Wednesday’s session lasted about eight hours. Fourteen bills were discussed. Five bills were advanced, one was turned into a motion and two delayed their vote in order to avoid defeat, while five bills were defeated. A recycling bill was passed in its third reading. The main event of the idea was the swearing in of the new government. Three ministers resigned, two deputy ministers were promoted to ministers, and two ministers received promotions through additional ministerial responsibilities. The long discussion on the changes in the government overshadowed the bills discussed earlier in the day. The changes in the government were approved 53-40 with 27 MKs not present for the vote. Seven Kadima MKs were removed from the plenum after spraying air freshener cans to protest the “stinky” deal in which the Labor party’s 13 seats split. Defense Minister Barak created the Independence party with five MKs, including himself, leaving Labor with eight MKs. Independence will remain in the coalition and Labor will head to the opposition. Netanyahu’s majority shrinks from 74 to 66, while the opposition strengthens its numbers from 46 to 54.
- Deputy Foreign Minister Ayalon (Y.B.) and Deputy Defense Minister Vilnai (Labor) answered urgent queries at the beginning of the session. Vilnai would become part of the new Independence faction at the end of the session.
- Five of the six motions discussed were passed by the votes 8-0, 10-1, 6-0, 10-0 and 7-0. One motion was defeated 2-8.
Three Amendments to the Treatment of Mental Patients Bill
MK Orlev (J.H.) explained that a court sends a mental patient to an institution but the institution decides when to release the patient, as opposed to the court. He explained that his amendment would establish a court release program for mental patients to replace the current system.
MK Azoulay (Shas) complained about the current situation where the judge sends the patient to the institution but has no power to keep him there or ask for his release. He explained that his similar amendment would inform the judge who sent the patient to an institution when he is released.
MK Zuaretz (Kadima) blasted the current system where the institution has power to decide whether a patient is fit to be released without the court’s position. She explained that her amendment is similar to Orlev’s and Azoulay’s and asked the Knesset to approve her bill as well.
Deputy Health Minister Litzman (U.T.J.) expressed government support for all three of the bills. He stated that MK Levy-Abekasis passed a similar bill earlier in the month. He noted that all of the bills will be merged into one bill in the committee.
The first bill passed its preliminary reading 25-0.
The second bill passed its preliminary reading 32-0.
The third bill passed its preliminary reading 27-0.
The three bills were merged and sent to the Health Committee.
Speaker Rivlin wished Minister Peled a happy 70th birthday.
Amendment to the Water and Sewage Bill
MK Bielski (Kadima) explained that his amendment will prohibit the cancellation of self-run water and sewage services. He complained that the water reform will cost the public millions of shekels for no reason. He explained that his bill would allow each mayor to decide if they want a self-run water and sewage service or if they prefer a government one. He noted the several mayors in the audience that day who will derail any attempt to force upon them an arrangement they don’t accept. Bielski agreed to postpone voting for the bill in order to gain government support.
Amendment to the City Unions Bill
MK Danon (Likud) explained that his amendment would expand the powers of city unions’ recycling programs.
Speaker Rivlin said he would not wait for the minister to return and would go to a vote immediately.
The bill passed its preliminary reading 25-1 and was sent to the Interior Committee.
Amendment to the Knesset Bill (Adjustment to the Basic Law: Knesset)
MK Levin (Likud) explained that his amendment will move certain paragraphs from the Knesset Bill to the Basic Law: Knesset, and therefore strengthen them.
Justice Minister Neeman expressed government support for the bill. He said that he approves strengthening the Basic Law: Knesset, and questioned the need for a regular Knesset Bill.
The bill passed its preliminary reading 37-0 and was sent to the House Committee.
Amendment to the Prohibition of Kosher Fraud Bill
MK Katzeleh (N.U.) explained that his amendment would prohibit the Supreme Court from ruling on the considerations of what is considered to be kosher enough for a rabbinate supervision certificate. He blasted the Supreme Court and said that the rabbis will decide what kosher is and will not allow some judge to overrule those decisions. He explained that Israel’s Chief Rabbi Amar requested this bill. He stated it was important to keep the definitions of what is kosher within the rabbinate.
Speaker Rivlin said that, as a traditional person and someone who respects religion and tries to keep kosher, he’d like Katzeleh to delay the vote on the bill in order to win over government support. Speaker Rivlin suggested that the bill not be brought up for a vote today and defeated. Katzeleh agreed to postpone the vote on the bill for one week.
Amendment to the National Health Insurance Bill
MK Sarsur (R.T.) complained that national health insurance is not free because all citizens pay a regressive health tax that is taken from their paycheck. He blasted the high cost of specialist doctors and the fact that several patients must pay for at least part of their surgeries. He explained that his amendment would give patients a full refund for services they must seek elsewhere when the national health clinics are closed on the Sabbath and holidays.
Deputy Health Minister Litzman asked to turn the bill into a motion. Sarsur rejected the option. Litzman said that the budget needed for this bill is enormous and that the government and his ministry have no money to implement it and are therefore against it.
The bill was defeated 16-39.
Amendment to the Dying Patient Bill
MK Oron (Meretz) explained that his amendment would allow a doctor to write a prescription of death if requested to do so by the patient. He explained further that the bill would prohibit the doctor from making an active effort to extend the life of a person who is on life support or on breathing or feeding tubes beyond a six month period if such a prescription is written. He said that the bill might present a moral dilemma, but if a person is suffering and they are going to die anyway, why not allow them to die peacefully and with respect. He noted that this bill passed in the United States 14 years ago and that an average of only 60 people per year exercise their right to die. He called this bill a responsible solution to a big problem that has no other solutions.
Deputy Health Minister Litzman said the original bill is very delicate and represents a consensus from most of the parties in the Knesset. Litzman explained that allowing a doctor to write a prescription of death is something that 48 states in America do not offer. He noted that only Washington and Oregon have such a law and that the bill has been actively opposed in over 20 states.
MK Oron charged that Litzman is against the bill because it is against Jewish law. He said that he wonders how long the country can stand with two separate value systems.
The bill was defeated 16-48-2.
Amendment to the National Health Insurance Bill
MK Sheetrit (Kadima) explained that his amendment would force the clinics to send the 17 Transfer Form (hitchayvut, or agreement to pay) directly to the hospitals that provide the services. He said that this bill will ease the bureaucracy on the citizen. He said that in an age when everything is computerized there is no reason not to simplify things.
Deputy Health Minister Litzman said that he agrees with the intentions of the bill but there is no reason to pass a bill on the subject. He informed that he already made a provision on this and his ministry will implement the change by the end of 2013.
MK Sheetrit said if Litzman agrees with the intentions of the bill he should support the bill. Litzman suggested a motion, but Sheetrit rejected the suggestion and demanded it pass as a bill.
The bill was defeated 20-43.
Requirement on Reporting Financial Institutions and Unclaimed Money Bill
MK Sheetrit said many people are entitled to money they inherited but have no clue that the money is waiting for them. He said that in the United States, Britain and France a free website exists which allows people to search for their families’ inheritance. He said that right now there is approximately NIS 15-25 billion sitting in the government vault that belongs to the public and something must be done to allow the citizens to claim the money that is rightfully theirs.
Finance Minister Steinitz (Likud) said that Sheetrit is bringing up a real problem that needs a real solution. He said that the solution Sheetrit is offering will harm the privacy and confidentiality of the families. He stated that the Security Authority is responsible for finding those who inherit the money if the account has not been accessed after ten years and they are not allowed to take any of that money. He said his ministry has created a situation that motivates the Authority to find the owners of the accounts.
MK Sheetrit said that the finance ministry has lowered the earning of those who manage the accounts from 0.6% to 0.25%, and that it is not a worthwhile enticement to locate the rightful owners. Sheetrit suggested that, if Steinitz agreed with him on the problem and is not offering a solution, perhaps the government should support the bill. He said that today there is no incentive for those who are managing the accounts to ever report the accounts or find their rightful owners.
The bill was defeated 21-43.
Civil Service Bill
MK Yoel Hasson (Kadima) explained that his original bill would force the ultra-orthodox to serve in the military or in the civil service. He predicted the countless protests across the country over the last week against the ultra-orthodox community who refuse to be drafted are only the beginning. He warned that Israeli society will not tolerate the current situation much longer. He warned that the demographics present a fear that a majority of Israelis will be ultra-orthodox or Arab and therefore not serve in the army. He said that only 4% of the population does more than 4 days of reserve duty per year, which represents 1 in 22 people. He slammed the Israeli-Arab leaders for shunning Arab youth who join the civil service. He blasted the ultra-orthodox for keeping their community from integrating into Israeli society. He said that he is ashamed that there are leftists who get out of army duty. He called on all of Israel’s citizens to serve the country in some way. He called on the MKs to send a message by supporting his bill.
Science and Technology Minister Hershkowitz (J.H.) said that he personally believes that serving in the army is not an option but a must. He stated that he served in the army and all of his children did as well. He said that it is a very delicate matter that can’t be dealt with as an MK bill and needs to be dealt with as a government bill. He said the government bill that will be proposed on the subject has over 90 paragraphs and is wide spread and not up for interpretation. He criticized the current bill as being too short and simple. He warned it would cause violent unrest from the Arabs, ultra-orthodox and national religious women and said therefore the government is against this bill.
MK Hasson said that the government is stubborn and insensitive toward the citizens that do serve their country by allowing bureaucratic obstacles to prevent others from joining them. He attacked Defense Minister Barak and said that the position of defense minister is a right and not a job. He promised to bring the bill again in six months after it is defeated today. He went on to spend the next five minutes screaming at Defense Minister Barak, whose response was one long smirk.
The bill was defeated 22-61.
Motion/Amendment to the Traffic Ordinance Bill
MK Bielski discussed the tragedy of road deaths for several minutes. He noted that many of the dead were riding motorcycles. He explained that his amendment would allow motorcycles in public transportation lanes.
Transportation Minister Katz (Likud) said that the government opposed the bill on the grounds that there is no need to take a small thing and turn it into legislation. He said he was willing to turn the bill into a motion and see what can be done to advance the idea. He expressed hope that this would change citizens’ day to day routines and make our country greener. He thanked the sponsor of the bill, Bielski, who has worked on this bill for over a year.
MK Bielski agreed.
The motion passed 47-1 and was sent to the Finance Committee.
Regulating the Treatment Packages Bill
Environment Minister Erdan (Likud) explained that his bill would increase the number of cities that participate in recycling programs and create recycling centers that will create new jobs. He explained that the bill would also force all factories to recycle what they can and will bring private recycling bins to citizens’ homes in certain cities.
MK Yisrael Hasson (Kadima) said his bill will force all industries to recycle items that can be recycled. He hoped that a new recycling market will create several new companies and jobs. He noted that the bill will start to take effect in 2015 and will conclude by 2020. He went on to discuss for fifteen minutes the technicalities of the bill. He asked the Knesset to vote for his two objections and for the bill.
Environment Minister Erdan expressed government support for the objections in the bill.
The objections were passed 9-0 and 9-0.
The bills paragraphs passed their second readings 9-0, 9-0, 9-0, 9-0, 9-0.
The bill passed its third reading 9-0.
Government announcement on cessation of service of cabinet ministers, the expiry of tenure of deputy ministers, government ministers join the distribution and changes in government functions
Environment Minister Erdan stated that Labor ministers Industry and Trade Minister Ben Eliezer, Labor and Welfare Minister Herzog and Minority Affairs Minister Braverman resigned on Monday and their resignation went into effect 48 hours later, which is today (Wednesday). He stated that former Labor MKs Agriculture Minister Simhon, Deputy Defense Minister Vilnai and Deputy Industry and Trade Minister Noked have left their positions. He explained that all together four ministers and two deputy ministers will no longer remain in the offices in which they sat since the government was formed at the beginning of the term. Erdan went on to announce that the two former deputy ministers Vilnai and Noked would be promoted to ministers and Simhon would be promoted to a different portfolio. The new positions are Industry and Trade Minister and Minorities Minister Simhon (Independence), Homefront Command Minister Vilnai (Independence) and Agriculture Minister Noked (Independence). In addition, Communications Minister Kahlon (Likud) will be the new Labor and Welfare Minister as well. He concluded by announcing that Defense Minister Barak (Independence) will remain in his position.
MK Sheetrit called this the blackest week in Knesset that he has experienced in his 30 years as an MK. He stated that coalition MKs are taking anti-nausea medication so they can stomach voting for the new government. He said that Barak has run away again and that the 5 Independence MKs are dead politically. He asked Prime Minister Netanyahu to stop the madness in which there are more ministers and deputy ministers than coalition MKs and there is no separation of powers between the legislators and the executive branch. Sheetrit concluded by calling on Netanyahu to call for new elections and to go home.
MK Oron said that no coalitions MKs are present because the coalitions MKs are embarrassed. He asked why Barak would leave his party to stay defense minister. He stated that if Barak’s discretion within the party is this bad, his discretion as defense minister must be worse, and it will be hard for him (Oron) to sleep at night. Oron said that at least the opposition grew today in the numbers and that the bluffs are off the table.
MK Ghilon (Meretz) said that in his experience in politics anything is possible, even this. He said that the public doesn’t care about this trick and they really don’t care who the old or the new agriculture minister is. He wondered if the apathy could help bring a new alternative that would start with the separation of church from state and the establishment of a Palestinian state.
MK Avraham Balila (Kadima) said that the evil racist government has no shame. She said this deal’s stench does not reach Shalom, Matan, Orit, Einat and Ehud, who now have assured their job security for the next year, but the stench reaches everyone else. She said that the extremist right-wing fringe government is sick and unfortunately not just a bad joke. She warned that Barak’s corrupt bargain is political suicide. She asked Minister Meridor where he is hiding today. She concluded that the price of this government is too high and it must be stopped at once.
MK Horowitz (Meretz) said that no one needs to be a political analyst to see that when a party of five seats receives four ministries there is corruption in the air. He said that the Independence Party is hurting the Knesset’s standing and is an utter embarrassment. He said the voters of Labor feel that Barak sold their votes for nothing. He said that Defense Minister Barak no longer has integrity and can’t lead Israel in a war and must resign at once. He concluded by thanking Barak for finally taking Labor out of the government.
MK Khenin (Hadash) said that all the masks are off. He stated that the leader of the peace camp and the one joined the most right-wing government in Israel’s history, has shown his real face for the first time in his political career. He called Barak the biggest opportunist in political history and laughed that in a year he might no longer be in the chair he enjoys so much.
MK Zuaretz (Kadima) said that Barak only cares about his personal interests and his chair and that is why he has been sucking up to Netanyahu. She blasted the increase of the government’s indirect taxes. She said Barak is not a leader but a “jobnick”.
MK Shai (Kadima) said that the four MKs who went with Barak won the lottery and will receive pay bonuses and bigger offices. He warned that the rest of the MKs and the country have lost.
MK Katzeleh said that he doesn’t blame Barak for this trick but he does blame Netanyahu. He asked Netanyahu why he raised the flag of the right and went to the Labor party. He called on Netanyahu to ditch the Independence party and bring the National Union party into the coalition and create a real right-wing government. He noted that 40,000 Jerusalem people are living in garages and storage rooms waiting for the building in Jerusalem to resume. He slammed Netanyahu and told him if he returned to the army today no one would follow him because he has no integrity and is not trustworthy.
MK Boim (Kadima) said he didn’t believe that Netanyahu supported the Sheshinski Committee because that was the first smart decision Netanyahu has made since he was elected Prime Minister. He blasted Netanyahu for spending most of his time dealing with politics instead of action. He said that the Labor party received independence from Barak as their chairman, Barak received independence from the title of the leader of the peace camp, Netanyahu received independence from his Bar Ilan speech, in which he agreed to a Palestinian state, and Abu Mazen received independence.
MK Molla (Kadima) blasted the “stinky deal of 2011”. He said that Barak ran away and is a deserter. He called on the military police to arrest the defense minister for running away from the left and joining the right. He said that Barak prefers an extremist right-wing government with Lieberman to the Labor party. He called the Independence party a stinky party and a Bibi-job party. He laughed that their chairperson is an MK who entered the Knesset less than a year ago and is on maternity leave. He blasted Barak for accepting Katzeleh’s policies and called on purifying the government. Deputy Speaker Akunis (Likud) suggested that Molla explain himself and Molla indicated that he misspoke.
MK Zahalka (Balad) said the evolution of the Israeli political parties is an interesting subject. He noted how the Labor party has moved around over the years. He wondered if there would be another split in the Labor party and some MKs would join Kadima. He said that he isn’t shedding any tears for Labor’s collapse. He concluded by mocking Minister Kahlon.
MK Eldad (N.U.) recalled the Labor party primary between Barak and Ami Ayalon in which the Arab vote was the deciding factor that gave Barak his victory. He accused Barak of blackmailing the leaders of Arab towns. He said there is no other reason why over 90% of the Arabs voted for Barak. He concluded that Barak is a dirty politician who will do anything to stay in power.
MK Yisrael Hasson said that Netanyahu took the symbol of the party that built the country and the symbol of one of Israel’s biggest heroes and buried them in a donkey’s grave.
MK Yoel Hasson said that he didn’t believe Barak and Netanyahu would do such a thing, and thought it was some pre-April fool’s joke when he first heard of the deal. He said Barak and Netanyahu are the architects of destruction, lies, survival and the end of democracy as we know it. He suggested that the coalition stop, shut up and go out to the street and ask people what they think of it. He said the government is causing its citizens to throw up. He warned that good citizens are running away from politics. He called Barak an opportunist, desperate and willing to do anything to keep his seat. He concluded Barak is not a leader but a joke.
MK Ben Simon (Labor) said that the Netanyahu-Lieberman-Barak government is finally complete because Barak has finally found himself. He thanked Barak for leaving and enabling the Labor party voters to come home. He said that Barak has only brought negativity to everyone around him.
MK Ben Ari (N.U.) quoted Ben Gurion, who said that all of biblical Israel that is under Israeli control may not be given away to anybody. He called on the Independence party to return to Ben Gurion’s ways. He blasted Kadima for creating the loophole that the Independence party used and for denying it.
MK Cabel (Labor) said the shehechiyanu blessing (blessing for new things). He told the Likud that Barak is all theirs, a free present without tax. He said he has been waiting for this day for two years, a day where the capitalistic Barak who lives in the exclusive Akirov Towers is finally gone. He said that today he is no longer a rebel, and he is finally home, at least for now.
MK Abesadze (Kadima) said that the three musketeers of Netanyahu-Lieberman-Barak is a catastrophe. She called on Netanyahu to forget Iran and look within for once and to stop being removed from society.
MK Naffaa (Balad) said that there is racism in this government and he fears today the racist government will get stronger.
MK Braverman (Labor) said Barak has named Lieberman the de-facto prime minister of Israel. He said the government has lost its moral right to exist and will cease to exist soon. MK Avraham Balila heckled former minister Braverman, and Deputy Speaker Majadele almost threw her out after calling her to order. He thanked Netanyahu for allowing him to succeed in his post of minister of minority affairs. He concluded by saying that he believes in the future of the Labor party.
MK Peretz (Labor) said this would be the shortest speech of his life. He thanked Ehud Barak for showing Israel what corruption really is and stepped down from the podium.
MK Whbee (Kadima) said the government is corrupt. He said he doesn’t understand how a party of five seats can receive four ministries and a committee chairmanship. He noted that the coalition agreement that was signed with the 13 Labor MKs two years ago was copied and became the agreement for 5 MKs. Whbee said he can’t wait until Lieberman decides to resign and bring down the government.
MK Herzog (Labor) said he was overwhelmed with emotion on the day he was leaving his ministry. He said Barak is no Ben Gurion or Sharon. He suggested disbelievers should avoid eulogizing the Labor party and instead watch it rise once again. He said he will offer a socialist alternative to Barak and will win. He said he understands the challenge and accepts it. He wished his replacement Minister Kahlon luck on his new job.
MK Zeev (Shas) was the only coalition MK to speak. He said that in divorce court, both parties think they got the better deal when the divorce is final. He suggested that the Labor and Independence parties are both better off divorced than they were together. Zeev said that Barak showed leadership by staying in the coalition instead of giving in to his party’s demands. He said that he opposes all of the previous speakers who have spread hatred with their speeches. He asked from the bottom of his heart for the MKs to stop the incitement because we are people before we are politicians.
MK Plesner (Kadima) tried to begin his speech, but Minister Erdan heckled him. Deputy Speaker Majadele told Erdan to be quiet, but Erdan refused. MK Ben Ari got in on the action and was removed from the plenum as Deputy Speaker Majadele announced he was a proud Palestinian Israeli. Pandemonium broke out in the plenum. After a few minutes order returned.
Plesner began his speech by attacking Erdan, Labor, Barak, Independence, Likud, Lieberman, Yishai and the entire government. He eulogized the Labor party and called this discussion its funeral. He stated that Barak’s embarrassment is forcing Ben Gurion, Eshkol and Meir to turn in their graves. He charged that Netanyahu bought five seats in a corrupt bargain. He said there are two alternatives to this government Lieberman-Yishai or Kadima.
MK Ariel (N.U.) asked individually each minister present- Katz, Eitan, Margi, Neeman and others- why they are supporting Barak freezing the building in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem. He called the government a circus that is led by the ringmaster Netanyahu. He blasted Netanyahu for promising right and going left. He said Netanyahu’s yes men have their time limited because we are going to elections, and the only question left is when.
Environment Minister Erdan blasted Deputy Speaker Majadele, which caused pandemonium once again. Speaker Rivlin took control of the discussion and regained order. Erdan assured the opposition that the government will finish out the term as expected. He said the Likud has done more for the country than Kadima ever has or ever will. He called Kadima the refugees of Likud and Labor. Screaming and shouting started, and Speaker Rivlin restored order. Erdan said that Kadima is undemocratic and was founded when Sharon left the Likud and took the refugees from various parties. Screaming and shouting resumed, and Speaker Rivlin restored order. Erdan said that Barak has done more for the country than Yoel Hasson ever will. He said that the Likud never bashed Tzippi Livni for leaving the Likud and he expected Kadima to show some respect and dignity. He said the one thing that Kadima has going for them is that the press loves them. He warned Kadima they shouldn’t talk about morals because they created most of the country’s problems and the Likud is trying to fix them. Pandemonium broke out after his speech, and Speaker Rivlin took a few minutes to quiet the opposition before he started the vote.
The changes in the government were approved 53-40.
Oath of office of members of the government
At least seven Kadima MKs opened up air freshener cans and sprayed the plenum in protest of the “stinky” deal, and they were all forcefully removed from the plenum. There could have been more than seven who sprayed, but it is hard to tell because all of the Kadima MKs left the plenum to boycott the ceremony with those who were thrown out. The seven removed were MKs Yoel Hasson, Shai, Molla, Zuaretz, Abesadze, Hermesh and Whbee. Netanyahu laughed at the spectacle. Speaker Rivlin screamed at the MKs and called them an embarrassment to democracy.
Agriculture Minister Noked (Independence) was sworn in to her new position and received kisses from Speaker Rivlin and Barak following the ceremony.
Home Front Defense Minister Vilnai (Independence) was sworn in to his new position and received hugs from Speaker Rivlin and Barak.
Speaker Rivlin called for a two minute recess to allow Noked and Vilnai to receive hugs and kisses from coalition member MKs and ministers.