Archive for June, 2011


Last Tuesday’s session lasted about four hours. Four bills were discussed. One bill was advanced after passing its preliminary reading, one was advanced after passing its first reading and two bills became law after passing their third readings. The two new laws deal with expanding the Protecting the Public from Sex Offenders Bill and raising the required age until which parents must clothe and feed their children from 14 to 16. International Environment Day was recognized in the Knesset committees and in the plenum with a motion and a bill that was advanced.

                              

Non-Bills Summary

  • 13 MKs participated in the one minute speech segment that opened up the day. Diaspora Affairs Minister Edelstein responded to some of the issues highlighted in the speeches.
  • Five MKs presented queries to Science and Technology Minister Hershkowitz (J.H.) during his question hour.
  • Motions on Gilad Shalit and Jonathon Pollard were discussed and passed by votes of 11-0 and 7-1, respectively. They were sent for further discussion to the Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee.
  • International Environment Day was marked with an address to Knesset by Deputy Speaker Levi-Abekasis. A motion on the topic was discussed but not voted on.
  • Environment Minister Erdan answered five queries at the end of the session.

 

Bills Summary

Amendment to the Protecting the Public from Sex Offenders Bill

Constitution, Law and Justice Committee Chairman Rotem (Y.B.) explained the amendment would expand the definition of a sex offender to include those who create, publish or own material in which minors are doing illegal things under the current law. He noted that sexual abuse would also be added to this bill.

The bill passed its second reading 14-0.

The bill passed its third reading 14-0.

Amendment to the Penal Code Bill

Constitution, Law and Justice Committee Chairman Rotem explained the amendment would raise the age until which parents are required to clothe and feed their children from 14 to 16. He noted the punishment for not doing so is six months jail time.

The bill passed its second reading 14-0.

The bill passed its third reading 14-0.

MK Levi-Abekasis (Y.B.) thanked the Knesset for passing the last two bills, which she sponsored. She thanked the Knesset for helping protect the public from sex offenders and for protecting children from neglect.

Amendment to the Environmental Protection Bill

MK Khenin (Hadash) explained his amendment would create a national register to which all companies dealing with the release and transfer of chemicals into the environment will have to report. He said that he can’t explain the 32 pages of the bill but assured it is in the spirit of International Environment Day and Israel’s requirements from the OECD.

Environment Minister Erdan (Likud) expressed government support for the bill and praised International Environment Day.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 9-0 and was sent to the Environment Committee.

Amendment to the Banking Customer Service Bill

MK Cabel (Labor) explained his bill would prohibit the collection of early repayment charges on a mortgage during the confiscation of property. He said in other words it would forbid the banks from fining a person who couldn’t pay his mortgage and lost his house to the bank. He stressed that the bill does not apply to industrial and commercial property or those who own more than one house.

The bill passed its first reading 5-0 and was sent to the Finance Committee.

Last Monday’s session lasted about four hours. Eight bills were discussed. Six bills were advanced after passing their first readings, one was advanced after passing its preliminary reading and one bill became law after passing its third reading. Among the bills advanced is one of the largest bills in Israel’s history covering all of Israeli civil law, a bill on releasing prisoners for medical reasons and a bill that will stop the depositing of half of public workers’ vacation pay into a fund for assisting small businesses. MK Eldad opposed two bills; all of the other bills were passed unanimously. Three no-confidence motions on the state of the economy were defeated.

                                                          

Non-Bills Summary

  • Kadima’s no-confidence motion titled ‘The Netanyahu government’s failure in the economic sphere, causing price hikes in all sectors of the economy’ was defeated 26-46 with 48 MKs not present.
  • Labor and Meretz’s joint no-confidence motion titled ‘The wave of price increases, which speaks to the economy’s state’ was defeated 25-45 with 50 MKs not present.
  • Hadash, Ra’am-Ta’al and Balad’s joint no-confidence motion titled ‘The wave of price increases in the economy, specifically the rise of dairy products and the intention to raise the prices of public transportation’ was defeated 20-45 with one MK abstaining and 54 MKs not present.

 

Bills Summary

Amendment to the Disciplinary Law in the Israeli Police and Prison Service Bill

Interior and Environment Committee Chairman Cohen (Shas) explained the amendment would make four cosmetic changes to the disciplinary process for policemen and prison guards. He said that these four changes have already been implemented and should be protected within law.

The bill passed its second reading 33-0.

The bill passed its third reading 36-0.

 Amendment to the Income Tax Ordinance Bill

Deputy Finance Minister Cohen (Shas) explained the amendment would raise the tax on publicly traded companies.

MK Ben Ari (N.U.) told the public not to fear September, the month the Palestinians will bring their statehood bid to the United Nations, nor the so-called September experts, who have resorted to scare tactics because they openly endorse the creation of a Palestinian state.

The bill passed its first reading 22-0 and was sent to the Funds Committee.

Amendment to the Economic Efficiency Implementing the Economic Program for 2009 and 2010 Bill

Deputy Finance Minister Cohen explained the amendment would extend certain programs for an additional six months so they would now expire at the end of 2011.

MK Ben Ari stated that the Jewish organization JOINT is giving grants to the illegal immigrants to return to Sudan and start a business there. He warned this would encourage more illegal immigration.

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

Offering Assistance Fund to Companies in Distress Bill

Funds Committee Chairman Gafni (U.T.J.) explained his bill would stop the current situation where public workers are only paid for half of their vacation days while the money for the other half is collected in a fund to assist small businesses. He noted that no one has benefited from that fund except the finance ministry and, therefore, it should be abolished. He said he hoped to bring the second part of the bill in which the workers are returned their money when the coalition falls apart.

Deputy Finance Minister Cohen noted that the fund had been collecting this money since 2009 and the government agrees to stop collecting money for the fund.

Temporary Order Repealing a Partial Payment of Vacation Pay in the Civil Service in 2010 Bill

Deputy Finance Minister Cohen explained the government bill is very similar to Gafni’s bill and that the two bills will be merged together for discussion in committee. He thanked the public workers for the NIS 600 million the government collected for the fund while it was operational.

MK Adatto (Kadima) criticized the fact that the fund was taken from the public sector and not from the private sector. She wondered why the workers union agreed to such an arrangement where NIS 600 million was taken and no one has any idea where the money went.

MK Molla (Kadima) accused the government of zigzagging on yet another bill which they created and are now trying to abolish. He stated that not one company received money from the fund and that the finance ministry enjoyed it and no one has any idea where the money went.

MK Zeev (Shas) asked Molla why every time he gets up to the podium he is screaming and attacking. He suggested that Molla thank the government when they recognize a mistake and try to fix it. He rejected the accusations that the government purposely stole money from its workers and said it was a simple honest mistake and a misunderstanding among a few government ministries. He suggested using the NIS 600 million to build more homes for the poor.

The first bill passed its preliminary reading 21-0 and was sent to the Funds Committee.

The second bill passed its first reading 22-0 and was sent to the Funds Committee.

Civil Law Bill

Justice Minister Neeman explained that this bill has been in the works since the formation of the State in the late 1940s. He said this bill will bring all of the civil laws under one roof and will replace all existing laws from the Ottoman Empire and the British Mandate. He said most of the work on this bill was done between 1968 and 1986 by Neeman’s former Hebrew University professor. He noted the bill contains over a thousand laws which range from inheritance to adoption to contracts. He stated this bill creates the infrastructure to provide an answer in every case that deals with money. He thanked the dozens of former judges who worked on this bill over the last 60 years. He said the law was written in the spirit of the past leaders of Jewish law: the Rambam, Baal Haturim and Rabbi Yosef Caro. He concluded that this bill is another building block in Israeli law independence from previous systems.

MK Eldad (N.U.) said that it is impossible for the 120 MKs to vote on a bill that weighs more than they do when they only had a few hours to read it. He stated he has to vote against this bill because he has no idea what all of the thousand laws are that he is voting on. He mentioned that he was worried that this bill had many hidden laws that might be problematic and stressed he had to vote against it in its first reading.

MK Zeev confessed that he is voting on something he has no clue about but coalition discipline requires that of him. He praised the connection of the Jewish law to this new Israeli bill, which, he was told, was quite significant in many of the new laws.

MK Wilf (Independence) called on the public to read the bill and to find the problematic aspects of it and to report it to their MKs.

Constitution, Law and Justice Committee Chairman Rotem (Y.B.) said this is perhaps the most important bill to hit the Knesset floor this term. He slammed Neeman for expecting his committee to wrap up this bill quickly when it took 60 years for the Justice Ministry to write it. He stressed his committee is not equipped to deal with preparing this bill for the next reading without years of work. He announced that every Sunday and Thursday until the end of the tern his committee will discuss this bill and hopefully it will be passed at some point this decade.

MK Michaeli (Shas) asked Neeman why he didn’t give the MKs more time to read the bill. He told Rotem that he doesn’t plan on attending committee meetings every Sunday and Thursday and that he thinks Rotem will be sitting alone for all of those meetings. He called on Rotem to have a Jewish law expert there for every session to give his opinion on every Israeli law proposal that doesn’t follow Jewish law.

Minister Neeman said he agreed with the principle behind what the five speakers brought up. He asked the Knesset to pass the bill in its first reading and to let the Law Committee do its work.

The bill passed its first reading 11-1 and was sent to the Law Committee.

Amendment to the Parole from Prison Bill

Justice Minister Neeman explained the amendment would expand the authority of the parole board that authorizes a prisoner release for medical reasons. He said that prisoners that are in the hospital awaiting their death should no longer be designated as prisoners since they will never return to prison and the country wastes resources on them, such as security detail.

MK Eldad warned Neeman is setting a new standard for releasing prisoners that the public no longer has an interest in keeping. He stressed that is a dangerous precedent that will lead to public interest releasing prisoners for a wide range of reasons. He slammed the bill that also allows security prisoners and terrorists to be released through this new law.

MK Zeev supported the bill and said for humanitarian reasons dying people should be released. He praised Neeman and attacked Eldad. He suggested reinstating the prison warden as a member of the parole board since he knows the prisoners best. He wondered why wardens have been demoted to observers.

The bill passed its first reading 7-1 and was sent to the Justice Committee.

Amendment to the National Parks, Nature Reserves, National Sites and Memorial Sites Bill

Environment Minister Erdan (Likud) explained the bill would increase the term limit, currently one term of four years, on the National Parks, Nature Reserves, National Sites and Memorial Sites Council. He said the bill will allow members of the council to be reelected twice and serve three terms.

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

Last Wednesday’s session lasted about nine and a half hours. 18 bills were discussed. Nine bills were advanced after passing their preliminary readings, seven bills were turned into motions to avoid defeat and two bills were defeated. The many bills advanced address placing sanctions on Israeli companies that work with Iran, sentencing security prisoners to the remainder of their previous term if they were released during a prisoner swap, presenting awards for corruption whistleblowers, forcing local authorities to paint their curbs before collecting money from drivers, allowing former army officers to teach in schools while collecting their pension and dividing up a husband’s pension in divorce settlements, among other things. MK Tirosh (Kadima) gave Prime Minister Netanyahu a container of cottage cheese during the 40-MK signature session as Netanyahu ate wafers. The European Parliament President addressed the Knesset in Polish.

 

Non-Bills Summary

  • Minister Begin (Likud), Deputy Finance Minister Cohen (Shas) and Environment Minister Erdan (Likud) answered urgent queries at the beginning of the session.
  • European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek was welcomed with a warm speech by Speaker Rivlin. Buzek addressed the plenum in Polish.
  • The Knesset brought in Prime Minister Netanyahu to speak on the subject of “The Netanyahu government’s failure in the political, economic and social sectors” by the mandate of 40 MKs’ signatures. 16 MKs spoke before Prime Minister Netanyahu, and Opposition Leader Livni spoke after him. The Knesset accepted Netanyahu’s speech by a vote of 37-25.
  • Six motions were discussed and sent to various committees for further discussion by the votes 11-1, 7-0, 7-0, 6-0, 5-0 and 4-0.

Bills Summary

Amendment to the Rabbinical Courts Bill

MK Orlev (J.H.) explained his amendment would strengthen restraining orders and sanctions on those refusing divorce and the supervision of the implementation of the court decisions in that regard.

Minister Begin (Likud) expressed government support for the bill. He recalled when he had to step in as a judge and how much it bothered him to wear a jacket and tie.

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

Amendment to the Traffic Ordinance Bill

MK Orbach (J.H.) explained his amendment would place the duty of marking curbs within municipal boundaries on the local authorities. He explained that if the local authority doesn’t paint the curbs red and white or blue and white it will not be able to collect money or fines from drivers in that area. He stressed the cities must spend money on paint if they want to put their hand into the drivers’ wallets.

Transportation Minister Katz (Likud) expressed government support for the bill.

MK Tibi (R.T.) objected to the bill on the grounds that the government isn’t living up to their responsibilities towards the transportation infrastructure for the Israeli-Arab towns.

MK Hotovely (Likud) defended the bill and said this will prevent cities from fining or charging drivers in cases where there is no paint on the curbs.

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

Amendment to the Prohibiting Investment in Corporations that Maintain a Business Relationship with Iran Bill

MK Shama (Likud) explained his amendment would prohibit all Israeli companies from having any communication with the Iranian government or Iranian companies. He said that Israel must place the same sanctions on Israelis that contact Iran as the Americans already have. He said the punishment includes fines of millions of shekels and jail time.

Deputy Finance Minister Cohen (Shas) expressed government support for the bill on the preliminary reading but said Shama will have to wait for government support on the bill’s next steps.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 24-0 and was sent to the Finance Committee.

Amendment to the Terms of Release from Imprisonment to Probation Bill

MK Danon (Likud) explained his amendment would require security prisoners who committed crimes for nationalistic reasons and were released in a prisoner swap and who return to terrorism to finish their first sentence before starting their second. He announced that he is pulling the bill because the government wants to expand it.

Minister Begin expressed government support for the bill and asked Danon not to pull it. He said the government will advance a larger-scale bill later but it is important to send a message to the prisoners by passing this bill now.

MK Tibi objected to the bill on the grounds that all security prisoners should be released at once. He suggested releasing all the Arabs from prison in return for Gilad Shalit. He warned Danon not to try the Palestinian prisoners because they will fight back.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 17-9 and was sent to the Justice Committee.

Amendment to the Local Authorities Elections Funding Bill

MK Gafni (U.T.J.) explained his amendment would place the financial responsibility of joint electoral party factions on the biggest party and not the others in local elections. He noted the government has no opinion on the bill because it is an internal party matter.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 24-0 and was sent to the Interior Committee.

Amendment to the Career Service in the Israel Defense Forces Bill

MK Haim Katz (Likud) explained his amendment would allow army retirees to teach in schools and still be eligible for their army pensions.

Education Minister Sa’ar (Likud) expressed government support for the bill and said this will improve the quality of teachers in the schools.

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

Dividing Pension Rights between Couples Bill

MK Gal-On (Meretz) explained her original bill would divide the pension of the husband so that the wife receives half of it in a divorce settlement.

Deputy Finance Minister Cohen expressed government support for the bill.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 26-0 and was sent to the Welfare Committee.

Herding Bill

MK Hermesh (Kadima) explained his original bill would cover every law necessary for shepherds including territory, animal rights, natural resources, arguments between shepherds and more. He concluded by saying that, as a farmer, he knows that you can make a profit on cottage cheese at 5 shekels and that 8 shekels is ridiculous.

Agriculture Minister Noked (Independence) expressed government support for the bill.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 30-1 and was sent to the Finance Committee. MK Tirosh (Kadima) voted against the bill.

Amendment to the Encouraging Public Service Integrity Bill

MK Yoel Hasson (Kadima) explained his amendment would grant authority to the President of Israel to give a certificate of appreciation to those who reveal corruption. He praised corruption whistleblowers and called on more of them to come forth. He concluded by calling the three cottage cheese companies a cartel and called on the entire public to boycott their products.

Minister Begin expressed government support for the bill. He disagreed with Hasson’s cartel remark and warned him to be careful with what he says on the Knesset podium.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 38-0 and was sent to the State Control Committee.

Motion/Amendment to the Social Security Bill

MK Adatto (Kadima) explained her amendment would lower the social security payments of students who are studying medicine in an institution of higher education abroad to the level of those who are studying medicine in Israel. She said that today those who learn abroad pay two and a half times more than those who learn here. She noted only about 1,500 students would be affected by this bill.

Labor and Welfare Minister Kahlon (Likud) said he agrees in principle with the bill but explained it was written vaguely and could cause problems of discrimination. He suggested turning the bill into a motion in order to discuss it further in committee. Adatto agreed.

The motion passed 38-0 and was sent to the Welfare Committee.

Motion/Amendment to the Security Agency Bill

MK Bibi (Kadima) explained his amendment would require a criminal record check before assigning someone to the Border Police.

Intelligence Minister Meridor (Likud) expressed government opposition to the bill and suggested turning the bill into a motion. Bibi agreed.

The motion passed 46-0 and was sent to the Defense Committee.

Amendment to the Traffic Ordinance Amendment Bill

MK Tiviaev (Kadima) explained his amendment would prohibit the sale of cars that don’t have a seatbelt alert. He added that the duty of installing an audio alert for the driver’s and front passenger’s seatbelt will be placed on the owner of the car. He noted that 12,500 people have been injured over the last eight years because they didn’t wear their seatbelts and that 80% of those accidents occurred in urban areas. He suggested the ministers place their citizens’ lives over politics and support the bill. He placed responsibility for every death that could have been saved by a seatbelt solely on the Israeli government.

Transportation Minister Katz explained that the manufacturers don’t place such alerts on cars sent to Israel and there is a financial aspect to passing such a bill. He said that he supports the bill but the government is opposed to it. He mentioned that even if this law was passed it doesn’t mean that people would listen to the alert and buckle up. He suggested turning the bill into a motion.

MK Tiviaev stressed that 40-50 people die each year because they didn’t buckle up and he places the blame for those deaths on the Israeli government. He rejected the offer to turn the bill into motion.

Transportation Minister Katz asked once again that Tiviaev turn the bill into a motion.

MK Tiviaev rejected the offer for a second time and told the government to accept some responsibility.

The bill was defeated 22-32.

Motion/Amendment to the Criminal Procedure Bill

MK Solodkin (Kadima) explained her amendment would place a prohibition on interrogations and investigations of a suspect at night. She said that these methods are causing innocent people to sign confession papers under duress and she hoped this bill will fix that. She equated current Israeli techniques with those used by the former Soviet Union.

Minister Begin said he agreed in principle with the bill and asked Solodkin if she was willing to turn the bill into a motion. He expressed government opposition to the bill but did not specify why.  Solodkin agreed.

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

Amendment to the Benefits for Prisoners of Zion and their Families Bill

Labor and Welfare Minister Kahlon explained Solodkin’s amendment would offer an annual grant to the Zion prisoners, who were imprisoned and exiled by the Soviet Union, and said it was a great bill. He agreed that something should be done for the 800 prisoners and asked Solodkin to turn the bill into a motion until the bill receives government support.

MK Solodkin thanked the government for supporting the principle but refused to turn the bill into a motion or to wait for government support before resubmitting her bill.

The bill was defeated 12-24.

Minister Noked voted for the bill though the government opposed it. Deputy Speaker Akunis (Likud) informed Minister Noked that if she voted against the government position she would be automatically fired according to law and suggested she state she voted incorrectly. Noked said she voted incorrectly and was not fired.

Two Motions/Amendments to the Social Security Bill

MK Gilon (Meretz) explained his amendment would grant all people on disability welfare a pension. He said the average welfare a handicapped person receives per month is NIS 2,210. He said his bill would also raise the maximum monthly welfare payment from NIS 2,503 to NIS 3,560.

MK Khenin (Hadash) praised Gilon and explained his similar bill would also help disabled people. He said his bill would double the welfare payment for the disabled and raise it even more for those who don’t have jobs.

Labor and Welfare Minister Kahlon expressed government opposition to the bills on the grounds that they would cost six billion shekels to implement. He suggested turning the bills into motions in order to examine whether there are people who really can’t work and, if so, what extra money they should receive.

MK Gilon confessed he didn’t think the government would find the budget for his bill. He stressed the current situation is unacceptable and agreed to turn the bill into a motion. He stressed a mandatory pension is needed to protect the disabled after retirement age.

MK Khenin agreed to turn his bill into a motion as well and to merge it with Gilon’s.

The two motions passed 11-0 and were sent to the Welfare Committee.

Amendment to the Tenders Bill

MK Swaid (Hadash) explained his amendment would introduce affirmative action in order for the Arab population to have representation in government tenders of the high-tech industry. He said the current affirmative action for Arabs doesn’t include high-tech and that is discrimination. He called on the government to find high quality jobs for the Arab population.

Deputy Finance Minister Cohen expressed government opposition to the bill on the grounds that government tenders are not a place for affirmative action. He said the point of a tender is to find the best company for the job. He added that this bill would discriminate against other minority groups. He asked if Swaid would turn the bill into a motion, and Swaid agreed. MK Rotem (Y.B.) added this bill is racist against anyone who isn’t Arab.

The motion passed 8-2 and was sent to the Finance Committee.

Amendment to the Council for Higher Education Bill

MK Ganaim (R.T.) explained his amendment would abolish the minimum age for studying certain subjects, such as medicine, which now stands at 19. He said he saw no reason why someone who graduates high school at a young age would have to wait until he is 19 to learn certain subjects. He noted that students in most democratic countries start college at 17 or 18 and he didn’t understand where the number 19 came from.

Education Minister Sa’ar expressed government opposition to the bill and said that most democratic countries only allow medicine and other studies as a second degree and students are therefore well over the age of 19. He said that some kids are too immature to deal with complicated situations and it is worth it to make them wait until they mature. He suggested turning the bill into a motion, and Ganaim agreed.

The motion passed 8-0 and was sent to the Education Committee.

Three polls show Kadima leading Likud and exactly who would lose from the return of formerly jailed Shas leader Aryeh Deri. In the first scenario, in which Deri stays out of politics, Likud would receive 26 seats and hold a narrow 63-seat conservative coalition consisting of Liberman and the religious parties.

In scenario two Deri leads Shas to 14 seats (four more than if he stays out of politics) and could either join Netanyahu for a 65-seat coalition or join Livni for a 57-seat minority government coalition relying on the Arab parties for support. Deri’s four-seat gain from the first scenario comes at the expense of Kadima (two seats), Yisrael Beitenu and Likud.

In the third scenario Deri starts his own party and runs as a separate entity to the left of Shas creating a 51-seat leftist block compared to the 57-seat right block. This scenario would make it impossible for Netanyahu to form a coalition, and his Likud party would have 24 seats compared to Kadima’s 29. In this scenario the nine-seat Deri party comes at the expense of two Kadima seats, two Likud seats, two Shas seats, one Yisrael Beitenu seat, one Meretz seat and, surprisingly, one National Union seat.

_______________________________________________________________________

Telephone poll of a representative sample of adult Israelis (including Arab Israelis) carried out by Dahaf for Yediot Achronot the week of 24 June and published on 24 June 2011

If elections held today, expressed in Knesset seats [current seats in brackets]

26 25 24 [27] Likud
31 29 29 [28] Kadima
14 13 13 [15] Yisrael Beiteinu
10 10 10 [08] Labor
10  — 08 [11] Shas headed by Yishai
—  14 —  [11] Shas headed by Deri
—  —  09 [---] Deri Party
06 06 06 [05] Yahadut Hatorah/UTJ
03 03 03 [03] Jewish Home/NRP
04 04 03 [04] National Union
04 04 03 [03] Meretz
12 12 12 [11] Arab parties
00 00 00 [05] Ehud Barak’s Independence Party

Last Tuesday’s session lasted about two hours. One bill was discussed and advanced after passing in its first reading. The bill prohibits local authority general managers from being elected to serve as mayor or on the city council within 30 months of their service. Speaker Rivlin broke from the government position and opposed the bill on the grounds that the bill was directed at a certain individual.

 

Non-Bill Summary

  • 17 MKs and Minister Begin (Likud) took part in the one minute speech segment and spoke on a wide variety of topics.
  • Six MKs asked queries to Agriculture Minister Noked (Independence)
  • House Committee Chairman Levin (Likud) announced that MK Whbee (Kadima) will replace MK Gal-On (Meretz) in the Funds Committee and that MK Gal-On will become a permanent substitute in the same committee. He also announced which disputed bills will be discussed in which Knesset committees.

 

Bill Summary

Amendment to the Local Authorities Elections Bill                

MK Miller (Y.B.) explained his amendment would prohibit a local authority general manager (director general) from being elected to serve as mayor or on the city council within 30 months of his resignation or termination from service. He explained that the position is too powerful to allow someone to jump from managing the city to making the decisions on the city without taking some time off.

Speaker Rivlin charged that this bill was tailor made to prevent a certain person from running for mayor. Miller denied the charge that this was a personal bill directed at a certain person. Speaker Rivlin announced he wasn’t convinced and that he would break from the government and oppose the bill.

The bill passed its first reading 11-2 and was sent to the Interior Committee.

Last Monday’s session lasted about three hours. Two bills were discussed, and both were advanced after passing their first readings. Prime Minister Netanyahu was in Italy, so the opposition did not propose any no-confidence motions, which resulted in a low attendance for the short session. The two bills advanced place limitations on subsidiaries of manpower contractors and regulate the supervision and discipline of corporate managers who deal with portfolios and funds.

 

Non-Bills Summary

  • Five motions were discussed. Four of the motions were sent for further discussion in the various committees by votes of 10-1, 7-2, 7-1 and 6-0. One of the motions was not voted on.

 

Bills Summary

Amendment to the Manpower Contractors Employment Bill

MK Yacimovich (Labor) called the employees of manpower companies the weakest link in terms of workers’ rights and salaries. She stated that the subsidiaries that the manpower contractors use to recruit these workers are even worse. She explained that her amendment would place a prohibition of communication on these subsidiaries and those violating the law will be sentenced to six months in prison. She explained that both companies currently take a portion of the employee’s salary so that he currently receives NIS 20.92 for an hour’s work, less than minimum wage, without a minimum of monthly hours.

MK Ezra (Kadima) agreed the problem is with the secondary companies piggybacking on the mother manpower contractors and praised the bill. He hoped that the bill will start the process of eliminating these secondary companies.

MK Ben Ari (N.U.) revealed that over a million workers are employed by manpower contractors and that he is worried that in a majority of these companies the employees are not receiving their rights, such as seniority and pension. He blasted universities for playing the same game with temporary professors and firing and rehiring other professors every eight months. He reported that other big companies such as large banks play the same game as manpower contractors. He suggested placing a cap on the number of employees the contractors are allowed to hire. He concluded that he trusts the manpower contractors will find a new loophole after we plug this one.

MK Zeev (Shas) said that most companies have no idea the games the manpower contractors play and those companies should not be held responsible for the contractors’ faults.

The bill passed its first reading 4-0 and was sent to the Labor Committee.

Amendment to the Corporate Fund Managers and Portfolio Managers Governance Bill

MK Amnon Cohen (Shas) explained that the amendment would regulate the supervision and discipline of corporate government managers that deal with portfolios and funds. He explained there are seven main changes in the bill and some of them will affect private corporate company managers that have indirect connections to government companies or are listed on the various stock exchanges. He stated the point of the bill is to bring government transparency and to protect the investors in the stock exchange.

MK Ben Ari said he is more familiar with Chinese than the implications of this bill. He went on to oppose daylight savings time. He said that he received hundreds of text messages supporting his view including some very important people after his speech last week on the subject. He stressed that he is supporting the will of almost half of Israel who oppose extending the summer clock.

MK Zeev defended Interior Minister Yishai (Shas), who extended the summer clock for a mere two weeks and not the six weeks that the leftists asked for. He went on to praise the bill that will give investors a reason to invest in Israeli companies. He slammed companies that are about to collapse and are lying to everyone about their financial stability and said this bill will put an end to them and those who invest in them.

The bill passed its first reading 5-0 and was sent to the Funds Committee.

The June 6 session lasted about five hours. It was the only work day of the week for the Knesset because of the Jewish holiday of Shavuot, which was celebrated from Tuesday to Wednesday night. I bet most of you wish you could have a five-hour work week like the one the MKs enjoyed that week. Eleven bills were discussed, and four of those bills became law after passing their third readings. Three bills were advanced after passing their first readings, and four bills were advanced after passing their preliminary readings. The highlight of the new laws was the raising of the minimum wage in two stages, the first of which will take place on July 1st. The highlight bill that was advanced was the extension of daylight savings time to 193 days per year.

                                                                        

Non-Bills Summary

  • Kadima’s no-confidence motion titled ‘The Prime Minister of Israel increases the gap, hurting the middle class sections of the population’ was defeated 35-45 with 40 MKs not present for the vote.
  • Labor and Meretz’s joint no-confidence motion titled ‘The government’s failure to reduce the gaps between rich and poor’ was defeated 35-45 with 40 MKs not present for the vote.
  • Hadash, Balad and Ra’am-Ta’al’s joint no-confidence motion titled ‘The basic commodities prices is yet another government failure in the social, economic and political sectors’ was defeated 28-42 with one MK abstaining and 49 MKs not present for the vote.
  • Speaker Rivlin gave a warm welcome to the U.S. Congressional delegation who were visiting the Knesset and watching the no-confidence motions.
  • House Committee Chairman Levin (Likud) reported on which disputed bills would go to which committees and subcommittees. The Knesset approved the report with a 24-0 vote.
  • A motion on the words of former Mossad chief Meir Dagan and the reactions to his words was discussed by three MKs and summarized by Minister Begin (Likud). The motion ended with a 3-3 vote. The tie went to the government position of defeating the motion.

 

 

Bills Summary

Temporary Order Amendment to the Minimum Wage Bill

Labor, Welfare and Health Committee Chairman Katz (Likud) explained that the amendment would raise the minimum wage. He reported that this July 1 the minimum wage would increase from NIS 3,890.18 per month to NIS 4,100, and on October 1, 2012, it will increase again to NIS 4,300.

MK Gilon (Meretz) noted that New Zealand was the first country to pass a minimum wage bill and was also the first country to give women the right to vote. He argued that it is more important to pass a bill that raises the minimum wage based on a percentage of the average wage and not a flat sum. He stated that NIS 4,300 is nothing when you have to pay NIS 3,000 for rent. He called for a return to socialism.

MK Barakeh (Hadash) said the bill is too little too late. He also spoke in support of percentages and not flat sums. He stated it is the government’s responsibility to protect the poor’s interest and this government hasn’t done that and aren’t doing it with this bill. He reported that 32.8% of government workers receive minimum wage, compared to 29.1% a few years ago. He warned the government to listen to the poor’s suffering or they will be replaced.

MK Swaid (Hadash) stated that the average price of an apartment is NIS 1.25 million and minimum wage workers make about NIS 50,000 annually, meaning that it takes 25 years to pay for a house if you make minimum wage. He explained that his objection would increase the annual minimum wage to NIS 60,000 annually so it would only take 20 years to pay for a house. He asked what is the point of joining the OECD if Israel doesn’t help its citizens. He blasted the capitalistic policies of the Netanyahu government that he said come at the expense of the poor.

MK Khenin (Hadash) stated that minimum wage is all about social justice, workers rights, workers equality and assisting minorities and the weak. He attacked those who opposed raising minimum wage and prolonging the poverty of the poor.

MK Agbaria (Hadash) said the government is adjusting the minimum wage and not raising it. He said the poor people are fighting for their survival and need more money. He slammed the government for raising prices of real estate, gas and basic food products. He charged there are more rich people and more poor people and the middle class is the one suffering. He warned that 20 families control most of the country’s money and that it is a dangerous thing. He noted that the government finds money for defense and infrastructure but not for raising the minimum wage.

Labor, Welfare and Health Committee Chairman Katz agreed with those who gave their objections. He said that he sympathizes with Gilon and the four members of the Hadash party, but suggested they vote in favor of the bill anyway and at least raise the minimum wage a little bit. Gilon agreed to remove his objection, but Hadash didn’t.

Hadash’s objections were defeated 14-32, 15-34, 15-34, 14-35 and 14-35.

The bill’s paragraphs passed their second readings 53-0, 53-0 and 52-0.

The bill passed its third reading 54-0.

Three Amendments to the Daylight Savings Time End Date Bill

MK Horowitz (Meretz) explained that daylight savings time is a great thing for the economy and it should last as long as possible. He announced his bill would extend daylight savings time.

MK Shamalov Berkovich (Kadima) spoke in the name of MK Tirosh (Kadima) and thanked the Knesset for adding her similar bill to the other bills. She explained that Tirosh’s son is getting married today so she couldn’t attend.

MK Itzik (Kadima) thanked MK Orlev (J.H.) for helping her to receive government support for this bill and the two similar bills that were presented before her.

Interior Minister Yishai (Shas) said he is open-minded and flexible when it comes to extending daylight savings time. He spoke about the committee he appointed, which came to the conclusion that the summer clock should be extended and mentioned that not everybody agreed with the conclusion. He quoted a Mina Tzemach poll that showed that 46% of Israelis want to keep the summer clock the way it is or shorten it. He confessed that he actually prefers a longer summer clock. He expressed government support for the three bills and said that daylight savings time will be 193 days each year.

MK Ben Ari (N.U.) objected to the bill. He stated that the summer has more hours of daylight than the winter. He said that daylight savings time hurts the children because you can’t wake them up when it is still dark. He said that it causes problems between parents and children and is not a natural thing. He stressed it is important to sleep during the night and be awake during the day, something that daylight savings time ruins.

MK Orlev (J.H.) responded that an extra hour to spend time in the evening with the kids is more important than the hour of sleep they lose in the morning. He called on everyone to support the bill.

The first bill passed its preliminary reading 20-1 and was sent to the Interior Committee.

The second bill passed its preliminary reading 21-0 and was sent to the Interior Committee.

The third bill passed its preliminary reading 21-0 and was sent to the Interior Committee.

Amendment to the Prisoner Rehabilitation Authority Bill

Interior and Environment Committee Chairman Cohen (Shas) explained the bill would list the acceptable disciplinary actions that the authority can use on its own employees.

The bill passed its second reading 9-0.

The bill passed its third reading 9-0.

Amendment to the Preventing the Hiring of Sex Offenders in Certain Institutions Bill

Women’s Rights Committee Chairwoman Hotovely (Likud) explained the bill that she sponsored will expand the types and number of institutions that are prevented from hiring sex offenders. She listed that among the new places are mental institutions, handicap facilities and any place where minors study or work. She added that the bill will also add the possession of pedophilic photographs and other media under the serious sex offenses that prevent those criminals from working in the various institutions under the bill. She concluded that the bill will take effect in six months to give time for the new institutions included in the bill to dismiss those who will no longer be allowed.

The bill passed its second reading 9-0.

The bill passed its third reading 9-0.

Amendment to the Value Added Tax Bill

Funds Committee Chairman Gafni (U.T.J.) explained that the bill will allow small and medium businesses (under annual turnover of NIS 15 million) to delay paying VAT to the State until they receive their VAT money from the consumer. He explained this will put an end to the situation where the small businesses pay the government VAT payments on a transaction before the business receives that payment.

The bill passed its second reading 12-0.

The bill passed its third reading 11-0.

MK Miller (Y.B.) thanked the Knesset for supporting the bill and for helping save thousands of small businesses.

Amendment to the Income Tax Ordinance Bill

Deputy Finance Minister Cohen (Shas) explained that the bill would allow a temporary extension for the tax year of 2010 of the exemption from the national financial reporting standards.

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

Two Amendments to the Bezeq and Broadcasts Communications Bill                         

Communications Minister Kahlon (Likud) explained that the amendment would limit the consumer’s payment to the communication companies during the cancellation of an agreement and in most cases eliminates the cancellation payment outright. He noted that a previous bill did the same for cell phone companies and now it will be expanded to all communication companies. He added that the bill prohibits charging a cancellation fee for equipment from the television, internet or cell phone companies.

MK Shamalov Berkovich (Kadima) praised Minister Kahlon as the most productive minister in the current government.  She said she subscribes to the slogan ‘the customer is always right’. She told the public not to lose faith in the political system because things do get done. She concluded by calling today a holiday celebration for the public.

MK Akunis (Likud) explained that his similar amendment will add the prohibition of cancellation fees to satellite and cable television companies.

Communications Minister Kahlon expressed government support for the second bill as well.

The first bill passed its preliminary reading 12-0 and was sent to the House Committee to determine which committee will discuss the bill further.

The second bill passed its first reading 12-0 and was sent to the House Committee to determine which committee will discuss the bill further.

Amendment to the Equal Opportunities Bill

Child’s Rights Committee Chairman Orlev explained that the amendment will give both parents the rights that are currently given to only one parent under the bill.

The bill passed its first reading 6-0 and was sent to the Women’s Rights Committee.

You can catch my latest Knesset radio interview sometime between midnight and 2 AM Israeli time on Galei Israel 102.5FM in Jerusalem, 106.5 in Tel Aviv and 89.3FM in the South

I will be catching up and posting more updates real soon.

For those of you who missed my midnight interview on Galai Yisrael I have the link to the show. I am the first guest on the second hour. Check it out.

http://www.archive.org/details/TheRealintactivists

The first session of June lasted about six hours. Five bills were discussed. Two bills were advance after passing in their preliminary readings, two were defeated and one bill was pulled to avoid defeat. The two bills that were advanced will require warranty stickers on items that would ultimately require repair and give soldiers who complete their mandatory service an academic aid package for learning in Jerusalem. The latter bill was a fitting one to celebrate Jerusalem Day.

 

Non-Bills Summary

  • National Infrastructure Minister Landau (Y.B.), Interior Minister Yishai (Shas), Homeland Security Minister Aharonovitch (Y.B.) and Education Minister Sa’ar (Likud) answered urgent queries.
  • Speaker Rivlin, Prime Minister Netanyahu and Opposition Leader Livni gave speeches marking Jerusalem Day.
  • Five motions were discussed on the hot topics of the day. Two were not voted on. The other three were sent for further discussion in the Knesset committees by votes of 16-0, 5-1 and 10-0.

 

Bills Summary

Amendment to the Consumer Protection Bill

MK Itzik (Kadima) explained that her amendment would require a warranty responsibility sticker on all items that require repair. She noted that many people lose the warranty slip that they are supposed to mail in. As a result the companies don’t honor the warranties and the consumer is required to pay for any repairs even if it is within the warranty period. She hoped that the sticker on the product will help people not to lose their warranties and protect the consumers.

The government did not send a representative to express their opinion.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 30-0 and was sent to the House Committee to decide which committee should discuss the bill.

Amendment to the Veterans Absorption Bill

MK Orlev (J.H.) explained that his amendment would include Jerusalem in the aid package that veterans receive after finishing their mandatory military service. He explained the aid package would include discounts in enrollment to all recognized Jerusalem academic institutions. He noted that a similar bill passed last year does the same thing for Judea, Samaria, the Galil, the Negev and the Golan. He noted that his bill’s aid package does not include housing due to the 12% increase in Jerusalem real estate prices over the last year. He concluded by wishing the soldiers in the gallery a happy Jerusalem Day.

Deputy Minister Gamliel (Likud) wished everyone a happy Jerusalem Day and quoted passages from the bible. She praised the bill and expressed government support. She hoped that this bill will give a shot in the arm to Jerusalem’s academia, assist in decreasing the emigration of Jerusalem’s secular population and community and raise the number of academics in the city, which she said would ultimately reduce the number living below the poverty level. She stated the budget for the bill will be NIS 25 million. She praised Jerusalem Mayor Barkat for breaking the Guinness record for biggest flag. She incorrectly stated that Students Day was last week when, in fact, Students Day is the same day as Jerusalem Day.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 50-0 and was sent to the Labor Committee.

Social Housing in Central Israel Bill

MK Solodkin (Kadima) explained that her amendment would require the country to purchase 5% of every housing project in the center of the country. The bill requires the country to designate that 5% for public housing. She regretted that co-sponsor MK Regev (Likud) was bullied into not showing up for the vote. She expressed hope that this would shorten the list of the tens of thousands of families who are on the waiting list for public housing. She blasted former Prime Minister Barak and the Labor-Meretz government of 1999, which ended the public housing project that was only recently revived by selling off most of the public houses the country owned.

Housing and Construction Minister Atias (Shas) expressed government opposition to the bill on the grounds that the bill goes too far. He noted that in order to qualify for public housing the combined income of the household must be below NIS 5,400 per month. He stated that about 2,000 families are in line for public housing and not the 10,000 that Solodkin spoke about. He stressed that he spent NIS 400 million in 2010 on public housing and that he has NIS 150 million to spend on purchasing public housing units in 2011 and 2012. He added that he is creating 5,000 rooms in hostels to serve as temporary housing until the public housing units are ready. He mentioned that he provides NIS 1.3 billion to subsidize part of the rent for over 137,000 families and that each family receives between NIS 660 and NIS 2,200 a month.

MK Solodkin slammed Atias and said that the 2,000 in line are Israelis. She said 60,000 immigrants are waiting in line according to the aliyah ministry.

The bill was defeated 23-39.

Amendment to the Family Courts Bill

MK Horowitz (Meretz) explained that his amendment would require the family courts to treat same sex families the same as other families and to hear all their cases. He said that the current situation is that sometimes you fall on a judge who hears the case and sometimes the judge throws it out. He demanded the courts deal with gay couples’ cases regarding inheritance, alimony and violence within their family unit. He asked the Knesset recognize all gay marriages, including his own. He confessed that the courts hear 90% of the cases but asked that all cases be heard, including those in which one of the partners denies his homosexuality or suddenly becomes straight in order to get out of the responsibility towards his partner.

Minister Begin noted that 18 years ago there was no such thing as a family court and that it is very much still a work in progress. He said that 90% isn’t bad and that the government is against forcing a person to remain gay if he decides that he wants to change his sexual preference. He stated that one day it might be 100% of the cases but this won’t be the government to do that.

MK Horowitz thanked Begin for not avoiding the answer and expressed hope that one day this bill will pass in the Knesset. He said that he was encouraged by Begin not saying anything negative. He stated that he is proudly openly gay and that he is proud to represent his community, which makes up 15% of the population if you include gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transsexuals. He promised that his community will fight inside the Knesset and outside of it and the community will be heard by everyone very soon.

The bill was defeated 12-34.

Jubilee Grant for Teachers of Immigrants Bill

MK Miller (Y.B.) explained that his amendment would give immigrant teachers the tenure (salary 13) that Israeli teachers receive after 25 years of service regardless of whether those years were in Israel or outside of it. He noted there are fewer than 5,000 teachers who would be added to the salary 13 teachers, a total cost of less than NIS 25 million. He explained that in the current situation a computer teacher with 15 years of experience immigrates to the country and chooses hi-tech because he doesn’t want to start from scratch in the education system and in hi-tech he will receive more money. He revealed that he was informed by the government that they would oppose this bill if brought for a vote.  He reached a deal with them that he would pull the bill and negotiate with the government for two weeks about changing parts of it.

The last May session lasted about two and a half hours. No bills were discussed. Two motions were discussed and one of them was sent to a committee for further exploration. A technical change was implemented to an existing law, and the MKs continued the bashing of Defense Minister Barak from the previous day in the one-minute speech segment. The European guests for the session were warned ahead of time that attendance is low on Tuesdays, particular on days without any bills. Although Tuesday was the eve of Jerusalem Day it was not celebrated or marked in the plenum by Deputy Speaker Tibi (R.T.), who closed the session.

 

Non-Bills Summary

  • 21 MKs participated in the one-minute speech segment of the day. Venting over Defense Minister Barak was the main topic of the speeches.
  • Speaker Rivlin and Science and Technology Committee Chairman Sheetrit (Kadima) gave warm speeches greeting the European R & D delegation of the “Eureka” project.
  • A motion marking a century of settlement in the Jezreel Valley in the Galil was marked by Speaker Rivlin, Agriculture Minister Noked (Independence) and five MKs. No vote was taken.
  • A motion on the rise of eggs and milk prices was discussed by six MKs and Agriculture Minister Noked. The motion was sent for further discussion in the Finance Committee by a 12-0 vote.
  • Interior and Environment Committee Chairman Cohen (Shas) explained his committee’s decision to correct technical issues in the Environmental Protection Law regarding “powers of inspection and enforcement.” It was approved 7-0.
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