eulogized former Speaker Dov Shilansky, who passed away last week.
  • Speaker Rivlin and Prime Minister Netanyahu eulogized former MK and Minister Sarah Doron, who passed away this month.
  • House Committee Chairman MK Levin (Likud) announced the committee’s decisions on which committees would discuss various contested bills. He also announced that MK Orbach (J.H.) will replace MK Pinyan (Likud) in the Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee and that MK Yacimovich (Labor) will hold that position until the budget is passed. Additionally, MK Michaeli (Shas) will replace MK Amsellem (Shas) in a Labor and Health Sub-Committee. Levin also announced new substitutes in various committees: Funds Committee substitute MK Azoulay (Shas), State Comptroller Committee substitutes MK Elkin (Likud) and MK Pinyan, and MK Orlev (J.H.), who will replace MK Moses (U.T.J.) in a joint sub-committee. The appointments were approved 10-0.
  • Labor, Welfare and Health Committee Chairman MK Haim Katz (Likud) asked that the Knesset approve a technical correction change to an amendment of the National Health Insurance Bill. The Knesset approved the Committee decision 17-0.

Bills Summary

Amendment to the Value Added Tax Bill

Funds Committee Chairman MK Gafni (U.T.J.) explained that this was another bill that was split off from the Arrangements Bill. The amendment would give all soldiers who rent apartments a VAT exemption.

The bill passed its second reading 24-0.

The bill passed its third reading 24-0.

Amendment to the Psychologists Bill

Labor, Welfare and Health Committee Chairman MK Haim Katz explained that the amendment will increase the spectrum of special psychological treatments given in Israel by licensed psychologists and create a position of specialist psychologists for this purpose.

The bill passed its second reading 24-1.
The bill passed its third reading 23-0.

MK Matalon (Y.B.) thanked the Knesset for supporting his bill and expressed hope that this amendment will allow each citizen to get the appropriate care that they deserve. He also thanked his assistants for helping him with his bill.

Amendment to the Government Companies Bill

Justice, Constitution and Law Committee Chairman MK Rotem (Y.B.) explained that the amendment would lift the requirement of a relevant bachelor’s degree for any government employee working in finance; any degree would be accepted. It would, however, require board members of financial government institutions to have at least a relevant master’s degree.

The bill passed its second reading 19-0.

The bill passed its third reading 17-0.

MK Levin thanked the Knesset for supporting his bill and thanked his assistants for helping him with his bill.

Amendment to the Adoption of Children Bill

Justice, Constitution and Law Committee Chairman MK Rotem explained that this amendment would update the bill from 1991 and transfer the responsibility of adoption in Israel from the Justice Ministry to the Labor and Welfare Ministry.

The bill passed its second reading 15-0 with 1 MK abstaining.

The bill passed its third reading 17-0 with 1 MK abstaining.

MK Orlev (J.H.) noted that it took two terms to pass this bill. He thanked a long list of people for helping him with this bill.

Labor and Welfare Minister Herzog (Labor) praised Orlev as an outstanding parliamentarian and welcomed his new responsibilities.

Amendment to the Economic Efficiency Bill

Deputy Finance Minister Cohen (Shas) explained that his amendment would implement changes to the economic program from the past budgets of 2009 and 2010.

MK Oron (Meretz) admitted that he was supporting the bill but questioned the supervision of the implementation of the bill. He also attacked the private contractor who failed to fundraise for the Tel Aviv subway for the past 13 years.

MK Tibi (R.T.) also confessed that he would support the bill. He chose to attack the cellular companies for making too much money. He noted that a text message sent from overseas costs 30 NIS and pondered if an oil painting was cheaper.

The bill passed its first reading 17-0 and was sent to the Funds Committee.

Amendment to the Religious Courts Bill

Labor and Welfare Minister Herzog explained that the amendment would allow the religious courts to use ‘social assistance units’ in the same manner that civil courts use them today. He explained that these units are comprised mostly of social workers, and they are sent to the homes of troubled people to help resolve issues.

MK Horowitz (Meretz) called religious courts an anomaly of Israeli democracy and labeled them undemocratic. He stated that most Israelis avoid the religious courts at all costs. He explained that he was against the bill because it would help the religious courts become more relevant. He blasted the Christian religious courts as well. He demanded that the religious courts be abolished.

MK Khenin (Hadash) supported Horowitz’s speech. He went on to attack the rabbis’ letter against selling property to Arabs and called it a crime that must be prosecuted. He called on the government to fire the rabbis and to no longer pay their salaries. He concluded by calling religious institutions in Israel racist.

MK Zeev (Shas) told Horowitz and Khenin that they do not know the first thing about the religious courts because they have never stepped foot in one. He tried to defend his position, but after being heckled he gave up. He expressed support for the bill.

MK Tibi expressed support for the bill but labeled rabbis as a negative influence in society.

The bill passed its first reading 26-0 with two MKs abstaining.

Denial of payment to MKs and former MKs who have committed offenses against the State of Israel Bill

MK Israel Hasson (Kadima) told the story of former MK Bishara’s betrayal of the country in a hypothetical manner. He stated that paying him is absurd and that he is worried that other MKs will follow suit. He assured that only MKs and former MKs who have not shown up for their investigations would be punished under this bill. He called this a bill that should “obviously” be supported.

MK Ariel (N.U.) expressed support for the bill, yet expressed concern that it is coming three years too late. He remarked that this is the least that should be done and expects more to be done in the future. He stated that anyone who opposes this bill is supporting the next violation against the State of Israel.

MK Agbaria (Hadash) called the bill racist and blasted Hasson and his Yisrael Beitenu co-sponsors. He labeled the bill sectoral and undemocratic. He called those who support the bill anti-semites.

MK Zahalka (Balad) said that this bill was personal and directed at Bishara. He said that it is undemocratic to take away a citizen’s pension, let alone an MK. He warned that this would hurt Bishara’s wife and children and asked the MKs to oppose it.

MK Zoabi (Balad) said that this bill attacks MKs who have opinions that are not in the consensus. She was heckled by many MKs and Deputy Speaker Whbee (Kadima) had difficulty maintaining order. MK Matalon was almost removed after being called to order twice for threatening Zoabi if she goes on another flotilla.

MK Ben Ari (N.U.) called the previous speakers enemies. His speech was heckled as well. He said that the Knesset should take Bishara’s life and not his pension after he spied for Hezbollah during the second Lebanese war.

MK Oron asked if maybe we should take away former President Katzav’s pension as well. He warned that the bill crosses a red line.

MK Hotovely (Likud) stated that after three long years Israel will correct the disgrace of paying the pension of a traitor. She told Zahalka and Zoabi that they should be ashamed of themselves. Zoabi heckled for a few minutes. Hotovely demanded that people who deny Israel as a Jewish and democratic state not receive pensions. She said that Bishara should never have been allowed to be elected to Knesset and was heckled more. She suggested Oron resign from the Knesset as well. She said that we must stop allowing traitors into this building.

MK Levin said Bishara deserves worse and called Zoabi and Zahalka traitors as well. Levin asked how a person who is not in the country he worked can expect a pension from that country. He asked why Bishara should be paid a pension when he was using his job to commit treason.

MK Regev (Likud) was heckled before she even reached the podium. Regev told Zoabi that she was a traitor and should be sent to Gaza. She said she was sick of people using Israel’s democracy against it. She said that no democratic country pays traitors a pension. Pandemonium broke out after her speech, and Regev was called to order and almost thrown out for verbally attacking Zoabi.

MK Zeev said with sorrow that Israel acted stupidly by not officially arresting Bishara and by giving him the benefit of the doubt and now he is free and at large. He wondered why Bishara’s advice on where the Hezbolla should aim their missiles earns him any money.

MK Rotem said he was not surprised by Zahalka and Zoabi, but he was surprised at Oron. He attacked those who talked about Bishara’s wife and children and asked if they were more important than the wives and children of the Israelis who died as a result of Bishara’s spying.

MK Israel Hasson got up to defend his law. He assured that the bill was not racist and said that the bill was simply and only directed at MKs or former MKs who spy for the enemy.

The bill passed its first reading 23-9 and was sent to the House Committee.

Amendment to the Knesset Bill

House Committee Chairman MK Levin explained that his amendment would terminate the position of Knesset Commissioner for Future Generations, a position that was manned from 2001-2006 but has since remained vacant. He questioned how a former judge could predict the future and tell the Knesset what to do. He also questioned the abnormally high two million shekel annual budget given to the commissioner as a salary. He also questioned why the Supreme Court doesn’t have a commissioner, since their decisions affect the future more than the Knesset. Levin suggested that the MKs can take the future into account without the need of a commissioner. He concluded that Horowitz’s objections should be rejected.

Speaker Rivlin thanked Levin for his work on the bill.

MK Horowitz called this a sad day for the Knesset. He praised the commissioner position that was legislated by former minister Tommy Lapid. He praised former Commissioner Judge Shoham who put his emphasis on the environment. He called on the Knesset to change the bill and not abolish the position. He stated that the commissioner is not a monster and is not trying to control the Knesset. He slammed Levin for killing the commissioner position. He said he was convinced that, if killed, the commissioner position would live again.

MK Khenin supported and agreed with Horowitz. He agreed that the position wasn’t perfect but was worthy. He stressed that sustainability was needed as we move forward in the 21st century. He admitted that the position was murdered in 2006 but that today it will be put to rest.

The bill passed its paragraphs that didn’t have objections and its second reading by the votes of 11-3 and 11-3.

Horowitz’s objection was defeated 4-10. The other objections were withdrawn.

The bill passed its third reading 11-4.

MK Levin thanked his co-sponsor MK Gafni and his assistants for helping him with his bill.

Last Wednesday’s session lasted about four hours. Seven bills were discussed in their preliminary readings. Three were advanced, three were defeated, and one was turned into a motion to avoid defeat. The government defeated the Anti-Rape Bill that would restrict judges from handing rapists lower sentences for repeated offenses. One of the bills that did advance would raise the sentence of hit-and-run crimes to twenty years.

 

Non-Bills Summary

  • Urgent queries were answered by Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud), Interior Minister Yishai (Shas), and Education Minister Sa’ar (Likud).
  • Three motions on the hot topics of the day were discussed at the end of the day by the few MKs that remained. The three motions passed by the votes of 3-1, 10-0 and 5-0-1. They were sent to their relevant committees for further discussion.

 

Bills Summary

Firefighting and Recovery Service Bill

Interior Committee Chairman MK Azoulay (Shas) explained that his bill from two years ago proves relevant after the Carmel fire. He informed the plenum that his bill would require all cities and local authorities to have a designated firefighting and recovery authority that will protect their citizens. He mentioned the bill would also lower the fire fighters’ retirement age to 57.

Interior Minister Yishai expressed government support for the bill.

MK Yacimovich (Labor) objected to the bill on the grounds that if passed fire fighters will not be able to form a labor union. She blasted Azoulay and alleged that he was worried that fire fighters would go on strike and not put out fires.

MK Chaim Katz (Likud) echoed Yacimovich’s objection.

MK Azoulay asked the two objecting MKs if one blemish in the bill is worth defeating it and risking the lives of citizens in future fires.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 41-0 and was sent to the Interior Committee.

Amendment to the Traffic Ordinance Bill

MK Matalon (Y.B.) explained that his amendment would enforce a stricter punishment for offenses that include abandonment after injury.  He congratulated the 3,500 children from Shoham who urged the government to support this bill for months. He informed the plenum that the bill would force those who commit hit and run crimes to pay a higher price. He quoted a study that presented the findings that there have been over a thousand hit and run crimes over the last decade. He stated that the minimum sentence would be raised from seven years to twenty. He called twenty a small number and blasted the courts for accepting plea bargains on the subject.

Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz expressed government support for the bill.  He noted that Bielski had a similar bill that did not receive government support and asked Bielski to stop attacking him in the press on the subject because he agreed with Bielski’s bill. Katz demanded an apology.

MK Bielski (Kadima) attacked Katz for lying. He noted that he was given an email from Katz’s assistant in which Katz outlined to the government his opposition to the bill right after he had assured Bielski that he would support it.

Katz denied any connection to his assistant’s email.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 40-0 and was sent to the Justice Committee.

Amendment to the Wage Protection Bill

MK Yacimovich explained that her amendment would allow employees to make tax-deductible donations from their salaries to various government-approved social institutions.

Deputy Defense Minister Vilnai (Labor) expressed government support for the bill.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 35-0 and was sent to the Labor Committee.

Motion/Amendment to the National Health Insurance Bill

MK Naffaa (Balad) explained that his amendment would require a doctor to check a child’s weight on a scale as part of a routine check-up. He hoped that this amendment would help doctors detect a child’s obesity before the child became overweight for life.

Deputy Health Minister Litzman (U.T.J.) expressed the government’s opposition to the bill. He informed the plenum that this matter can be solved as a provision, without the need for legislation. He asked Naffaa to turn the bill into a motion in order to discuss the matter further in a committee.

The motion passed 29-0 and was sent to the Health Committee.

Amendment to the Penal Code Bill

MK ‘Katzeleh’ Katz (N.U.) explained that his amendment would increase punishments for repeated serial offenses. The bill, known informally as the “Anti-Rape Bill”, would no longer allow judges to give repeated offenders a shorter sentence the second time around for the following crimes: murder, attempted murder, rape, pedophilia, human trafficking and drug trafficking. Katzeleh explained that today there are no “serial” crimes in the law.  He said this bill would create the term for the above crimes, and repeated offences would result in escalating sentences.

Katzeleh spent the rest of his speech comparing Netanyahu’s decree of a settlement freeze against the settlers to the decrees of Antiochus the Greek against the Jews during the time of Hanukah. He expressed hope that Netanyahu heard his words from his office and concluded that he plans to work with elements within the Likud to topple Netanyahu and replace him with someone else.

Communications Minister Kahlon (Likud) informed those present that he was relaying an answer from Justice Minister Neeman. He expressed government opposition to the bill on the grounds that it would interfere with the judge’s discretion and that increased sentences are not the best answer for avoiding repeat offenses. He stated the final argument that the legislative branch should not be dictating what the judicial branch should be doing.

Speaker Rivlin interrupted Deputy Speaker Maklev (U.T.J.) to inform the MKs that the State Comptroller’s report on the state of firefighters in Israel would be released to them thirty minutes before it would be released to the public. Prime Minister Netanyahu entered the plenum and took his seat.

MK Katzeleh thanked Kahlon for reading off the paper that Neeman gave him. He reminded the ministers present that the government has routinely defeated his bills that could have changed the future. He noted a previous bill that he had brought up that called for an increased sentence for an arsonist who sets a fire for nationalistic reasons compared to the current sentence for arson that does not distinguish between criminal and nationalistic motivations.

Katzeleh spent the rest of his speech attacking and screaming at Netanyahu. Netanyahu did not look up from his seat once.

The bill was defeated 12-44.

Minister Braverman (Labor) and MK Majadele (Labor) both voted for the bill. After the vote they explained they meant to vote against the bill.

Amendment to the Housing Loans Bill

MK Ghilon (Meretz) explained his amendment would create a special committee that would determine if a person has adequate references and requirements before being able to submit an application for a mortgage.

Minister Kahlon informed the plenum that he submitted the same bill in the past, and it was defeated. He told Ghilon that he agreed with him and the bill, but that the government opposes the bill. He stated that such a committee exists, but this bill would require all people to use it and therefore the government would not be able to meet the financial requirements.

MK Ghilon attacked Netanyahu for opposing all opposition bills.

The bill was defeated 12-34.

MK Zeev voted from MK Gafni’s place by accident.

Amendment to the National Health Insurance Bill

MK Solodkin (Kadima) explained that her amendment would give senior citizens a 60% discount for prescription drugs.

Deputy Health Minister Litzman expressed the government’s opposition to the bill on the grounds that they already receive a 30% discount. Litzman noted that a 60% discount would place the health ministry at a huge loss for each drug, and they would be forced to raise the prices. Litzman concluded that prescription drugs in Israel are, for the most part, socialized and are among the cheapest in the world.

MK Solodkin slammed the health ministry and the government and called them a bunch of liars who don’t care about the elderly.

The bill was defeated 12-42.

Tuesday’s session lasted about three hours. Five bills were discussed. Two bills were passed in their first readings and three bills were passed in their third readings, becoming law. The new laws include a prohibition on driving along the beach, prohibiting the importing of Israeli flags and forcing the public transportation companies to post updated electronic timetables at main and central stops. Another four bills were split off from the Budget’s Arrangements Bill, after the opposition agreed to support them. MK Amsellem (Shas) was stripped of his position in three of the Knesset committees in response to his vocal opposition to Shas Leader Eli Yishai.

 

Non-Bills Summary

  • 21 MKs and Minister Eitan (Likud) participated in the ‘One Minute Speech’ segment of the day. The main topic was the fire up north and whether an investigation on the government’s conduct was necessary.
  • House Committee Chairman MK Levin (Likud) announced that MK Zeev (Shas) would replace MK Amsellem in the Education Committee and MK Michaeli (Shas) would replace Amsellem in the Labor Committee and the Public Appeals Committee. He also informed the plenum that MK Amsellem would replace MK Zeev in the Fight on Drugs Committee. Other changes included MK Molla (Kadima) replacing MK Itzik (Kadima) in the House Committee and MK Shemtov (Y.B.) replacing MK Miller (Y.B.) in the Finance Committee.
  • A motion on the “Alarming data on the state of democracy in Israel” was discussed by nine MKs and Minister Eitan. The motion was passed 10-1 and will be discussed further in the plenum at a later date.
  • Proposals from the Finance Committee Bill on the division of economic policy for the years 2011 and 2012 were outlined by Funds Committee Chairman MK Gafni (U.T.J.). He explained that he wished to split four bills from the Arrangements Bill because both the coalition and the opposition agreed on them. The splits were approved 13-0, 12-0, 11-0 and 9-0.

 

Bills Summary

Amendment to the Banning Driving on the Beach Bill

Interior Committee Chairman Azoulay (Shas) explained that his amendment would prohibit cars and other automobiles from driving on the sand in and near beaches. He informed that violators would receive a fine but would not serve jail time.

MK Khenin (Hadash) stated that he was pleased to see a bill that he co-sponsored pass. He noted that the bill that was passed in 1977 was never enforced, and he expressed hope that this amendment would change that. He mentioned his frustration towards the government offices that prolonged the passing of the bill.

MK Azoulay thanked his assistants and his co-sponsor MK Khenin.

The bill passed its second reading 14-0.

The bill passed its third reading 14-0.

Amendment to the Flag, Emblem and National Anthem Bill

Finance Committee Chairman Akunis (Likud) explained that the amendment would forbid the importing of Israeli flags into Israel. He called it a festival and celebration for the “Made in Israel” industries.

The bill passed its second reading 12-0.

The bill passed its third reading 13-0.

Amendment to the Traffic Ordinance Bill

Finance Committee Chairman Akunis explained that the amendment would force public transportation companies to post updated electronic timetables at main and central stops. He informed the plenum that a country-wide public transportation center would be created to collect all of the information in one place.

MK Yacimovich (Labor) thanked Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud) and other Knesset officials for supporting the bill.

The bill passed its second reading 14-0.

The bill passed its third reading 14-0.

Amendment to the Securities Bill

Labor Committee Chairman MK Chaim Katz (Likud) explained that his amendment would prohibit the postponement of an individual’s payment and obligation towards a public company that goes bankrupt, including a controlling shareholder.

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

Amendment to the Municipalities Ordinance Bill

MK Ezra (Kadima) explained that his amendment would require cities that are not part of the Israeli police’s “cities without violence” program to form a committee to “eradicate violence”.

MK Ben Ari (N.U.) blasted the Palestinians for claiming that the Western Wall was never part of a Jewish state and that the Israeli temple is fiction.

MK Bielski (Kadima), former mayor of Ra’anana, supported the bill and demanded it be expanded.

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

The poll that was carried out a week and a half ago show different numbers than the Walla poll taken after the fire up north. It would appear that after the fire the Likud gained two seats under Netanyahu, Kadima dropped three seats for staying under the radar, and Yisrael Beiteinu gained three seats in the aftermath of Homeland Security Minister Aharonovitch’s operation which put the fire out. Shas dropped two seats due to Interior Minister Yishai being blamed for the fire and United Torah Judaism also dropped two seats under Funds Committee Chairman MK Gafni. The party that lost the most ground between the two polls is Meretz, who dropped four seats.

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Knesset seat breakdown according to a Smith Consulting poll carried out for The Jerusalem Post:

Current Knesset seats in [brackets].

30 [27] Likud
29 [28] Kadima
15 [15] Yisrael Beiteinu
06 [13] Labor
11 [11] Shas
07 [05] Yahadut Hatorah
03 [03] Jewish Home/NRP
06 [03] Meretz
03 [04] National Union
10 [11] Arab parties

The poll of a representative sample of 500 adult Israelis was carried out November 30-December 1 and has a margin of error of 4.5 percentage points.

This week’s Walla News poll carried out by Maagar Mahot is the fifth consecutive poll in the last six months that awards Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Likud with a gain and Tzipi Livni’s Kadima with a loss. According to this poll Lieberman would receive 18 seats, a gain of three. Labor would fall to 8 seats, and Shas would fall to 9. The right wing block would grow from 65 seats to 71. The center-left block would fall from 44 to 39 seats and the Israeli Arab parties would lose a seat. Israel moves to the right, despite President Obama’s pressure.

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If elections were held today (expressed in Knesset seats) based on the 69% that named a party.

Current Knesset seats in [brackets].

32 [27] Likud
26 [28] Kadima
18 [15] Yisrael Beiteinu
08 [13] Labor
09 [11] Shas
05 [05] Yahadut Hatorah
03 [03] Jewish Home/NRP
02 [03] Meretz
04 [04] National Union
03 [00] Centrist party headed by Yair Lapid
10 [11] Arab parties

The survey was conducted by telephone, by the Research Institute “Maagar Mochot” headed by Professor Yitzhak Katz, on 5.12.10, a probability sample of 502 respondents, representing the Israeli adult population (ages 18 and over). The maximum sampling error is 4.5%.

Monday’s session lasted three hours. It was marked as a special session, and only one motion- on the fire up north- was discussed. Most of the MKs did not have a chance to speak because it had been previously determined that the session would end at 15:00. Deputy Speaker Avraham Balila (Kadima) assured the rest of the MKs that they would have a chance to speak about the fire later in the week.

 

Non-Bills Summary

  • Speaker Rivlin opened the session with a motion on the Disaster up North. Homeland Security Minister Aharonovitch (Y.B.), who led the government’s response to the fire, summarized the ordeal. 27 MKs and ministers discussed the fire, and most of them called for an investigation into the fire and to increase the fire fighters’ budget.
  • Speaker Rivlin greeted Columbia’s Vice President Garson with a warm speech and thanked him for visiting Israel and the Knesset.
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