Archive for July, 2011


Poll carried out Monday 25 July 2011 by Dialogue of a representative sample of 493 adults Israelis for the Ha’aretz newspaper. Margin of error was not disclosed.

If elections held today (expressed in Knesset seats) Current Knesset seats in [brackets].
27 [27] Likud
27 [28] Kadima
12 [13] Labor
13 [11] Shas

Other parties’ results were not listed.

Do you support the tent protest?: Yes 87% No 9% Don’t know 4%

Do you support the doctors in their struggle to improve their conditions?: Yes 85% No 9% Don’t know 6%

Radio and Updates

I’m on the radio speaking about the Boycott Bill, NGO Inquiry Committees and the Housing Crisis. The interview will be a little after midnight Israeli time on Galei Israel 102.5FM in Jerusalem, 106.5 in Tel Aviv and 89.3FM in the South.

I have my Tuesday post ready, but I’m waiting for my Monday post to be finished before I post both of them.

Last Wednesday’s session lasted about eight hours. Fourteen bills were discussed. Twelve bills were advanced after passing their preliminary readings, one was turned into a motion to avoid defeat and one was defeated. Four of the bills advanced call for canceling the retirement age increase for women from 62 to 67. MK Bielski (Kadima) was the sponsor of three of the bills advanced. The highlight of the day was MK Zoabi (Balad) resisting her removal from the plenum during the 40 MK signature session, assaulting two female security guards. A breast feeding bill caused a stir during its discussion.

 

Non-Bills Summary

  • Deputy Finance Minister Cohen (Shas), Homefront Security Minister Vilnai (Independence), Deputy Foreign Minister Ayalon (Y.B.) and Environment Minister Erdan (Likud) answered urgent queries to begin the session.
  • A discussion on the topic ‘The Netanyahu government’s failure in the political, economic and social sectors’ was discussed by fifteen MKs. As required by 40 MKs’ signatures, Prime Minister Netanyahu responded, and Opposition Leader Livni had the last say.
  • Four motions were discussed. Motions on the idea to make Sunday a day of rest and the declaration of Independence of South Sudan passed 12-0 and 8-0, respectively, and were sent to committee for further discussion. Motions on the Quartet meeting in Washington and the conclusions and lessons from the air flotilla were defeated by votes of 3-5 and 1-5, respectively.
  • Deputy Foreign Minister Ayalon responded to a query at the end of the session.

 

Bills Summary

Amendment to the Consumer Protection Bill

MK Maklev (U.T.J.) explained his amendment would force companies to send consumers an annual summary of the past year’s monthly transactions in the mail. He announced that the government supports his bill.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 16-1 and was sent to the Finance Committee.

Amendment to the State Education Bill

MK Orlev (J.H.) explained his amendment would force schools to include promoting service in the IDF and national service among their education goals and purposes.

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

The bill passed its preliminary reading 30-0 and was sent to the Education Committee.

Amendment to the Victims of Crime Rights Bill

MK Bielski (Kadima) explained his amendment would include the offense of abandonment after a car accident as part of the Victims of Crime Rights Bill. He said over the last decade there have been 7,000 hit and run accidents in Israel and it has become an epidemic. He gave detailed examples of tragic cases where the offenders were sentenced with just community service on plea bargains. He explained his bill would prohibit a plea bargain if against the wishes of the victim’s immediate family.

Justice Minister Neeman expressed government support for the bill.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 46-0 and was sent to the Justice Committee.

Accessibility to Report Dangerous Driving Bill                        

MK Bielski explained his amendment would allow citizens to report dangerous driving of all company cars to a special traffic security number. He noted that 31,000 Israelis have died from traffic accidents, higher than the number of Israeli deaths in all of Israel’s wars.

Environment Minister Erdan expressed government support for the bill.

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

Amendment to the Tenders Bill

MK Bielski explained his amendment would prohibit the discrimination of age for government tenders. He praised Israeli Bank Governor Stanley Fisher for saving Israel from the global recession and attacked the World Bank for not accepting Fisher’s application for their governor because he is 67 and the tender is only for applicants under 65. He noted the bill will allow an age ceiling of 80 for government tenders. He thanked his luck for passing three bills in one day.

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

The bill passed its preliminary reading 42-0 and was sent to the Justice Committee.

Amendment to the Welfare Services Bill

MK Solodkin (Kadima) explained her amendment would change the composition of the welfare appeals committee in local authorities. She stated the committee will consist of three members. A judge would serve as the chairman of the committee, and the other two members would be a licensed social worker and a city council member.

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

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

Amendment to the Knesset Bill

MK Levin (Likud) explained his amendment would regulate the wages and other payments to those whose membership in the Knesset has been suspended. He explained that until now each MK received a different amount and this bill will ensure each suspended MK will receive the same payments.

Speaker Rivlin noted that because it is an internal Knesset matter the government may not give their position. He told Levin that history will remember him as the man who fixed the Israeli Knesset official protocols after more than 60 years of misuse.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 30-2 with two MKs abstaining and was sent to the House Committee.

Encouraging Breast Feeding and Keeping Babies Well-Nourished Bill

MK Danon (Likud) explained his bill would prohibit baby formula companies from giving free samples or presents to new mothers in Israeli hospitals. He said the companies give money to the hospitals to allow them to enter the new mothers’ private rooms and persuade the mothers to use formula over breast milk. He cited statistics that show formula is inferior to breast milk and in many cases slows babies’ development, lowers their immune system and increases incidents of illness.

Deputy Health Minister Litzman expressed government support to the bill. He agreed studies show formula causes health risks for babies and mothers shouldn’t be encouraged to use it.

MK Gal-On (Meretz) heckled Litzman and the government position throughout his speech. She slammed breast feeding as chauvinistic. She said those who oppose formula are against feminism and trap mothers at home all day with the baby. She said the Knesset is acting as a dictatorship that is deciding for mothers what the ideal mother is and forcing them to breastfeed. She said it should be a mother’s choice which way she wants to feed her child. She said that as a mother she didn’t breastfeed and her children are fine. She said women are free to do as they please and shouldn’t be given guilt trips. She called on lifting bans on all abortions for the same reason. She said the government and Danon will not decide for the mother what is best for her children. Female MKs heckled Gal-On. She responded by saying the government is wrong and this bill must be defeated.

MK Danon responded that the bill doesn’t force mothers to breastfeed; rather, the bill is against formula companies spending millions of dollars per year bribing hospitals to enter mothers’ private rooms. He said this bill is for mothers. He said it does encourage breast feeding, but it doesn’t stop mothers from making the choice to use formula.

Speaker Rivlin stated a mother’s milk is best for babies.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 43-13 and was sent to the House Committee to decide which committee will discuss the matter further.

Motion/Amendment to the Business Licensing Bill

MK Naffaa (Balad) explained his amendment would regulate the supervision of summer camps. He stated that half a million children attend over 5,000 camps every summer and the government has stayed out of it despite the State Comptrollers criticism. He explained his bill would require all summer camps to receive a business license. He noted that not one unlicensed summer camp has been charged for not having a license. He stated it is important for the government to get involved in this matter because it is important to know the country’s children are in a safe environment. He expressed disappointment in the government’s opposition to the bill. He announced he reached an agreement with Coalition Chairman Elkin (Likud) in which the bill will be turned into a motion to avoid defeat.

The motion passed 24-0 and was sent to the Interior Committee.

Amendment to the State Education Bill

MK Horowitz (Meretz) explained his amendment would prohibit local authorities from budgeting unrecognized educational institutions. UTJ and Shas MKs heckled Horowitz. He confessed this bill will repeal the Nahari Bill that enables the local authorities to budget money for unlicensed ultra-orthodox schools. He admitted he is against religious schools and feels all State schools should be secular. He said he thinks religious schools should not receive any State or local funding and be totally private. He called on separation of synagogue from State and the end of government funding of religious schools. He said this bill will free up money to allow the secular schools to provide free lunches and free school buses. He called religious schools racist and charged they discriminate against the Sephardic Jews. He said there are only six education ministry inspectors in the entire country and only one of them inspects religious schools.

Education Minister Sa’ar expressed government opposition to the bill on the grounds it will repeal the Nahari Bill that was passed under Prime Minister Olmert’s administration. He said the balance that was reached in the bill is that each local authority is allowed to decide for itself if they choose to fund recognized schools or unrecognized schools. He noted the only MKs that voted against the Nahari Bill in the previous Knesset were those in the Meretz party. He revealed that as Education Minister he cut State funding to six religious State schools that refused to teach English.

MK Horowitz went on to blast religious schools for five straight minutes.

The bill was defeated 15-47. MK Gafni (U.T.J.) announced he pressed the wrong button and voted for the bill by mistake. Speaker Rivlin decided not to change his vote.

Four Amendments to the Retirement Age Bill

MK Itzik (Kadima) explained that her amendment would cancel the planned gradual increase in retirement age for women from 62 to 67. She rejected claims that it is hypocritical to be a feminist and decide women shouldn’t retire at the same age as men. She said it is just that men retire at 67 and women at 62. She praised Foreign Minister Liberman and Yisrael Beitenu for pressing the government to support her bill. She called for equality for women, which she said starts with giving women more rights than men. She rejected suggestions this would cause mass firings of women because employers will receive five fewer years than they were expecting from their female employees. She slammed Shas for not helping her promote the bill. She warned the men that one day they will be a minority and then women will take men’s rights into consideration.

MK Agbaria (Hadash) said that when a country is strong financially there is no reason its citizens need to work hard. He called on the government to lower men’s retirement age to 62 as a first step and lower everyone’s retirement age at a later stage to 55. He called on the Knesset to support his similar bill.

MK Hotovely (Likud) explained her similar amendment would do the same exact thing. She thanked all the female MKs from all of the parties who cooperated together to push this bill through. She said everyone has a right to retire and receive their pension and her bill allows women to retire at 62. She slammed Israel for having one of the highest retirement ages for women at 62 and called on the government to lower it even further.

MK Gal-On (Meretz) was supposed to present her similar amendment but was not present. Speaker Rivlin determined the Knesset will not wait for her and asked the government to respond to the first three bills.

Culture and Sports Minister Livnat (Likud) gave a long, feministic speech that had absolutely nothing to do with the actual bills. She slammed Opposition Leader Livni for not supporting the bill and told her that as a mother she should be ashamed of herself. She said the coalition members are allowed to vote according to their consciences and the government is not taking an official position.

MK Gal-On asked to present her bill. Speaker Rivlin allowed her bill to be presented and gave Gal-On thirty seconds to speak on her bill.

The four bills passed their preliminary readings 67-1, 68-1, 68-1 and 59-1 and were all sent to the House Committee to determine which committee will discuss them.

Opposition Leader Livni slammed Minister Livnat and said she wouldn’t comment on her allegations.

Last Tuesday’s session lasted about two and a half hours. Three bills were discussed. Two bills became law after passing their third readings and one bill was advanced after passing its first reading. The new laws extend the government project of electronic surveillance for prisoners released on bail or probation and the practice of sending mandatory draftees to the police instead of the army as a cost saving measure. The bill advanced will prohibit the sale of mass school book bundles and enable single school book purchases. House Committee Chairman Levin announced ten changes to the Knesset Rules of Procedure that will take effect on October 31, 2011.

 

Non-Bills Summary

  • 19 MKs and Minister Begin (Likud) participated in the One Minute Speech segment. The Boycott Bill was the main topic of discussion.
  • House Committee Chairman Levin (Likud) announced that MK Gal-On (Meretz) will be a permanent substitute in the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee and MK Kirshenbaum (Y.B.) will replace MK Rotem (Y.B.) in the House Committee.
  • House Committee Chairman Levin announced he was bringing up ten amendments to the Knesset Rules of Procedure dealing with sponsoring bills, objections, continuity clauses and splitting bills. He thanked the faction managers for helping him by sharing their experience. MK Khenin (Hadash) and Minister Begin both spoke in favor of the changes. The amendments were approved by a single vote of 10-0.
  • MK Plesner (Kadima) reported on the Knesset delegation to the European Union Council in Strasbourg.
  • 5 MKs asked queries to Communications Minister Kahlon (Likud) during his question hour.

 

Bills Summary

Temporary Provision on the Amendment to the Electronic Surveillance for Prisoners Released on Bail or Probation Bill

MK Michaeli (Shas) explained that the temporary provision will extend the trial electronic surveillance program for another six months. He said the extension is meant to give the police time to determine what they want to be included in the final version of the bill. He thanked the MKs in the room for being there to approve the bill.

The bill passed its second reading 6-0.

The bill passed its third reading 8-0 with Deputy Speaker Tibi abstaining.

Temporary Provision on the Amendment to the Defense Service Bill

MK Dichter (Kadima) explained the amendment would allow the police to continue recruiting mandatory service draftees in place of their military service. He announced that in 1986 mandatory draftees were first assigned police service by a temporary provision and since then that provision has been extended. He asked this time to extend the practice until the end of 2015. He said this provision allows the police to have additional manpower at a lower cost to their budget.

The bill passed its second reading 5-0 with Deputy Speaker Tibi abstaining.

The bill passed its third reading 9-0 with Deputy Speaker Tibi abstaining.

Amendment to the State Education Bill

MK Michaeli (Y.B.) explained the amendment would prohibit the selling of textbooks in packages. She said children reuse their older siblings’ books so if they only need a workbook there is no reason to force them to buy the whole package which would result in having multiple copies of textbooks.

MK Zeev (Shas) praised the ultra-orthodox system that does not follow the practice of bundling and expressed his support for the bill. He slammed those who try to delegitimize the ultra-orthodox education system.

MK Whbee (Kadima) supported the bill, which he stressed is an important step towards helping the poor. He went on to condemn the high price of school books in general and called on the government to lower prices or to offer free books.

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

Last Monday’s session lasted about seven and a half hours. Eleven bills were discussed. Seven bills became law after passing their third readings, three were advanced after passing their first readings and, for the first time since July 12, 2010, a government bill was defeated. The Boycott Bill was the highlight of the day and most coalition MKs opted to leave after that vote, giving the opposition the numbers needed to bring down a bill exactly one year after they last accomplished that feat. Kadima and Labor promised a fifteen-hour filibuster on the Boycott Bill, but what occurred was a five-hour discussion from mostly the Arab and Meretz MKs. Kadima’s three speakers used less than thirty minutes altogether, Labor didn’t send one MK to speak on the bill and Meretz removed all but one of their objections when the voting started. All of the MKs present voted along party lines, although 35 MKs were not present for the vote. As always I offer you the only English source covering every speech given the night the Boycott Bill was passed into law, leaving it up to you to read all the information and make your own informed decision.

 

Non-Bill Summary

  • Meretz and Labor’s no-confidence motion titled ‘The government’s failure in the political, social and economic sectors’ was defeated 5-39. The five other opposition parties chose not to bring up a no-confidence motion this week, which hurt the planned filibuster.

 

Bills Summary

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

Labor, Welfare and Health Committee Chairman Katz (Likud) explained the two amendments would allow pension fund managers to manage more than one fund per customer. He explained there is no reason to send the same person to different banks if he is receiving more than one pension or if he has more than one fund. Speaker Rivlin had vetoed a previous vote because Katz mixed up the amendments order when he presented them.

The first bill passed its second reading 29-0.

The first bill passed its third reading 30-0.

The second bill passed its second reading 27-0.

The second bill passed its third reading 26-0.

Amendment to the Consumer Protection Bill

MK Itzik (Kadima) explained her amendment would require all products that offer warranties by law to have a warranty sticker on the packaging. She announced this would prohibit the practice of certain companies forcing the consumer to mail in a request for a warranty. She praised Finance Committee Chairman Shama (Likud) and concluded by slamming the finance ministry and Minister Steinitz.

The bill passed its first reading 26-0 and was sent to the Finance Committee.

Preventing Harm to the State of Israel through Boycotts Bill

MK Michaeli (Shas) explained the bill will protect Israel from boycotts against the State. He announced that the bill will allow individuals or businesses who are harmed by a public boycott to sue those boycotting for damages. He explained the bill covers business, cultural and academic boycotts. He reported that the bill will prohibit companies who boycott Israel from receiving government contracts and will take away any government benefits. He made it clear that the bill applies only to Israeli citizens and not to foreigners. He asked the Knesset to support the bill and to support the finance minister’s two objections to the bill.

MK Gilon (Meretz) said that he is against boycotts and he is against the labeling of everything except testing on animals. He called the bill the Settlements Business Protection Bill and expressed his opposition to the settlements. He slammed Foreign Minister Liberman for delegitimizing Israel. He slammed the right for legislating anti-democratic bills and charged that this bill is another one. He blasted the bill for not being balanced and rejected the claim that it is patriotic. He said a citizen has a democratic right to boycott whatever they want and warned this bill is a gateway bill to more anti-democratic bills.

MK Horowitz (Meretz) warned this bill embarrasses the Knesset and raises questions around the globe of whether Israel is still a democracy. He said these bills prevent him from defending Israel’s democracy to the world and he plans to limit his support for Israel in international arenas. He slammed the government in general, and Likud and Yisrael Beitenu in particular, for passing anti-democratic bills. He said this is a bad bill and quoted officials from the foreign and justice ministries who agree with him. He accused the government of raping those in the government who opposed the bill. He stated that just because the government has a majority to pass legislation it doesn’t mean the legislation is democratic. He explained his objections would have Senator McCarthy, Libyan dictator Gaddafi and the settlers in illegal outposts supervise and oversee the implementation of the bill. He said this bill won’t stop anyone from boycotting Israel but it will hurt Israel’s democracy. He called the bill a scare tactic meant to shut people up. He said there is no legitimacy for settlements in Israel or internationally and people have the right to boycott them. He quoted the legal advisors of the Knesset, the government and the Justice Committee who disagreed with the bill and expressed concerns that it borders on taking away citizens’ freedom of expression. He asked the government why they are sabotaging the democracy of Israel. He accused the Likud MKs of passing extremist legislation in order to be one of the 18 MKs of the current 27 to return in the next Knesset due to their unusual primary system.

MK Gal-On (Meretz) accused the Netanyahu government of waging a war against Israel’s democracy and said this bill is another step in their war. She said instead of the country being democratic it is full of settlers. She accused the government of killing Israel’s democracy and said the international community will no longer list Israel as a democracy. She said the coalition has no restraint and they use their automatic majority to pass bills that become stains on Israel’s law books. She said the bill is dangerous and anti-democratic. She called boycotting Israel and settlements legitimate. She accused the right of hurting the judicial system. She said this racist bill calls for the country to act against those who don’t agree with conservative views. She attacked Coalition Chairman Elkin (Likud) and Justice Committee Chairman Rotem (Y.B.), who sponsored the bill, and told them that they don’t live in the State of Israel because they live in the settlements. She attacked the settlements and proclaimed the 1967 borders as the official borders of Israel. She said that it is unacceptable that this bill is a selective boycott. She slammed the government for spending 9 billion dollars per year on Israelis over the green line. She accused Israel of illegally using Palestinian land and resources. She said there is a difference between Israel and the settlements and this bill will cause Israel to be boycotted throughout Europe. She said that she doesn’t buy any products from settlements and supports boycotts against settlements and their businesses. She said there is no law in the democratic world like this bill and rejected the principles of defensive democracy. She said she will not support this bill if turned into law but will keep boycotting the settlements and will call on others to do the same.

MK Molla (Kadima) blamed Foreign Minister Liberman for the bill and said it comes from his university of thought. He called the bill an attempt to turn Israel’s democracy into a circus. He accused Liberman, Rotem and MK Danon (Likud) of acting against the Ethiopian aliyah in the late 1970s, had they been in Knesset then. He slammed Rotem for supporting Rabbi Lior. He called this bill the 24th anti-democratic bill of the term and counting. He accused Defense Minister Barak and his Independence faction of trying to merge with the Likud. He warned Danon that this bill could act as a boomerang against him and the right. He called boycotts against the settlements legitimate. He asked Ministers Meridor, Eitan and Begin why they left the building and why they aren’t voting against the bill. He slammed the bill for allowing the finance minister to decide on what a boycott is and what fine is justified, stressing it bypasses the court system. He quoted the Haaretz newspaper that said this bill eliminates Israel’s democracy, turning it into a dictatorship and giving settlements legitimacy. He called on the MKs to protect democracy and to oppose the bill.

MK Barakeh (Hadash) called it a fascist bill that protects the settlements and is purely political. He said this bill is a message to the Palestinians that Israelis don’t want peace and a message to Israelis who oppose the settlements that they will be fined. He called the government hostile and undemocratic. He said the bill is illogical and encourages the theft of what is left of the Palestinian land and heritage. He said the bill is persecuting the minority. He expressed his support of boycotting the settlements and called on all of Israel to boycott the settlements. He slammed the 18 anti-democratic bills passed this term and called it apartheid. He called all settlements illegal and said this bill won’t change that. He called on Israel to release the 6,800 Palestinians in Israeli jails. He concluded by calling for the dismantling of all settlements and, in the meantime, the boycotting of the settlements.

MK Plesner (Kadima) said he doesn’t support boycotts but does support the citizens’ right to boycott, especially social media. He held up two newspapers, one saying the bill will be brought to a vote today and the other saying it won’t be, since Netanyahu decided at the last minute to let the bill go up for a vote. Deputy Speaker Whbee (Kadima) made him take down the newspapers, and Plesner left the podium before he was escorted off.

Finance Minister Steinitz (Likud) explained his objection will require the approval of both the financial and justice ministries for the law to be implemented. He responded to Molla that this bill won’t give him ultimate powers and there will be checks and balances. He slammed those who said this bill harms freedom of expression and said that because boycotting certain populations hurts them financially the government must step in. He said financial boycotting on ideological terms is not democratic and therefore he supports the bill.

MK Swaid (Hadash) said it is not coincidence that today Fox News’ Glenn Beck had a special Knesset committee session. He called Beck a racist who hates blacks and Muslims. He slammed most of Israel’s rabbis, claiming they are against Arabs and are even against Arabs renting in Jewish cities. He called the settlements an act of aggression. He said the bill is part of a flood of anti-democratic bills that hurt freedom of expression. He said that it is unacceptable that Israelis can boycott cottage cheese but not settlements. He agreed that America has anti-boycott laws that protect Israel, but said those laws don’t include fines. He rejected claims that settlement boycotts would hurt the Palestinian workforce that would be laid off if the settlements factories go under. He slammed Israel for the settlements and for hurting Palestinians. He warned this bill will force Israel to boycott its own citizens and called the bill a Senator McCarthy bill with a kippah.

MK Khenin (Hadash) said every line has been crossed with this bill and it will protect the settlements at the expense of freedom of expression. He asked why Israelis can boycott non-kosher stores but not settler stores. He said this bill is not democratic and slammed the religious conservatives for sending the Knesset into a black period. He warned this bill will silence the Israeli Rosa Parks and Martin Luther Kings. He equated American racism and slavery to Israeli settlements. He rejected the sanctions in the bill, calling them anti-democratic. He called the settlements illegal and said they are justifiably boycotted throughout the world. He said the extreme right wants to drown Israel. He concluded by blasting the bill as anti-democratic and told Israelis not to be silenced and to keep boycotting settlements and their products.

MK Tibi (R.T.) said the bill is anti-democratic and the Supreme Court will overturn it. He equated the religious boycott of non-kosher restaurants to the boycotting of settlement products. He said that Israel and the Jews stole the land from the Arabs. He charged that all of Ma’aleh Adumim is on private Palestinian land. He said that in 1947 Arabs owned 87% of Israel and today they only own 3% of the land. He slammed Israelis for not shopping in Arab villages. He called boycotting settlements legitimate non-violent resistance. He asked what legitimate tools Arabs have to oppose the settlements. He praised Pink Floyd for opposing this bill. He suggested MK Elkin was bullied in school and was physically assaulted and now needs to fight back. He called the bill blacker than black and argued with other conservative MKs in the room saying they all have a specialty in different types of anti-democratic bills. He said that Arabs deserve more rights than Jews do. He said a democracy is measured by how the majority treats the minority. MK Shama (Likud) interrupted and said Israel needs to use defensive democracy against Tibi. Tibi fired back that without the Arabs the right would persecute MK Molla and the Ethiopians. He called the right racist against everyone but themselves. He called the 18th Knesset a black stain and an embarrassment to Israeli democracy. He said that the Arabs will win and remove all the settlements. Deputy Speaker Whbee removed MK Orbach (U.T.J.) from the plenum for heckling Tibi. Tibi concluded by calling for the evacuation of all settlements.

MK Agbaria (Hadash) said this anti-democratic bill will mark the beginning of the end of Israel’s democracy. He slammed the NIS 50,000 fine for boycotting Israeli settlements. He said Israel is boycotting Israelis who choose to identify themselves with Arabs. He warned Israelis will leave the country if this bill is passed.

MK Sarsur (R.T.) quoted a piece of the Koran that discusses the destruction of the Jewish empire and warned the Jews of today that Israel will collapse just as their empire fell centuries ago. He called this bill another symptom of Israel’s illness of fascism and bullying. He said Israel uses too much power, racism and terrorism and is acting suicidal, denying the Palestinian capital of Jerusalem. He praised the United States for supporting Lebanon’s position on the Israeli-Lebanon border issue and read out editorials from Haaretz on the subject. He called on Israel to listen to their friends in the U.S. and allow Lebanon to utilize their natural gas deposits. He concluded by warning that Israel is not immune to disappearing overnight, as other countries in the Middle East have done.

MK Ganaim (R.T.) slammed the racist and anti-democratic bills that Netanyahu supports and said Arabs don’t live in a democracy in Israel. He blasted the principle of defensive democracy. He said settlers and their Rabbis do not believe in democracy and are receiving a present from the government. He said the country of Israel lost to the country of the settlers. He said that Israelis look at security as Zeus and bow down to it. He said it is unacceptable that Israelis want to eat humus in Arab villages but not invite Arabs into Jewish cities. He said that the Arabs have been here for thousands of years, before Jews ever stepped foot in Palestine. He said that Israel’s little piece of democracy is slowly dwindling away, while the Arab countries are moving towards democracy.

MK Abesadze (Kadima) warned that England, France and Belgium supported Lebanon’s candidacy to the U.N. Security Council, which was defeated by just three votes. She said that Israel is losing their friends and this bill isn’t going to help. She slammed the bill as a return to the days of Stalin, the K.G.B. and concentration camps. She warned this bill is a reminder of the middle ages that forbids freedom of expression. She charged that even Netanyahu is afraid of the right, since this bill seeks to silence those who don’t agree with them. She said this isn’t a normal bill and deserves a place with Gaddafi and Libya. She said this is the worst bill the Knesset has ever seen.

MK Eldad (N.U.) said the balance between freedom of expression and freedom to work is a sensitive one. He said those who oppose the bill place the freedom to say whatever they want over the freedom to work and feed ones family, and those people don’t understand the point of democracy. He said hurting a person’s pocket is anti-democratic.  He noted it was interesting that none of the speakers mentioned they would support the bill if the settlements weren’t included. He said that boycotting Ma’aleh Adumim is the same as boycotting Tel Aviv. He asked what the difference is between a person who lives in Ma’aleh Adumim and works in Tel Aviv and a person who lives in Tel Aviv and works in Ma’aleh Adumim. He asked if those opposed to the bill would wish to boycott both products.

MK Ben Ari (N.U.) said he has heard a lot about tolerance, racism and anti-democratic bills over the last few hours. He read a story of a rabbi in Russia during the Stalin years who went through something similar to what Rabbi Lior went through earlier in the month. He said that Israel has been going through a heavenly redemption over the last century as Jews have started to return to their historic homeland. He recalled that the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) was formed in 1964, three years before the six day war, with the intention of liberating Jaffa, Lod, Acre, Ramla, etc. He noted that 82 kibbutzim were built on land that Arabs inhabited before 1948 but his settlement was built on empty land that was never owned by Arabs. He asked who the fascist is and who the liberal is. He noted MK Sarsur spoke of 1948 and not 1967, as well as the destruction of the State of Israel, and no one had a problem with that and it won’t even get press coverage. He said the lie is celebrating that Jews are living in Arab houses in Jerusalem’s exclusive neighborhood of Baka and saying it is the settlers who are the obstacles to peace. He slammed the leftists for trading the Arab land they are occupying for the empty hilltops that Jews built settlements on. He warned the left that after the Arabs destroy the settlements they will destroy Yavne and Acre. He slammed MK Ganaim, who said he was in Israel for thousands of years, and a different Arab MK, who claimed to be a Yevusi (Jebusite). He told Glenn Beck and Mike Huckabee that the enemies of Israel will be defeated by the hand of god. He said this was not a promise but a prophecy.

MK Zoabi (Balad) blasted the bill and said it is illegal because it ignores international law that forbids settlements. She said settlements are not legitimate and she is against the bill and supports the boycotting of settlements. She slammed the settlements and said the bill will hurt Israel more than it hurts the Arabs because it will corrupt the Israelis.

MK Zahalka (Balad) quoted Haaretz, which said that if this bill passes Israel will become an anti-democratic dictatorship. He called on the public to boycott the settlers and their products and to ignore the bill if it is passed into law. He stated that the boycott should be not only on the settlements but also on the entire Israeli government. He called settlements robbery of Palestinian land. He said freedom of expression is the most important aspect of democracy and this bill will prohibit that freedom.

MK Elkin (Likud) noted that France, Germany, the U.S. and most democratic countries have this bill as law to defend their own economies. He said that not adding Judea and Samaria to the bill would discriminate against 400,000 people based on their address. He said the government of Israel sent the settlers to the settlements and the government has a responsibility to protect them. He said the current situation of Israelis boycotting Israelis is absurd and this bill will take away their government benefits. He noted in the United States version of the bill the punishment is four years in jail and the Israeli version has simply a fine with no jail time. He said this bill is a Zionistic bill that has many Kadima co-sponsors and called on them to support it.

MK Michaeli (Shas) summarized the discussion by expressing government support for the bill and calling on the Knesset to approve it. He said even democracy has its limits and one of those limits will be set today. He stressed the bill isn’t an automatic bill- the courts must find a person guilty of the new law. He also stressed that it isn’t meant to silence people but to prevent boycotts.

The opposition’s objections were defeated 38-46, 34-47, 38-47, 36-47, 37-43, 38-46, 37-46, 38-45, 37-46, 37-47, 38-47, 38-47, 36-44, 36-47 and 31-42. Most of Kadima’s and Meretz’s objections were removed.

Finance Minister Steinitz’s two objections were accepted 45-32 and 46-33.

The bills paragraphs passed their second readings 47-38, 47-38, 46-38, 45-38, 47-38 and 47-38.

The bill passed its third reading, including the two objections, 47-38 with 3 MKs present who didn’t vote, including Speaker Rivlin.

MK Wilf (Independence) explained her party was not present for the vote because they believe in the principle of the bill but felt it went too far.

MK Michaeli (Shas) thanked the Knesset for approving the bill in the name of Chairman Rotem and MK Elkin.

Amendment to the Setting Time Bill

Interior Minister Yishai (Shas) explained the bill would extend daylight savings time.

MK Azoulay (Shas) said he doesn’t believe that extending daylight savings time is a good thing. He noted that five years ago the entire Knesset agreed on setting the time and now suddenly the secular have changed their minds.

The bill passed its first reading 22-5 and was sent to the Interior Committee.

Amendment to the Civil Service Bill

Deputy Finance Minister Cohen (Shas) explained the amendment would allow certain civil service workers in the land authority to receive early retirement with full pension based on a signed agreement between their union and the government.

The bill was defeated 15-19.

Deputy Speaker Vaknin (Shas) and Deputy Minister Cohen were shocked, and MK Tibi mocked them.

Amendment to the National Health Insurance Bill

Labor, Welfare and Health Committee Chairman Katz explained the amendment would change the system so if an insured patient needs to make a copayment for a private doctor they will be covered for all subsequent visits within the next three months and will eliminate the previous quarter system. He noted the bill will also require the clinics to give patients their money back on the day the charge is approved rather than making them wait until the end of the month.

The bill passed its second reading 15-0.

The bill passed its third reading 16-0.

MK Cabel (Labor) thanked the Knesset for approving the bill.

Amendment to the Contractors Employees Bill

Labor, Welfare and Health Committee Chairman Katz explained the amendment will prohibit contactors who are not licensed to find employment for workers. He said that the fine for violating this bill is NIS 14,400. He noted there are exceptions to the bill, such as cleaning women in apartment buildings. He thanked his assistants for their work and the Knesset for supporting the bill.

The bill passed its second reading 15-0.

The bill passed its third reading 15-0.

Amendment to the Joint Investment Trust Bill

Funds Committee Chairman Gafni (U.T.J.) explained the amendment would determine under which circumstances joint investment trusts are to be transparent to the public and when the trusts should be sealed. He thanked the MKs who sponsored the bill and the MKs in the room for supporting it.

The bill passed its second reading 12-0.

The bill passed its third reading 11-0.

Amendment to the Student Rights Bill

Education, Culture and Sports Committee Chairman Miller (Y.B.) explained the amendment would prohibit discrimination against students based on their place of birth. He thanked his assistants and the Knesset for supporting the bill.

The bill passed its second reading 11-0.

The bill passed its third reading 12-0.

Amendment to the Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Rabin Commemorating Centers Bill

Education, Culture and Sports Committee Chairman Miller explained the amendment will include the Begin and Rabin museums as part of the respective commemorating centers. He explained the bill will also enable committee members of the centers to serve for three terms, as opposed to the one term restriction in place today.

The bill passed its second reading 11-0.

The bill passed its third reading 11-0.

Amendment to the Motor Vehicle Insurance Ordinance Bill

MK Kirshenbaum (Y.B.) explained the amendment would reduce motorcycle insurance rates.

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

Last Wednesday’s session lasted about five and a half hours. Ten bills were discussed. Five bills were advanced after passing their preliminary readings, two were pulled to avoid defeat and three were defeated. The bills advanced involve the assets of holocaust victims, investment advisors, children orphaned as a result of a terrorist attack, presenting political party reports and consumer protection. The unusually short Wednesday session was the result of Deputy Speaker Whbee deliberately skipping the last few items on the agenda.

Non-Bills Summary

  • Interior Minister Yishai (Shas), Deputy Health Minister Litzman (U.T.J.) and Labor and Welfare Minister Kahlon (Likud) answered urgent queries at the beginning of the session.
  • Six motions were discussed, passed and sent for further discussion in committee by the votes 9-0, 8-0, 9-0, 13-0, 6-3 and 7-0.
  • Deputy Speaker Whbee (Kadima) chose to skip a few motions and five MKs’ queries because the MKs were not present in the room. MK Ben Ari (N.U.), who missed his name call by less than 30 seconds, asked to have Justice Minister Neeman answer his query or at least give him the written answer. Whbee refused and closed the session unusually early for a Wednesday. Several MKs were upset about the speed at which Whbee went through the last items on the agenda without much warning. MKs Shai (Kadima) and Adatto (Kadima) complained that their motions were passed over.

 

Bills Summary

Amendment to the Assets of Holocaust Victims Bill

MK Orlev (J.H.) explained his amendment will require that funds allocated to the families of Holocaust victims be put into an endowment or restitution for Holocaust remembrance purposes if the family has not already used the money. He explained the bill will also use all assets that were not claimed by an heir for the same purposes, including giving money to private institutions such as Yad Vashem.

Justice Minister Neeman expressed government support for the bill.

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

Amendment to the Regulation of Investment Counseling, Investment Marketing and Portfolio Management Bill

MK Amnon Cohen (Shas) explained his amendment would regulate the rules for investment advisors and prohibit conflicts of interest.

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

The bill passed its preliminary reading 20-0 and was sent to the Funds Committee.

Amendment to the Hostility Victims Compensation Bill

MK Orlev explained his amendment would grant orphans their parents’ full pensions in the event that both parents are killed in a terrorist attack. He explained he realized this issue was occurring when he was Labor and Welfare Minister during the second intifada and stressed his bill will correct the injustice. He thanked his co-sponsor MK Itzik (Kadima) and the 22 families (70-80 people) who will benefit from this bill.

Labor and Welfare Minister Kahlon (Likud) expressed government support for the bill and said he personally will do whatever he can to move this bill into law as soon as possible.

MK Tiviaev (Kadima) objected to the bill on the grounds that the treasury is not giving enough money to the orphans. Speaker Rivlin reminded Tiviaev that he must vote against the bill because he exercised his right to object to the bill.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 45-1 and was sent to the Welfare Committee.

Amendment to the Presenting Party Reports Bill

MK Gafni (U.T.J.) explained the current law requires political parties to present an annual financial report to three different government authorities with different deadlines. He announced his amendment will create a single deadline for all three authorities and will require the reports to be identical. He noted the government does not have a position on the bill because it is an internal legislative branch matter.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 37-0 and was sent to the House Committee to decide which committee should discuss the bill.

Amendment to the Consumer Protection Bill

MK Tirosh (Kadima) explained her amendment will require the labeling of alcoholic beverages to be identical to that of cigarettes. She slammed the government for not releasing the protocols of the ministerial committees. She struggled to understand why it is okay to write that cigarettes give you cancer but it isn’t okay to write that alcohol kills brain cells. She stated her bill is an educational bill that will explain to children why alcohol is bad for them.

Industry and Trade Minister Simhon (Independence) explained the government opposes the bill on the grounds that the matter will be resolved in MK Danon’s (Likud) bill, which has already passed its first reading. He said there is no reason to pass Tirosh’s bill since it will be irrelevant within a few weeks of Danon’s bill passing its third reading.

MK Tirosh said that the cynical suggestion that her bill is trying to steal MK Danon’s ideas is unacceptable and stressed that she never read Danon’s bill or knew of its existence. She asked that her bill be pulled so she can have time to read Danon’s bill. Minister Simhon refused and called on the Knesset to defeat the bill.

The bill was defeated 23-46 with one MK abstaining.

Amendment to the Income Support Bill

MK Solodkin (Kadima) explained her amendment will increase the amount a person can earn while remaining eligible for a government entitlement. She said the current situation encourages eligible citizens not to declare their income accurately and to cheat on their taxes. She slammed current government plans to raise the amount by a proposed 4% for only certain “important” entitlements. She also slammed the 35 shekel cost increase for senior citizen’s monthly bus passes in Gush Dan, part of the new public transportation reform.

Labor and Welfare Minister Kahlon expressed government opposition to the bill citing the financial burden it would put on the budget. He reported that certain entitlement groups will receive raises in both their entitlements and their allotted salaries. He stressed the government has priorities and certain groups deserve entitlements more than others.

MK Solodkin blasted the government for being too capitalistic and suggested they pay more attention to the poor.

The bill was defeated 23-42.

Amendment to the Prohibiting Fraud in Kashrut Bill

MK Katzeleh (N.U.) explained this is his third time in two years bringing up this bill. He announced his amendment would give ultimate authority for determining the criteria for kosher certificates to the Central Rabbinate and would not allow the Supreme Court to intervene, as they have in a handful of cases. He informed the plenum that Israel’s Chief Rabbis Amar and Metzger both support the bill. He stressed that halacha (Jewish law) should be decided by rabbis and not Supreme Court justices. He asked how the country can be a Jewish and Democratic state if the country rejects its Jewish half.

Religious Affairs Minister Margi (Shas) agreed that it is unacceptable for the Supreme Court to force a city rabbi to grant a kosher certificate to a business when the rabbi feels the business is not kosher. He praised the bill, saying it is a great bill that is balanced and brings order to kosher certificates. He slammed the ministers who are forcing the government to oppose the bill on the grounds that it is a bill that bypasses the Supreme Court.

MK Katzeleh thanked Minister Margi for his support of the bill and asked the religious MKs in the room why they are voting against their rabbis. He particularly slammed Shas for voting against Rav Ovadia Yosef and Rav Amar.

Speaker Rivlin pulled back his support for a roll call vote on the bill on the grounds that most of the MKs who requested the roll call were not present. Kadima, Meretz and the Arab parties were not in the room for the vote in order to embarrass the religious MKs by forcing them to vote against a bill they believe in.

The bill was defeated 4-36 with MK Zeev (Shas) abstaining.

Amendment to the Social Security Bill

MK Gilon (Meretz) explained his amendment would grant an extension to the deadline for claiming benefits and extend that period until the money is paid in full to the citizen. He confessed that he is a big fan of taxes and his party wishes taxes were higher on the rich and middle class to help the poor. He said that many people realize they were entitled to money only years later and should be allowed to collect the money retroactively and his bill will enable this. He called on uniting all of the tax authorities under one roof.  After it was clear the government opposed the bill, Gilon decided to pull his bill and not vote on it to avoid defeat.

Amendment to the Protection of Privacy Bill

MK Khenin (Hadash) explained his bill would prohibit employers from monitoring their employees. He said when the Protection of Privacy Bill was passed in the 1980s no one knew of the dangers today’s technology would have on Israelis’ privacy. He slammed Orange for selling their customers’ information to various companies for a hefty pay check. He explained his bill would prohibit such things. He announced he would delay the vote on the bill in order to lobby for government support.

Amendment to the Consumer Protection Bill

MK Cabel (Labor) explained his amendment would require a citizen to pay his bills only according to necessity, meaning one would not have to pay two telephone bills if no longer living in one of the houses. He stated the idea of the bill is that the consumer will not be paying money for services he is not receiving. No minister was in the room, so the bill went to a quick vote.

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

Smith Poll Published on July 6th

29 [27] Likud
27 [28] Kadima
16 [15] Yisrael Beitenu
10 [11] Shas
09 [08] Labor
06 [05] UTJ
05 [04] National Union
04 [03] Meretz
03 [03] Jewish Home/NRP
11 [11] Arab parties
00 [05] Independence

According to the poll, Labors MK count would be different based on who is elected chairman. Mitzna14, Herzog 13, Yacimovich 12, Peretz and other two candidates 9

Tuesday’s session lasted about three and a half hours. Three bills were discussed and advanced after passing their first readings. The three bills involve selling used cars, divorced parents’ rights and government campaigning. Education Minister Sa’ar answered many questions, changes were made to the MKs’ representation in the committees and a delegation of parliamentarians and members of Congress from Latin America was welcomed.

 

Non-Bills Summary

  • 19 MKs participated in the One Minute Speech segment that opened the session.
  • 10 MKs asked queries during a question hour with Education Minister Sa’ar (Likud).
  • Speaker Rivlin gave a warm speech greeting the delegation of parliamentarians and members of Congress from Latin America.
  • Two motions were discussed. One was not voted on and the other was sent for further discussion in the Education Committee by an 8-0 vote.
  • House Committee Chairman Levin (Likud) announced that MK Tibi (R.T.) will replace MK Braverman (Labor) as a permanent substitute in the Finance Committee. He also announced which disputed bills will be discussed in which committees. Additionally he announced that MKs Cabel (Labor), Shai (Kadima) and Eichler (U.T.J.) will be designated party alternate substitutes that will be allowed to step in when needed in any committee for other MKs in their party and that Likud MKs Danon and Akunis may replace Shas MKs Azoulay and Vaknin. The measures were approved by a vote of 8-0.

 

Bills Summary

Amendment to the Traffic Ordinance Bill

MK Ezra (Kadima) explained the amendment would force the transportation ministry to be a one stop shop and help people transfer vehicle licenses needed for selling and purchasing used cars. He said that currently a trip to the justice ministry is also required and this bill will eliminate that trip by transferring the authority to the transportation ministry.

MK Zeev (Shas) said the bill is very important and he supports it.

MK Sheetrit (Kadima) said that, as a co-sponsor, he will support the bill. He called for creating a national database on all cars so there is information on them when they are sold.

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

Amendment to the Additional Mailing Address for Minors

MK Sheetrit said that divorce is spreading throughout Israeli society. He slammed courts’ decisions in custody battles to award the children to the mother automatically if they are less than six years old. He explained the amendment will provide the parent who doesn’t live with his children information on where they live and study. He noted that court orders can prohibit dangerous parents from receiving that information. He added that any letter that is sent to one parent about a child must be sent to the other parent as well.

MK Zeev praised and supported the bill.

MK Orlev (J.H.) praised and supported the bill.

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

Amendment to the Publication Restrictions Bill

MK Orlev (J.H.) explained the amendment would prohibit public bodies or personalities from purchasing advertisements supporting any public official. He said this restriction will prevent government workers from campaigning for certain individuals.

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

Monday’s session lasted about six hours. Six bills were discussed. Five bills were advanced after passing their first readings, and one bill became law after passing its third reading. Netanyahu presented a bill for the first time since he was reelected Prime Minister in 2009. It was also the first time a Prime Minister had presented a bill since former Prime Minister Sharon presented the Disengagement Bill in 2005. The Procedures to Accelerate Planning and Construction of a Residential Building Bill was discussed by opposition and coalition members. Another highlight of the day was the transfer of certain Mossad responsibilities from Defense Minister Barak to Prime Minister Netanyahu.

 

Non-Bills Summary

  • Kadima’s no-confidence motion titled ‘The Netanyahu government negatively affects working women and intends to raise the retirement age for women to 67’ was defeated 37-56 with 27 MKs not attending.
  • Labor’s no-confidence motion titled ‘The government’s economic failure is causing prices to rise in all sectors of the economy’ was defeated 36-58 with 26 MKs not attending.
  • Meretz’s no-confidence motion titled ‘The inability of the government to act against the rebellion and growing threats to the rule of law’ was defeated 34-61 with 25 MKs not attending.
  • Hadash, Ra’am-Ta’al and Balad’s joint no-confidence motion titled ‘The food and public transportation prices and regressive taxes in Israel are the highest in the world’ was defeated 31-60 with 29 MKs not attending.
  • Intelligence Minister Meridor announced the transfer of certain authorities and responsibilities from Defense Minister Barak to Prime Minister Netanyahu. MKs Ariel (N.U.), Khenin (Hadash) and Bielski (Kadima) gave speeches opposing the move on the grounds that Meridor refused to report which responsibilities are being transferred. Speaker Rivlin agreed to MK Ariel’s request to learn more on what he is voting on and brought up Meridor, who explained the issue is classified because it involves the Israeli Mossad. The measure was approved by a 24-4 vote.

 

Bills Summary

Temporary Provision to the Procedures to Accelerate Planning and Construction of a Residential Building Bill

Prime Minister Netanyahu stated that just about every MK has at some point complained to him about the housing crisis. He was heckled by the opposition on the grounds that the Prime Minister should not be presenting a bill to the Knesset. Speaker Rivlin reminded the MKs that former Prime Minister Shamir presented the original bill to the Knesset in 1990. Netanyahu explained the housing crisis is a result of the growing population. He reported that there is a gap every year of 10,000 building units that need to be built and are not, noting the government built 35,000 units this year compared to the 45,000 needed. He said the current shortage is between 60,000 and 100,000 building units. He reported the five measures his government has already implemented to tackle the problem, stating he has improved transportation from the Galil and the Negev to the center of the country by building new railroad lines and multi-lane freeways, granted young couples NIS 100,000 grants to build homes in 28 designated cities throughout Israel, moved multiple army bases to the Negev, overturned the prohibition on building new housing projects in the center of the country and reduced taxes for people selling apartments. MK Ben Ari (N.U.) was thrown out for heckling. Netanyahu defended his five actions and the money he spent on trying to solve the problem. He slammed the Israeli bureaucracy in general and the Israel Land Authority in particular as the main reasons Israel has a housing shortage. He praised the reform he started in the Israel Land Authority and said that many fundamental changes are coming, among them reducing the hostility between homeowners and the authority, productively marketing new homes, ensuring managerial flexibility and hiring dozens of experts to help expedite the marketing of homes. He said the two hurdles are ensuring a pension for the authority workers and shortening the marketing speed from 5-8 years per building unit to about a year. He explained his temporary provision will merge the authority committees into a one stop shop and enforce timetables and deadlines. He hoped these changes, along with what his government has already accomplished, will close the gap of the housing shortage and bring results quickly. He said the easiest way to lower demand for houses is to increase the supply. He said he hoped the opposition, who heckled his whole speech, will approve this important and much needed bill.

Opposition Leader Livni slammed Netanyahu for turning the speech into a press conference. She called Netanyahu a marketing expert and not a Prime Minister. She blasted the indirect taxes, shrinking middle class and cottage cheese prices. She accused Netanyahu of being all talk and no walk. She criticized Netanyahu and the ministers who left the room saying they are too afraid to hear another opinion. She said there are 160,000 empty apartments in the Galil and Negev, and Netanyahu’s solution is to build in the center of the country. She said that transportation reform for the Negev and Galil is a stop gap measure because the government should really create jobs in those areas. She noted there are 50,000 people on the list for public housing, and Netanyahu doesn’t even touch the issue with this bill. She said the real gap is between what Netanyahu says and what Netanyahu does.

MK Swaid (Hadash) slammed Netanyahu for explaining the problem and what the government has supposedly done to solve the problem instead of solving the problem. He warned lowering the price of apartments is dangerous because it will impact the taxes the government collects. He said an average family cannot afford an apartment unless they work for 15 years with no expenses. He stated that adding thousands of new apartments now will not solve the current situation but, rather, will help the future. He slammed the bill for discriminating against the Arab communities because it doesn’t call for legalizing the illegal homes in Arab villages.

MK Khenin (Hadash) slammed Netanyahu for presenting the bill and not staying to hear what the MKs have to say about it. He said the housing market is failing and a reform is needed but this bill falls short. He asked why the bill isn’t encouraging people to rent out their empty apartments. He slammed the government for not placing pressure on the builders who are not marketing 160,000 housing units that are sitting empty. He noted the bill covers houses, but not synagogues, schools, health clinics or bus stations, so the houses will not have services. He said the land authority is undermanned and that is why there are problems, claiming it has nothing to do with bureaucracy. He slammed the bill for not being environmentally friendly.

MK Regev (Likud) praised the bill and expressed her support. She encouraged supervision over the implementation of the NIS 100,000 grant. She slammed the selective housing prices of NIS 400,000 in Bet Shemesh compared to NIS 1.5 million for the same sized apartment in Rosh Ha’ayin. She called for a cap of NIS 600,000-700,000 for a first apartment.

MK Ariel (N.U.) called the bill vandalism. He slammed Netanyahu for freezing construction in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria and the Arab villages. He said 10,000 units are sitting ready for marketing and Netanyahu refuses to sign off on it. He noted that after six years two thirds of the disengagement refugees are still homeless. He stressed that releasing houses for marketing is the solution, not another bill.

MK Eichler (U.T.J.) recalled that when Israel was poor in the 1950s the government still found a house for every person. He slammed the government for not doing the same. He noted 8,000 apartments are being held up in Rosh Ha’ayin because of a fight over who will take care of the sewage. He said Bet Shemesh doesn’t receive government subsidies and it is just cheap because Haredim live there.

MK Plesner (Kadima) slammed the government for creating and not solving the housing crisis and said Netanyahu instead chose to keep the lies coming. He called on removing the marketing blocks on the 160,000 apartments ready for new families. He called the bill pointless since the solution is to release the apartments, which will flood the market with new apartments. He said creating another neighborhood like Hemed in Meveseret Tzion, which has only houses and no other services, is not a helpful solution.

MK Sheetrit (Kadima) said the bill is a bad plan and won’t be implemented since the Israel Land Authority chairman is against the reform and acts against the government. He warned this bill will help the country of Tel Aviv and hurt the rest of Israel. He called on giving incentives to the builders to sell apartments fast, restricting the purchase of more than one apartment per year and forcing people who bought land to build on it or forfeit the land back to the government or get taxed heavily.

MK Katzeleh (N.U.) said there are two big problems with the housing crisis. One is the national deficit, and the other is the country not agreeing to increase the debt to solve the problem. He recalled when he helped Sharon build 120,000 apartments in two years, from 1990 to 1992. His solution for lowering prices is allowing the public to buy land directly from the country without middlemen and removing the building restrictions in Jerusalem. He said his solution is the only solution and asked Deputy Speaker Akunis (Likud) to pass the message along to Netanyahu.

MK Horowitz (Meretz) said for the first time he has to agree with Katzeleh because he is 100% right. He said it is dangerous to bypass the planning committees because the result is failed neighborhoods. He called on giving the land authority more manpower and resources. He said this bill isn’t a supertanker but, rather, a superbluff.

MK Levi-Abekasis (Y.B.) supported and praised the bill. She said it is not a quick fix but, rather, a long-term partial solution. She said it would be unwise to oppose the bill because it doesn’t go far enough, stressing we should support even partial solutions. She criticized that social housing is not part of the bill.

MK Zuaretz (Kadima) said the solution is not legislation but marketing authorized housing projects. She asked how having more committees will reduce bureaucracy. She said this bill helps private interests dictate to mayors how their cities will be built up.

MK Molla (Kadima) accused Netanyahu of spinning every problem instead of solving them. He asked Netanyahu why, if the shortage is 100,000 and there are 160,000 in the reserves, the solution isn’t to release those reserves. He called on the government to purchase thousands of apartments and sell those apartments themselves.

MK Bibi (Kadima) agreed that bureaucracy is the problem but said more bureaucracy is not the solution. He said today politicians go to the press and say they are going to do something, and afterwards they decide if they are actually going to follow through. He warned that bypassing mayors when building up areas is dangerous.

MK Cabel (Labor) slammed Netanyahu for blaming the previous administration for the housing shortage after over two years in office. He reminded Netanyahu that Netanyahu assured the MKs that the previous reform in the land authority would result in more housing and said apparently Netanyahu was wrong about that and he is wrong about this too.

MK Hotovely (Likud) revealed that even as an MK she doesn’t have enough money to buy a house and wondered how the general public can afford to do so. She slammed the government for not doing enough to prevent the Arabs, Bedouins and Druze from land grabbing. She reported that Netanyahu will agree to build 5,000 new units in Jerusalem, but not more than that. She called on Netanyahu to raise that number and to increase the number of housing units in Judea and Samaria.

MK Zeev (Shas) called on the government to build up a Jewish Jerusalem and prevent the illegal building of Arabs in eastern Jerusalem. He slammed the illegal building of Arabs throughout the country and called on Israel to do something about it. He warned that the illegal construction is undermining plans for new roads and other infrastructure. He slammed the army for buying land from Bedouins and then letting them return to live on that land days later.

MK Amnon Cohen (Shas) thanked Netanyahu for the bill and expressed his support for it. He said he is looking forward to discussing it in the committee and hopes the bill will eventually lower the prices of apartments to NIS 600,000-700,000.

Finance Minister Steinitz (Likud) blasted the opposition for attacking the Prime Minister instead of letting him present the bill. He explained that in the years 2000 through 2009 the average annual construction of housing units was reduced gradually from 37,000 to 30,000 while the population grew, causing the current shortage of between 60,000-100,000 units. He also blamed the interest rates.  He said this year Israel is building 50,000 new units and, together with the reform of the land authority, this will cause housing prices to go down.

The bill passed its first reading 51-20 and was sent to the House Committee to decide which committee will discuss the bill.

Amendment to the Criminal Procedure Bill

Constitution, Law and Justice Committee Chairman Rotem (Y.B.) explained the amendment will expand the enforcement powers of the police, including body searches, identification of criminals and missing people, international police cooperation, the expansion of the criminal database to include more information and the creation of a new DNA database that will be used to identify dead bodies easily.

MK Gal-On (Meretz) explained the bill creates an issue between protecting the public and protecting criminals’ rights. She said she is pleased with the balance that was found in the committee and will support the bill. She said she is worried that the Israeli police will transfer information to the police of other countries who will use that information against Israelis.

MK Khenin slammed the bill for violating citizens’ basic rights by transferring information to foreign police. He said he will object to subsequent bills that have a Big Brother flavor. He said he will not vote on the bill at the request of Speaker Rivlin.

The bill passed its second reading 14-0.

The bill passed its third reading 14-0.

Temporary Provision to an amendment to the Defense Service Bill

Agriculture Minister Noked (Independence) explained the temporary provision will extend the amendment allowing army draftees to serve in the police service or border police instead of serving in the army for another three years until June 30, 2015.

MK Ariel (N.U.) slammed the government for asking our children to serve their mandatory service in the police or border police instead of the military. He blasted the government for forcing people to be policemen if they don’t wish to. He asked Noked to explain to him the logic behind the bill, but Noked refused.

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

Temporary Provision to an amendment to the Electronic Surveillance to Criminals out on Bail and Criminals on Probation Bill

Minister Noked explained the temporary provision will extend the amendment that allows electronic surveillance of criminals out on bail or on probation for another year.

MK Ariel said this bill is as bad as the last bill but he won’t elaborate at the request of MK Miller (Y.B.)

The bill passed its first reading 10-1 and was sent to the Science and Technology Committee.

Amendment to the Patent Bill

Minister Noked explained the amendment would require the publication of patents within 18 months of the application being sent to the patent authority. She said this bill was requested by the United States government so that Israel would abide by current international patent guidelines.

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

Amendment to the Traffic Ordinance Bill

MK Matalon (Y.B.) explained his amendment would toughen the punishment for abandonment during a traffic accident. He reported that many hit and run criminals receive cushy plea bargains and get out of jail after a few months and this bill will increase the punishment considerably. He hoped this bill will make a person think twice before abandoning a person on the road.

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

Last Wednesday’s session lasted about seven and a half hours. Nine bills were discussed. Two bills were advanced after passing their preliminary readings, three were turned into motions to avoid defeat, one was pulled to avoid defeat and three were defeated. The bills advanced extend tax benefits for Sderot and Western Negev residents and businesses and allow local authorities to allocate money to a special fund for educational structures.

 

Non-Bills Summary

  • Seven urgent queries were answered by Justice Minister Neeman, Deputy Finance Minister Cohen (Shas), Home Front Defense Minister Vilnai (Independence), Homeland Security Minister Aharonovitch (Y.B.), Transportation Minister Katz (Likud) and Deputy Health Minister Litzman (U.T.J.).
  • Speaker Rivlin greeted the conference attendees of Jewish parliamentarians from around the world with a warm speech.
  • Eight motions were discussed on various topics and were sent for further discussion in committee by the votes 9-0, 6-0, 7-0, 9-0, 5-0, 4-2, 5-0 and 4-0.

 

Bills Summary

Amendment to the Planning and Building Bill

MK Levin (Likud) explained his amendment would allocate a fund for planning and building education institutions in local authorities. He said this bill is the idea of the Mayor of Kiryat Uno. Speaker Rivlin was surprised that the finance ministry agreed to designate funds for a certain purpose. Levin thanked Rivlin and said he was sure it will be an uphill battle to pass the bill into law.

Interior Minister Yishai (Shas) expressed government support for the bill.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 21-0 and was sent to the Education Committee. Speaker Rivlin said the bill should have gone to the Interior Committee but said the MKs can choose which committee  they want even if it is against protocol.

Amendment to the Temporary Provisions on the Assistance to Sderot and Western Negev Bill

MK Hermesh (Kadima) explained his amendment would prevent the cancellation of tax benefits for people who live in Sderot and the Western Negev. The amendment would extend the benefits through 2011 but would leave to the Finance Minister the decision to extend the provision from 2012 and beyond. He reported that Sderot is blooming and has survived the rocket fire from Gaza. Hermesh told a joke about Moroccans who can’t pronounce Sderot correctly because they mix up the pronunciation of the letters shin and sin.

Deputy Finance Minister Cohen (Shas) called on Hermesh to wipe the joke off the official protocol, stressing that, as a Moroccan, he is deeply offended by the joke. Hermesh agreed. Afterwards Cohen expressed government support for the bill.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 37-0 and was sent to the Funds Committee.

Armenian Genocide Day Bill/Motion

MK Eldad (N.U.) talked about how in his childhood he visited the Aaronson House, a symbol of the Jewish struggle against the British Mandate. He stated that there he learned about the Armenian genocide and subsequently read many books on the subject. He said that until now most of the world denies the fact that Armenians were massacred. He noted only 22 countries recognize Armenian Genocide Day and explained his bill would make Israel the 23rd. He noted that Hitler carried out the holocaust because he knew the world would ignore the killing of the Jews as they did the killing of the Armenians. He noted Turkey at first confessed to killing 300,000 then, in 1919, 800,000, while Turkey’s ally Germany estimated the number at 1.5 million. He noted America, Canada and France are among the 22 countries that have recognized the genocide and called on Israel to join the leading democratic countries in doing so. He blasted Turkey for attacking Israel in every international arena and for sending the flotilla. He connected the Turkish government to the IHH, a terrorist organization which the Turkish government forbade from participating in the second flotilla. He said it is right and smart to recognize the genocide. He slammed the government and the leading opposition party, Kadima, for opposing his bill and denying the genocide.

Speaker Rivlin noted that he supported the Armenian delegation and the delegation of Jewish parliamentarians from various democracies sitting in the gallery. He openly supported and announced his solidarity with Eldad and his bill.

National Infrastructure Minister Landau (Y.B.) agreed there was genocide of the Armenian people in 1915-1916, which were the final years of the Ottoman Empire. He said Israel never denied the tragedy but has opposed the politicizing of it. He explained that Turkey and Armenia are in discussions on the issue and said Israel has no place there and should leave it an internal issue between those two parties. He suggested turning the bill into a motion. Eldad agreed after Rivlin suggested it would be a step in the right direction to at least discuss it in a committee.

The motion passed 25-1 and was sent to the Education Committee.

Motion/Amendment to the Tenant Protection Bill

MK Sarsur (R.T.) explained his amendment would prohibit the evacuation of a person from his house. He said that hundreds of families are thrown out of their homes every year either because the landlords are kicking them out on the street for failing to pay rent or because they don’t pay taxes. He stressed his bill would prevent this from happening. Speaker Rivlin said he was worried that this bill would cause landlords not to rent apartments to poor people.

Justice Minister Neeman opposed the bill on the grounds that people will stop paying rent and paying taxes if they are not worried about being evicted. He offered government support for a motion on the subject, and Sarsur agreed.

The motion passed 31-0 with one MK abstaining and was sent to the Finance Committee.

Motion/Amendment to the Collection of Taxes Bill

MK Sheetrit (Kadima) explained his amendment would prohibit the possessing of a debtor’s property or bank account because of parking debts in the first year after receiving a fine. He said the cities have turned parking fines into money makers and are trigger happy on freezing bank accounts and credit cards without warning the person first.

Deputy Finance Minister Cohen said Sheetrit’s bill makes a lot of sense but the government opposes the bill because of pressure from the local authorities. He asked Sheetrit to turn the bill into a motion to keep the issue alive.

The motion passed 34-0 and was sent to the Interior Committee.

Amendment to the Independence House Bill

MK Sheetrit explained his amendment would prevent the transfer of the Bible House in the Independence House from the State to the municipality of Tel Aviv. He noted the library has 800 Bibles from the last 400 years, written in 160 different languages. He said the room where the State was declared should remain the property of all Israelis and not be given to Tel Aviv. He slammed the NIS 1 million rent that was placed on the Bible House. He said the connection between the Bible and the founding of the State is undeniable and it is a scandal to think that the Bible House and the room where Israel was created should be given to Tel Aviv so they can evict them.

Culture and Sport Minister Livnat (Likud) expressed government opposition to the bill on the grounds that the current bill allows the Independence House to govern itself without the government interfering. She said the government is against private organizations receiving protection through the law and is against the government making decisions over the Independence House Council.

MK Sheetrit asked the government why they are clinging to legal technicalities instead of keeping the Bible inside the house where Israel was created. Prime Minister Netanyahu asked Sheetrit to delay the vote or turn the bill into a motion and assured him that he will personally take care of the situation. Sheetrit said there isn’t enough time to prevent it without passing the bill. Netanyahu agreed to help Sheetrit even though Sheetrit was forcing him to vote against the bill.

The bill was defeated 19-30.

Amendment to the Consumer Protection Bill

MK Tiviaev (Kadima) explained his amendment would prohibit the placement of advertisements on cars or vehicles. He stressed this bill is good for the environment because it will prevent littering and will prevent road accidents caused by having many advertisements on the ground. He slammed all the ministers for claiming they support the bill while the government is against it.

Industry and Trade Minister Simhon (Independence) allowed the Kadima MKs to heckle him for about ten minutes because the coalition didn’t have a majority in the plenum. He answered Tiviaev that the government is against the bill because it is not a matter of consumer protection and rather a matter of the environment. He said the government is against having amendments to laws in the wrong places.

MK Tiviaev said he doesn’t even know if the government would support the bill if he did change it. He slammed the government for playing games with him and not taking the opposition seriously. He asked the other MKs for advice on what he should do and ultimately decided to proceed with the vote.

The bill was defeated 16-29.

Amendment to the Evidence Ordinance Bill

MK Solodkin explained her amendment would prohibit a conviction based solely on the defendant’s confession in cases when there is no evidence to convict the defendant. She said many times detectives force confessions out of people and later the defendants are released when the police find the real criminal.

Justice Minister Neeman expressed government opposition to the bill on the grounds that sometimes confessions are enough to convict. He said that many criminals will walk if this bill is passed. He told Solodkin she was going too far with the bill.

MK Solodkin said she didn’t feel her bill went too far.

The bill was defeated 8-19.

Amendment to the Handicapped Parking Bill

MK Gilon (Meretz) explained his amendment would prohibit anyone who isn’t a police officer from giving penalty charge notices or tickets to licensed handicap vehicles parked in no parking zones. He said there isn’t enough handicap parking zones so handicapped people park in no parking zones and they shouldn’t be ticketed by trigger happy city officials.

Minister Eitan (Likud) warned that Gilon’s bill would hurt the handicapped instead of helping them. He suggested passing legislation that would increase the amount of handicap parking and give city inspectors sensitivity training for dealing with the handicapped. He agreed the city inspectors are trigger happy and suggested giving the job to someone else but not wasting police resources on parking violations. He suggested turning the bill into a motion so all sides- the government, the local authorities and the handicapped- could discuss the matter in committee.

MK Gilon read out the current law, which he claimed is not being followed, and said that is why his bill is necessary. He said he is willing to delay the vote for two weeks but refused to turn the bill into a motion.

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