Archive for August, 2011


The latest poll published in Makor Rishon shows that despite the protests in the streets Prime Minister Netanyahu would gain two seats and the Right would gain an overall five. Kadima would drop three seats, and the Left would lose four seats overall. A different poll published by Globes and the Jerusalem Post shows different results.

Telephone poll of a representative sample of 506 adult Israelis carried out by Maagar Mohot Survey Institute (headed by Professor Yitzchak Katz) the week of August 1, 2011, for Makor Rishon and published on August 5, 2011.

If elections held today (expressed in Knesset seats) Current Knesset seats in [brackets].

29 [27] Likud
25 [28] Kadima
16 [15] Yisrael Beitenu
13 [11] Shas
11 [08] Labor (Headed by MK Shelly Yacimovich)
05 [05] Yahadut Hatorah/UTJ
04 [04] National Union
04 [03] Meretz
03 [03] Jewish Home/NRP
09 [11] Arab parties
01 [05] Independence (Ehud Barak)

Who is most appropriate to be prime minister? Netanyahu, Livni, Liberman or Yacimovich?

Netanyahu 51% Livni 28% Liberman 17% Yacimovich 4%

An interesting scenario poll that asked potential voters which party they would vote for if the leaders of the tent movement formed a party compared to a poll without the tent movement party paints a clear picture of which voters are supporting the housing protest. According to the poll the Tent Party would receive 16 of its 20 seats from the left wing parties, four seats from Likud and none from the other nationalistic parties. The poll presents the Tent Party as the second biggest party in Israel behind Likud and shows Israeli liberals’ frustration with their current parties and leaders. The right maintains a majority whether the fictional party is created or not (63 vs 67).

Telephone poll of 500 adult Israelis carried out by Smith Institute for Globes and The Jerusalem Post on 1 August, 2011 and published 3 August, 2011.

If elections held today (expressed in Knesset seats) Current Knesset seats in [brackets].

25 19 [28] Kadima
26 22 [27] Likud
15 15 [15] Yisrael Beitenu
12 12 [11] Shas
11 07 [08] Labor
06 06 [05] Yahadut Hatorah/ UTJ
05 05 [04] National Union
04 00 [03] Meretz
03 03 [03] Jewish Home/NRP
11 11 [11] Arab parties
02 00 [00] Green party
00 00 [05] Independence (Ehud Barak)
— 20 [---] Social Economic Party led by the current leaders of the housing protests

Will the next election be advanced from its current date of October 22, 2013, due to the protests and the expected United Nations General Assembly vote on a Palestinian state next month?: No 50% Yes 29% No opinion 21%

Loyal Readers,

The Knesset went into recess effective 3:30 AM Thursday morning following the summer session’s 34th day of work. The Knesset will enjoy an 88 day vacation, returning for the beginning of the winter session on Monday, October 31. I will cover the last four days of the summer session, but it will take a bit of time due to the influx of bills and filibuster speeches. Over the recess I will cover polls and any special sessions that might be convened.

Jeremy

Last Tuesday’s session lasted about four and a half hours. Three bills were discussed and advanced in their first readings. The motion on the housing crisis was the highlight of the day as the coalition and opposition MKs fired accusations at each other over who was to blame for the housing shortage, as well as what the solutions should be. Most of the one minute speeches were also on the subject of the housing crisis. The highlight bill was the extension of tax benefits to Sderot and the western Negev.
Non-Bills Summary

  • 22 MKs spoke during the one minute speech segment of the day. Most spoke about the housing crisis and reactions to the tent city.
  • A motion marking twenty years since Operation Shlomo brought Ethiopian Jews to Israel was discussed by Speaker Rivlin, Minister Eitan (Likud), Opposition Leader Livni and Ethiopian MK Molla (Kadima). The motion was meant to be symbolic and was not voted on.
  • House Committee Chairman Levin (Likud) announced that MK Azoulay (Shas) replaced MK Amnon Cohen (Shas) in the Funds Committee but MK Cohen will serve as a permanent substitute. He stated that MK Azoulay also replaced MK Michaeli (Shas) in the People’s Petitions Committee. He added that MK Rotem (Y.B.) replaced MK Kirshenbaum (Y.B.) in the House Committee.
  • Nine MKs asked Transportation Minister Katz (Likud) queries during a question hour.
  • A motion on the Housing Crisis was discussed by five MKs and Housing and Construction Minister Atias (Shas). It passed 11-0 and was sent to the House Committee to determine whether the Interior or Funds Committee should discuss it further.
  • Transportation Minister Katz answered four additional queries at the end of the session.

 

Bills Summary

Amendment to the Insurance Contracts Bill

Interior Committee Chairman Cohen (Shas) explained the amendment would change the cancellation policy of insurance companies so that a customer needs to pay insurance until the date he cancelled the policy and does not have to pay from that time until the policy is deactivated. He explained that certain insurance companies require certain forms in writing that goes through official mail and the process can take over a week and until now the insurance companies have squeezed additional money from the consumer during the period of time he is not officially covered.

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

Amendment to the Income Tax Ordinance Bill

MK Shemtov (Y.B.) explained the amendment would present college students who are working as interns in their future occupation or specialty with income tax points.

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

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

MK Hermesh (Kadima) explained the temporary provisions would extend the tax benefits for residents and business in Sderot and the western Negev. He slammed the government for hesitating to extend the provisions until the latest wave of rockets hit Sderot earlier in the month. He said the extension will be for two years. He called on the government to support the dairy industry in the western Negev and not to import dairy goods.

MK Zeev (Shas) recalled that during election time everyone promises Sderot and Negev residents everything and he is proud that this government is the one to give the residents what they deserve. He told the residents that he will stand with them before September, during September and after September.

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

Last Monday’s session lasted about six hours. Eight bills were discussed, although over half of the session was spent discussing four no-confidence motions that were ultimately defeated. Four bills became law after passing their third readings, and another four were advanced after passing their first readings. The government request to extend the ban on Palestinians who wish to receive Israeli citizenship as part of the family reunification clause to the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Bill was approved. One of the bills advanced seeks to create an Israeli Ethiopian television channel despite Ethiopian MK Molla’s protests.

 

Non-Bills Summary

  • Kadima’s no-confidence motion titled ‘The Netanyahu government’s failure in the economic sector causes price increases in all sectors of the economy’ was defeated 37-52 with 31 MKs not present.
  • Labor and Meretz’s joint no-confidence motion titled ‘Destroying the social fabric and deliberately deepening the gaps and distortions in housing, health and education, as well as damaging Israel’s democracy’ was defeated 39-53 with 28 MKs not present.
  • Hadash, Ra’am-Ta’al and Balad’s joint no-confidence motion titled ‘The national housing shortage, including the Arab sector’ was defeated 18-53 with 9 MKs abstaining and 40 MKs not present.
  • National Union’s no-confidence motion titled ‘The freeze policy in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria is dragging the country into a severe housing crisis’ was defeated 8-54 with 13 MKs abstaining and 45 MKs not present.
  • Interior Minister Yishai (Shas) presented the government’s request to extend a temporary provision order that prohibits Palestinians that marry Israelis from receiving Israeli citizenship under the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Bill. 18 MKs, mostly from the opposition, gave speeches on the extension that has been systematically renewed since 2003. It was approved 34-10.
  • House Committee Chairman Levin (Likud) announced MK Bar-On (Kadima) will replace MK Solodkin (Kadima) in the State Comptroller Committee and MK Majadele (Labor) will serve as a permanent substitute in the Finance Committee instead of MK Tibi (Ra’am-Ta’al).
  • Finance Committee Chairman Shama (Likud) presented his committee’s request to split a bill into two. It was approved 15-0.
  • Funds Committee Chairman Gafni (U.T.J.) presented his committee’s request to split a bill into two. It was approved 15-0.

 

Bills Summary

Amendment to the Hostility Victims Compensation Bill

Labor, Welfare and Health Committee Chairman Katz (Likud) explained this bill was placed on the desk of his committee 12 days ago. He boasted that since then he has brought it to a first reading and now for its second and third readings. He said that it is even more impressive to be able to accomplish the feat with the clock towards the summer recess ticking down. He confessed he doesn’t usually wear a white shirt but has chosen to do so in honor of the bill. He stated the bill will give welfare entitlements to orphans whose parents were murdered in terrorist attacks. He said that the current system gives the life entitlement of NIS 5,050 a month to the spouse of a person who was murdered in a terrorist attack, but it doesn’t cover the children if both parents are murdered. He stressed this bill will give these orphans that 5,050 NIS a month for life.

The bill passed its second reading 64-0.

The bill passed its third reading 62-0.

MK Orlev (J.H.) said the country today righted a wrong for about 80 orphans from about 25 families that were robbed the money they deserved. He said he was very proud to sponsor this bill.

MK Itzik (Kadima) thanked her co-sponsor and apologized in the name of the country to the orphans who were sitting in the gallery. She screamed at Orlev for speaking loudly and disturbing her speech. She thanked Netanyahu for approving the bill despite its cost.

Amendment to the Pharmacists Ordinance Bill

Labor, Welfare and Health Committee Chairman Katz explained the amendment would extend the time a pharmaceutical company may keep the recipe of their new medications a secret to six or six and a half years depending on the type of drug. He noted that generic drugs take away a lot of money from pharmaceutical companies which discourage them from inventing new drugs, including drugs that can save lives. He said that by protecting the companies for six years the big companies will keep investing their money in research and development of drugs and the generic companies will no longer be able to piggyback on the larger companies.

The bill passed its second reading 28-0.

The bill passed its third reading 31-0.

Amendment to the National Insurance Bill

Labor and Welfare Minister Kahlon (Likud) explained his amendment would grant senior citizens who signed up late for their welfare entitlement three years worth of their entitlement retroactively. He said that many poor people and new immigrants are not aware that they must sign up to receive their entitlements and sometimes they end up going through the proper paperwork only years later after they realized the money wasn’t coming.

MK Yoel Hasson (Kadima) praised the socialist bill. He went on to blast the capitalistic government for ignoring the housing tent protesters. He stated he fully supports the protesters and expressed hope that they overthrow the government. He slammed Netanyahu for taking Menachem Begin’s socialism of the Likud and turning it into a disgusting capitalistic party.

MK Rotem (Y.B.) said he has two problems with the bill. He said the first is that the bill should determine that a citizen receives social security automatically because it is money that a citizen deserves. He didn’t mention his second problem.

The bill passed its first reading 25-0 and was sent to the Welfare Committee.

Amendment to the National Insurance Bill

Labor and Welfare Minister Kahlon explained the amendment would even the qualifying period for employees working weekly and monthly so that they receive an equal number of vacation days. He said the current situation is that a worker who receives a weekly wage needs to work for 300 days to qualify for vacation days compared to a worker who receives a monthly wage who needs to work 360 days to qualify. He said this is yet another injustice that he has discovered and he is proud to correct it.

MK Ben Ari (N.U.) expressed his support for the bill. He said that he feels the housing crisis needs to be solved and that communism isn’t the answer. He slammed the protesters for wanting to live in Tel Aviv for cheap and told them to go live somewhere else.

The bill passed its first reading 25-0 and was sent to the Welfare Committee.

Amendment to the Communications Bill

House Committee Chairman Levin (Likud) explained the amendment would require the government to fund an Amharic Ethiopian language channel on cable and satellite television. He slammed Ethiopian MK Molla (Kadima) for opposing the bill. Levin confessed the bill isn’t perfect because it wouldn’t be a free broadcast channel but said it is better than nothing. He thanked the Chief Ethiopian Rabbi for supporting the bill. MK Adatto (Kadima) accused Levin of pretending to care about Ethiopians. Levin screamed at Adatto and said he is proud to represent all Israelis, native and immigrants, Russians and Ethiopians. Deputy Speaker Vaknin (Shas) had to calm both sides down as they got into a screaming match, which Molla joined. Levin charged that Molla is against the bill because it is a coalition bill and he isn’t a co-sponsor.

MK Yoel Hasson said that if an Ethiopian MK is against the bill then it must be a bad bill and he will vote against it. He added that if Ethiopians have money for cable they probably don’t need the channel.

MK Molla (Kadima) said that he disagrees with Adatto and believes that Levin and co-sponsor MK Pinyan (Likud) have good intentions. He said that only 16,000 of the 40,000 Ethiopian families in Israel have cable and satellite. He said that an Ethiopian cable channel will not help the absorption process because over half of Ethiopians won’t be able to watch it and that is the half that need the channel. He said he will vote against any bill that doesn’t include a free public broadcast option. He said that this bill is abandoning 24,000 Ethiopian families.

MK Zeev (Shas) said he supports the 116,000 Ethiopians in Israel. Molla interrupted and said there are 130,000. Zeev asked Molla why there can be a Russian channel on cable but an Ethiopian channel is problematic. He slammed the Arab MKs for slamming the State of Israel on a daily basis on public Arab television channels and called on the government to reform it.

Communication Minister Kahlon said he couldn’t sit silently and listen to Molla’s lies. He said that the budget for the channel would be NIS 4.5 million and the Ethiopian channel would eventually be added to the DTT program, which provides many channels for a one-time payment of NIS 250. He slammed Molla, who kept heckling him, and told Molla that he is not updated on the information and he has turned this discussion personal.

The bill passed its first reading 20-3 and was sent to the Finance Committee.

Preventing Violence in Health Care Facilities Bill

Labor, Welfare and Health Committee Chairman Katz explained his original bill would keep mental patients who consistently physically or verbally attack asylum or hospital personnel out of that particular asylum or hospital. He added that the bill will also do the same to mental patients who destroy health care facility property.

The bill passed its second reading 17-0.

The bill passed its third reading 14-0.

Amendment to the Banking Bill

Finance Committee Chairman Shama (Likud) explained his amendment would force banks to sell their customers checks that have two stripes and say “to the payee only” unless otherwise specifically asked by the customer. He stated the reasoning for this is to prevent checks from changing hands many times and eventually not being able to be cashed causing someone to lose money.

The bill passed its second reading 15-0.

The bill passed its third reading 15-0.

Amendment to the National Insurance Bill

Labor, Welfare and Health Committee Chairman Katz explained the amendment would increase the income someone can earn and still be eligible for Holocaust survivor compensation entitlement benefits. He said that 20% of Holocaust survivors today are over 90 years old. He said they are being punished by not receiving certain benefits because they actually accomplished to rehabilitate their lives and are now not eligible for certain benefits. He said the Holocaust survivors paid a heavy price and the country was built because of them and thanks to them. He said every day another thirty Holocaust survivors die. He said about 80% are over the age of 80. He thanked Minister Peled (Likud) for fighting hard for this bill and promised him this bill will pass in its third reading before the Knesset goes into recess. He said this will show Israel’s compassion for the survivors.

MK Adatto (Kadima) said it is an embarrassment that the Knesset hasn’t passed this bill already. She said she is proud to co-sponsor the bill and thanked Chairman Katz for advancing it.

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

The June 20 session lasted thirteen and a half hours. Fourteen bills were discussed. Eleven bills were advanced after passing their preliminary readings, one bill was turned into a motion to avoid defeat, one was pulled to avoid defeat and one was defeated. Votes to establish two Knesset inquiry committees that would examine Israeli liberal organizations who are delegitimizing the Israeli military and foreign governments purchasing Israeli land were defeated. The government did not take a stand on the inquiry committees, and that allowed liberal members of the coalition to either vote against them or be absent from the votes. Another highlight of the day was the only bill defeated that would have given housing subsidies to young couples, students and the homeless. The government asked sponsor MK Molla (Kadima) to delay the vote on the bill in order to rally up support but Molla refused.  A controversial amendment that would apply the Museum Bill to Judea and Samaria was advanced.

 

Non-Bills Summary

  • Housing Minister Atias (Shas), 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.
  • Funds Committee Chairman Gafni (U.T.J.) announced his committee’s decision regarding the raising of customs taxes of tilapia and other fish. The measures were approved by votes of 50-0 and 51-0.
  • The Knesset discussed the House Committee’s request to establish parliamentary inquiry committees on the subjects of ‘the involvement of foreign governments and Israeli organizations in financed land purchases in Israel’ and ‘the activity of Israeli organizations taking part in the campaign to delegitimize the IDF’ headed by MKs Kirshenbaum (Y.B.) and Danon (Likud), respectively. 57 MKs gave speeches on the subject in a discussion that lasted for hours. Both House Committee requests were defeated by votes of 28-57 with 35 MKs not present.
  • Constitution, Law and Justice Committee Chairman Rotem announced his committee’s request to apply the continuity clause on a bill. The Knesset will vote on the request in two weeks.
  • Five of the six motions discussed were sent to committee for further discussion following votes of 10-0, 9-0, 8-0, 7-0 and 6-0. One of the motions was defeated 1-7.
  • Homefront Defense Minister Vilnai (Independence) answered six queries from about midnight until about 12:30 AM to close the long session.

 

Bills Summary

Motion/Amendment to the National Health Insurance Bill

MK Eichler (U.T.J.) explained his amendment would provide free transportation for all ambulance rides back and forth from the hospital. He said he proposed the bill seven months ago when he entered the Knesset and the government has systematically opposed it since then. He slammed the current practice that sick people need to pay for their ambulance rides. He noted cancer patients visit the hospital several times a month for chemo treatments and must pay their own way.

Deputy Health Minister Litzman (U.T.J.) responded he agrees with the bill but there are not enough funds in his ministry’s budget to support it. He suggested turning the bill into a motion and to discuss in committee which aspects of the bill could be passed. He said that there are many people who are sent home and not admitted to the hospital every day and this bill would cost millions if the current version of the bill was passed.

Labor and Welfare Minister Kahlon (Likud) revealed that he voted for the bill in the ministerial committee of legislative affairs. He said he will discuss the matter further in the committee and will try to assist in any way that he can to keep as much of the bill in place and to pass it.

Eichler agreed to turn his bill into a motion.

The motion passed 20-0 and was sent to the Health Committee.

Amendment to the Social Security Bill

MK Haim Katz (Likud) explained his amendment would increase the maximum allowable income for purposes of determining eligibility for holocaust survivors’ benefits. He said that someone who survived the hunger of the holocaust should be allowed to eat in Israel.

Labor and Welfare Minister Kahlon expressed government support for the bill.

Minister Peled (Likud) said that it is hard for him to be a moderate when it comes to the holocaust. He said as the only current holocaust survivor elected to the Knesset he feels this bill must be expanded. He thanked MK Katz and told him to seek more compensation for holocaust survivors. Speaker Rivlin expressed his support for Peled’s words. Peled revealed that he was told to restrain himself and not speak on the issue but said he cannot restrain himself on anything that has to do with the just rights of the survivors. He said that there are few survivors left and something must be done before it’s too late.

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

Amendment to the Pre-Military Bill

MK Orlev (J.H.) explained his amendment would assign the responsibility of funding the pre-military educational institutions to the education ministry. He noted that the current situation that requires both the defense and education ministries to fund the institutions results in the two ministries pushing the responsibility of funding on the other, resulting in no funding.

Deputy Education Minister Moses (U.T.J.) expressed government support for the bill.

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

Amendment to the Museums Bill

MK Orbach (J.H.) explained his amendment would allow all youth under 18 and all soldiers to visit all of Israel’s museums for free. He said that an average family museum visit can cost over 200 shekels per family and this bill will lower that number tremendously. He stated this will start a cultural revolution.

Culture and Sport Minister Livnat (Likud) expressed government support for the bill. She expressed hope to make museums free for everyone in the future. She revealed that the entire annual budget for Israel’s museums stands at a low NIS 39.5 million and the overall budget allotment for Israeli culture is just 0.2%. She added that the bill will only include children who come with their parents and not children who come in groups, such as school trips or summer camps.

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

Amendment to the Social Security Bill

MK Michaeli (Shas) explained his amendment would allow someone to receive disability insurance and still qualify for social security. He noted that under the current law a person must choose whether to receive disability insurance or social security. He asked why a person would pay both if he isn’t allowed to receive both and said the answer is the law should be changed so that he may receive both.

Labor and Welfare Minister Kahlon expressed government support for the bill.

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

Amendment to the Communications Bill

MK Levi-Abekasis explained her amendment would require Bezeq and other communications companies to add 1202, the telephone hotline for victims of sexual assault, to the list of free phone numbers. She said the hotline should be free and this bill will accomplish that. She noted the average call to the hotline is longer than to other emergency services and the people who call are typically poor people. She added the bill will require the companies not to list the hotline on the monthly bill sent in the mail. She expressed hope this will protect the abused from their spouses. She added the bill will require the hotline be included in the mandatory emergency numbers on electronic phones.

Communications Minister Kahlon expressed government support for the bill.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 27-0 and was sent to the House Committee to determine which committee will discuss the bill further.

Amendment to the Ports Ordinance Bill

MK Levin (Likud) explained his amendment would require the government to be responsible for customs agents’ liabilities against importing and exporting companies’ claims. He added that customs agents shouldn’t be left out to dry for doing their jobs.

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

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

Amendment to the Local Authorities Elections Bill

MK Ezra (Kadima) explained his amendment would require the local authority to follow the voting process of national elections regarding people who may vote while accompanied by another person as a result of an illness or disability. He explained that currently the local authority process is looser and allows certain people to take advantage of it by forcing someone to vote for a certain party. He added that the Supreme Court ruled that the Knesset should fix this issue as soon as possible to avoid further violations.

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

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

Amendment to the Workers’ Working Conditions Bill

MK Yacimovich (Labor) explained her amendment would place civil sanctions on employers whose workers work in unfit conditions or have had their rights violated.

Industry and Trade Minister Simhon (Independence) expressed government support for the bill.

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

Amendment to the Population Registration Bill

MK Cabel (Labor) explained his amendment would allow the determination of who can be considered Jewish for registration purposes by a rabbinical court ruling. He said that if someone is considered Jewish according to the rabbinical court they should be Jewish according to the interior ministry.

Interior Minister Yishai expressed government support for the bill.

MK El-Sana (R.T.) opposed the bill on the grounds that he wants the bill to have a similar clause regarding who is considered Muslim. He also called on the population registration to add to their database the Arabs who live in unrecognized cities.

MK Azoulay (Shas) supported Cabel’s bill and said it is among the most important bills he has seen. He added that this will prevent Jewish people from being labeled as non-Jews.

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

Amendment to the Museums Bill

MK Ariel (N.U.) explained the amendment would allow the application of the museum law in Judea and Samaria. He stated that for years MKs have tried to pass this bill due to the defense ministry’s general persecution of the residents of Judea and Samaria and said their culture is yet another example of this.

Culture and Sport Minister Livnat (Likud) expressed government support for the bill. She said it is unacceptable that residents in Ma’aleh Adumim, Ariel and Kiryat Arba do not have equal rights to those in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. She slammed the press for pushing her hard on this bill. She stressed that the government doesn’t discriminate against those who live in Judea and Samaria. She read out several letters from 1999 and onwards that show the defense ministry illegally held up funds designated for the museums and culture in Judea and Samaria. She listed several museums that are currently prohibited from receiving her ministry’s funding and said after this bill is passed they will be allowed to receive it. She slammed Defense Minister Barak for holding it up personally for most of the last twelve years, noting he was the minister in charge from 1999-2001 and again from 2007-2011. Deputy Speaker Vaknin (Shas) told Livnat to finish her speech and said it is unacceptable that she should give a speech that is over 20 minutes long. Livnat said the bill was very important and eventually stepped off the podium.

MK El-Sana objected to the bill, claiming that Jews are living illegally in Judea and Samaria and that those Jews are living out of Israel’s territories. He said this bill is illegal without the Palestinian Authority’s approval and that it will set a dangerous precedent that will be worse than the boycott bill. He called on the MKs to vote against a bill that would be thrown out as illegal in international courts.

MK Ariel called on the MKs to support his bill and to fund museums in Judea and Samaria.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 51-9 and was sent to the Culture Committee.

Amendment to the Security Agency Bill

MK Yisrael Hasson (Kadima) explained his amendment would set new conditions for exemption from the army because of religious conviction reasons. He said the time has come to reexamine how the army determines who is a religious girl who can opt out of the army and who is pretending to be religious. He explained that he has agreed to delay the vote on his bill until the findings of a new committee that will examine solutions to the problem. He revealed the committee will consist of him, Elkin, Matalon and ultra-orthodox MKs. He said that he will vote on the bill at any point he feels the committee isn’t satisfying him with any results.

Amendment to the Planning and Building Bill

MK Molla (Kadima) explained his amendment would force the government to make available affordable housing to students, young couples and the homeless. He added the bill would also give subsidies to those populations for housing. He suggested his bill is the only way to solve the housing crisis and said every other solution the government presents is too capitalistic and not helpful for the average citizen. Deputy Speaker Vaknin agreed that the government isn’t doing enough and they should expect demonstrations the size of Egypt if they don’t provide their own solutions. Vaknin asked Molla to delay the vote on the bill and to let him talk to the government. Molla responded that his bill was defeated six months ago and it will be defeated again now. Vaknin again pleaded with Molla, but Molla refused.

Interior Minister Yishai said he agrees with the bill but disagrees with Molla trying to blackmail him. He revealed that the government told Molla on Sunday they needed more time to examine the bill and to postpone the vote for two weeks but instead Molla chose political gain over solving the housing crisis. He called on Molla to work with him and expressed his willingness to fight for this bill with the coalition if he agrees to delay the vote. He said he would use all of his strength in order to pass this important bill. Vaknin called on Molla to listen to Yishai. Yishai warned Molla he would submit a similar bill and take all the credit if Molla chose to be stubborn.

MK Molla refused to pull the bill. Vaknin told him he was making a mistake. Molla asked for a name roll call in order to embarrass the coalition MKs.

The bill was defeated 40-48.

Digital Textbooks Bill

MK Wilf (Independence) was heckled heavily for about five minutes straight from the Kadima MKs. Deputy Speaker Vaknin restored order.  Wilf explained that her original bill would require all new textbooks to be published digitally at half the price of the printed version. She expressed hope this would encourage more local authorities to teach more classes electronically. She praised local authorities that offer such classes, such as Petah Tikva, Bat Yam and Ganei Tikva. She stressed that digital textbooks will make studying easier for a generation that is growing up with other technological breakthroughs.

Deputy Education Minister Moses expressed government support for the bill. He said that within five years all textbooks will have a digital version. He noted that all textbook publishers that offer a digital version in the next year will receive financial compensation from the country. He said the digital textbooks will be protected from piracy.

MK Michaeli (Y.B.) noted the book publishers made NIS 450 million in 2009 and NIS 1 billion in 2010 and said the number is expected to be higher for 2011. She said that steps must be taken to regulate and supervise the textbook industry in Israel. She said she would abstain on the bill because it doesn’t set a cap.

MK Gafni (U.T.J.) objected to the bill on the grounds that the ultra-orthodox education system opposes technology. He said he won’t let his three children learn from electronic books because it will lead to them using the internet. He said the country can do what they want to the State education system but he won’t accept it on his system.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 36-3 with one MK abstaining and was sent to the Education Committee.

The Tuesday, July 19, session lasted less than two hours. The day was shorter than usual because of the fast of the 17th of Tammuz. Four bills were discussed. Two bills became law after passing their third readings, and two were advanced after passing their first readings. The new laws will allow candidates in local elections to advertise on local radio and prohibit the publication of sex victims’ pictures without their permission. The bills advanced afford women living in public housing additional rights in cases of separation from one’s husband and force criminals who harm minors to pay their victims in a timely manner.

 

Non-Bill Summary

  • Nineteen MKs spoke during the one minute speech segment that opened the day. The main topic was the housing crisis.
  • MK Levi-Abekasis (Y.B.) announced the Labor, Welfare and Health Committee’s request to split a bill into two separate bills. The request was approved 13-0.

 

Bills Summary

Amendment to the Proposed Election Bill

MK Michaeli (Shas) explained the amendment would allow local authority election campaigns to extend their advertising methods, including the use of local radio stations. He expressed hope this would help the local radio stations financially.

The bill passed its second reading 7-0.

The bill passed its third reading 8-0.

MK Pinyan (Likud) thanked the MKs for supporting his bill.

Amendment to the Penal Code Bill

MK Michaeli (Shas) explained the amendment would not allow sex victims to have their pictures published without their permission. He said this bill would protect sex victims from the media and unwanted exposure.

The bill passed its second reading 9-0.

The bill passed its third reading 10-0.

MK Hotovely (Likud) thanked the MKs for supporting her bill.

Amendment to the Public Housing Tenant Rights Bill

MK Avraham Balila (Kadima) explained her amendment would define the rights of couples who are living in public housing during the separation process before divorce. She said the bill will ensure that the wife would retain the public house over the husband. She expressed hope this would encourage women to leave their husbands with the knowledge that they will get to keep their house.

MK Ben Ari (N.U.) revealed that every Sunday he meets the public in his office in the Tikva neighborhood of Tel Aviv. He reported that the public is hurting and he is there to feel their pain. He called on Israelis to return to morals and values.

The bill passed its first reading 14-0 and was sent to the Women’s Rights Committee.

Amendment to the Fines, Fees and Expenses Collection Center Bill

MK Levi-Abekasis (Y.B.) explained her amendment would ensure financial compensation for a minor who is a victim of a criminal offense. She reported that the courts and police don’t force those who hurt the minors to pay the money that is required by law. She explained that most of the time the courts allow a payment plan over a decade and the minor doesn’t receive the compensation in time to rehabilitate his life.

MK Ben Ari directed his speech at Minister Shalom and expressed his opposition to the idea of turning Sundays into a day of rest. He said the day of rest will be turned into another party day that Israel’s economy has no need for. He went on to praise MK Levi-Abekasis and her beautiful bills. He noted that Rav Kahane grew up with Sundays and supported them, but wondered what Kahane would say today.

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

Deputy Prime Minister Shalom (Likud) praised MK Levi Abekasis and her bill. He responded to MK Ben Ari that a long weekend will bring religious and secular people together. He noted that most Muslim countries have a day off on Sundays. He suggested more people would keep the Sabbath if they had another day to the weekend. He added the youth groups will double their attendance with a longer weekend. He concluded by saying Rav Kahane would support Sundays off.

The Monday, July 18, session lasted about six and a half hours. Thirteen bills were discussed. There are six news laws following approval in their third readings, and seven bills were advanced after passing their first readings. The government easily defeated three no-confidence motions. The themes of most of the speeches of the night were the housing crisis, divorce and the courts.  The highlight bill of the night was the orphan bill, which had the most speeches, received the most media coverage and was the talk of the Knesset’s hallways. Another interesting law names the producer as the sole owner of any music he produces.

 

Non-Bills Summary

  • Kadima’s no-confidence motion titled ‘The Netanyahu government’s failure in solving the housing shortage of the citizens of Israel and especially of young couples’ was defeated 37-51 with 32 MKs not present.
  • Labor and Meretz’s joint no-confidence motion titled ‘The government’s failure to prevent legislation that harms the democratic character of the State’ was defeated 34-54 with 32 MKs not present.
  • Hadash, Ra’am-Ta’al and Balad’s joint no-confidence motion titled ‘A failed government which threatens democracy’ was defeated 29-54 with 37 MKs not present.
  • Funds Committee Chairman Gafni (U.T.J.) announced his committee’s request to apply a continuity clause on a bill. The MKs have two weeks to declare opposition to the request.
  • Finance Committee Chairman Shama (Likud) announced his committee’s request to apply technical changes to two bills. The request was approved by a 6-0 vote.

 

Bills Summary

Amendment to the Antitrust Bill

Finance Committee Chairman Shama (Likud) explained the amendment would place limitations on businesses that would help the overall power of the market. He stated that when trusts are not limited they buy up entire markets, raise prices and eliminate competitors. He explained the new measure will place every company merger or buyout under a microscope and will allow the government to force the trusts to sell off some of their companies. He said that markets that are currently regulated will also be affected by the bill, with the regulator and the finance ministry both involved in determining who is a trust. He expressed hope this bill would break up monopolies and open the market to more competitors.

The bill passed its second reading 44-0.

The bill passed its third reading 53-0.

Temporary Provisions on the Amendment to the Israel Defense Army Radio Broadcasting Bill

Finance Committee Chairman Shama explained the amendment would extend the temporary provision that allows sponsorship, service announcements and advertising on the army radio stations despite their designation as public broadcast stations. He added that the provision has been extended several times since it was first introduced in 2005 to provide the stations with additional income and this extension will add another six months to the provision. He warned if this provision isn’t extended the stations might go bankrupt.

The bill passed its second reading 44-1.

The bill passed its third reading 43-1-1.

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

MK Khenin (Hadash) explained the amendment will allow members of the national parks, reserves and sites council to serve three terms, compared to the one term they are currently restricted to by law. He reminded the MKs that the council members’ terms would not be automatically extended; rather, they would have to be either re-elected or re-appointed.

The bill passed its second reading 27-0.

The bill passed its third reading 26-0 with one MK abstaining.

Amendment to the Civil Service Bill

Deputy Finance Minister Cohen (Shas) presented the only 2011 government bill to be defeated (with last week’s 15-19 vote). He explained the amendment would define new regulation surrounding the pension of land authority workers.

MK Eichler (U.T.J.) slammed the bill as unfair to other government workers since it provides land authority workers the ability to retire early and receive full benefits. He expressed support for the government’s facelift reform of the land authority but expressed regret for the high price that has to be paid to achieve it. He slammed the press for giving a couple dozen young kids media coverage for protesting the housing shortage when dozens of MKs have been protesting the housing shortage from the Knesset podium with no media coverage.

MK Molla (Kadima) charged this bill would hurt the land authority workers and is just another part of the government’s failed reform of the authority. He called on the government to buy 100,000 caravans that can serve as temporary homes while the country solves the housing crisis.

MK Ben Ari (N.U.) noted the housing crisis is out of hand. He mentioned that he lives in Judea and Samaria in a settlement called Karnei Shomron. He remarked that former Meretz MK Shulamit Aloni lives in the private land of the former Arab village El-Haram, now known as one of Israel’s most exclusive towns, Kfar Shmaryahu. He slammed her for living on conquered stolen land and noted that he doesn’t live on private Arab land. He said the building freeze has forced the children of settlers to live in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and lifting the freeze will stop that from happening. He praised the new boycott bill and slammed the government for boycotting the settlements and the settlers.

Finance Minister Steinitz (Likud) slammed the 19 opposition MKs who voted down the bill the previous week. He charged they are the ones who are prolonging the housing crisis by delaying the passage of this bill. He reminded those present that this bill is the last piece of the land authority reform and part of Bibi’s 100-day plan.

The bill passed its first reading 41-11 and was sent to the Labor Committee.

Amendment to the Real Estate Tax Bill

Finance Minister Steinitz reported that over the eight years of 2000-2008 the housing shortage increased by 80,000 building units. He announced the government has built more units this year, reducing the shortage to 60,000 units. He stated there are about 80,000 units that were bought as investments and are not being rented out and about 60,000 units in residential zoned areas that are being used for commercial purposes. He explained that 140,000 apartments that no one lives in create an additional burden on the housing shortage. He explained his amendment would create incentives that reduce the taxes on these 140,000 apartments if they are sold or rented in order to lower the demand for housing throughout the country. He noted the incentives would last through the end of 2012. He said in order to entice people to take the tax incentives, those who don’t sell or rent out their units by the end of 2012 will see a tax hike.

MK Swaid (Hadash) called on the prime minister to bring a supertanker to the Israeli Arab housing shortage because it is at its worst in that sector. He also called on legalizing the illegal housing in Arab cities.

MK Ariel (N.U.) asked if this bill will also take effect in Judea and Samaria. Justice Minister Neeman and Coalition Chairman Elkin (Likud) responded that it wouldn’t, and Ariel responded that they should be ashamed of themselves. He slammed the government for discriminating against the citizens in Judea and Samaria. He said the measures in this bill are, in typical government fashion, too little, too late and too slow. He blasted the government for freezing 10,000 approved units in Judea and Samaria and told his conservative friends there is a limit to how long they can hide behind Defense Minister Barak.

MK Eichler supported Ariel’s initiative to have this bill apply to Judea and Samaria as well. He expressed disappointment with the government’s discrimination of its citizens based on location and asked if the Israeli government was in violation of the new boycott law for doing so against hundreds of thousands of its citizens.

MK Ben Ari said this bill is an “empty bottle” and the government is lying to its people by promising this bill will solve the housing shortage. He said the easiest way to solve the housing shortage is to lift the freeze on previously approved units in Judea and Samaria and to add more. In conclusion he told the Tel Avivians protesting in tents that if they hadn’t welcomed 40,000 Sudanese into their city maybe they would have a place to rent or buy.

MK Zeev (Shas) defended the government and the bill. He slammed Molla and told him he has absolutely no idea what he is talking about and stressed his own experience of 15 years on the building and planning committee of Jerusalem.

MK Molla expressed support for the bill. Rather than slamming the bill he opted instead to slam the government for not applying this bill to the settlement blocks that would remain part of Israel after any peace agreement under every Israeli consensus. He said anyone who equates Ma’aleh Adumim and Gush Etzion with Yitzhar is an enemy of Zionism. He called on Netanyahu to build up the settlement blocks. He noted that under Olmert’s term 9,000 units were built in Judea and Samaria, all in the blocks. He concluded by repeating his demand that the government apply this law to the settlement blocks and build up the settlement blocks to solve the housing crisis.

MK Shai (Kadima) called this bill a band-aid for an illness that is in dire need of heavy medication. He slammed the housing crisis and blamed the current government for causing it.

The bill passed its first reading 40-1 with one MK abstaining and was sent to the Funds Committee.

Temporary Provision on the Courts Bill

Justice Minister Neeman explained the courts have too many unsolved cases, mainly due to the large number of cases that are stuck in the system. He said 60% of the cases in Tel Aviv are open, as well as 46% in Jerusalem and Haifa and 28% in the southern districts. He stated the increased caseloads have caused people to think twice about going to court and forces many settlements. He explained the temporary provision would enable judges to delegate certain civil cases from the lower courts to compulsory arbitration which would not use judges. He explained the provision would also allow judges more flexibility in prioritizing which cases to hear sooner and which can remain on the backburner. He mentioned the new measures are being passed as temporary provisions in order to examine their impact before making them permanent.

MK Ben Ari quoted American judges’ criticism of former Supreme Court President Aharon Barak and his political activism. He exposed the favoritism of the close knit Supreme Court justices who routinely appoint family members and friends to various court positions and grant them internships in preference to more qualified applicants. He slammed the courts for these unethical political appointments. He concluded by attacking Supreme Court President Beinisch for appointing her friends to the bench beside her. He noted she has been torpedoing attempts to raise the number of Supreme Court judges in Israel from 14 to 18, allowing her to keep her power and, as a result, keep the number of open cases among the highest in the western world.

MK Levin (Likud) called the bill a breakthrough that will make the courts more efficient. He went on to slam the Supreme Court’s judgment in the recent Durrani case and told Neeman that this proves that the way justices are selected needs to be changed immediately.

MK El-Sana (R.T.) defended the Durrani judgment and spent five minutes slamming Levin and Ben Ari in particular, and all other conservative MKs in general. He defended MK Zoabi (Balad) and blasted the ethics committee for sanctioning her.

MK Zeev said democracy is in trouble as long as El-Sana is an MK. He went on to slam the Supreme Court for undermining the authority of the religious courts. He blasted the courts for taking a year and a half on average before even setting a date for the actual trial.

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

Deputy Speaker Whbee (Kadima) was upset by the noise coming from a conversation on the other side of the room, so he called MK Miller (Y.B.) to order and suspended Miller’s assistant’s entry to the plenum for two weeks.

Amendment to the Hostility Victims Compensation Bill

MK Itzik (Kadima) explained under current Israeli law that if both parents die in a terrorist attack the entitlement package that is supposed to be granted to the children is not possible, because the current law provides that grant only to spouses and not children. She explained this amendment will correct that and allow the orphans to receive the entitlements that they deserve. She slammed the current law because it meant the children had to pay for their psychologists and their parents’ burials. She slammed the radical left who labeled this bill the “Fogel Bill,” noting this bill was written before the massacre in Itamar. She thanked the sponsor of the bill, MK Orlev (J.H.), and MK Haim Katz (Likud) for assisting in advancing this bill.

MK Ariel said this is one of the most just bills he has ever read and expressed his support for all orphans, particularly those who lost both parents in terrorist attacks.

MK Hotovely (Likud) said a bill like this doesn’t need one lobbyist. She expressed her support for the NIS 4 million that will be spent on the 80 children from 22 affected families. She asked the opposition to take politics out of the discussion because the government fully supports this bill.

MK Yaakov Katz (N.U.) called the orphans national heroes and expressed support for the bill. He listed the names of people he knew personally who were murdered in various terrorist attacks. He called on the government to build more homes in Judea and Samaria in the name of those who have fallen.

MK Haim Katz (Likud) remembered his meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu while he was forming his government. He recalled turning down a ministry position to serve as the chairman of the Labor, Welfare and Health Committee. He took credit for passing the bill and revealed that MKs Orlev and Itzik were both willing to water down the bill they sponsored, while he refused. He announced that he fought for the orphan bill and received Netanyahu’s blessing, just as he had received Netanyahu’s blessing on the widow’s bill that he passed. He assured the bill will be passed before the end of the summer session and this saga will come to an end. He slammed the ministers who opposed the bill or wished to place restrictions on it. He suggested that if it wasn’t for him this bill wouldn’t have passed.

MK Ben Ari said he was embarrassed the government needs to pass this bill and that the law doesn’t already exist. He recalled the assassination ten years ago of his friend Rav Binyamin Kahaneh and his wife, who left six orphans who never received the benefits they would have if their mother had survived. He described the hardships those six orphans had over the last decade and wondered if their lives would have been a bit different had this law existed then.

MK Zeev called this bill the most humane and moral bill he can recall. He rejected claims that members of the coalition are opposed to the bill.

MK Zuaretz (Kadima) said orphans are the responsibility of the country and if the country doesn’t take care of them nobody will.

MK Schneller (Kadima) praised the sponsors and expressed support for the bill. He said it is sad that some MKs would not have supported the bill had the budget been over NIS 5 million.

MK Orlev (J.H.) noted that one of the orphans who was sitting in the gallery watching the discussion is 15 years old and, as every orphan, is not listed in any Teudat Zehut (Israeli identification card). He slammed the Knesset for making it difficult for him to enter the building and the gallery. He blasted former governments for not passing his bill sooner. He thanked Netanyahu, Finance Minister Steinitz and Labor and Welfare Minister Kahlon for supporting the bill and allocating funds for the bill to be implemented. He thanked his co-sponsor Itzik but didn’t mention Haim Katz.

The bill passed its first reading 41-0 and was sent to the Welfare Committee.

Amendment to the Payment Dates by Debiting and Deposit Bill

Finance Committee Chairman Shama explained the amendment would give the consumer more control over companies who collect monthly automatic withdrawals. He announced the consumer will now be able to choose the day of the month he wants the transaction to take place. He noted that local authorities will be included along with all commercial companies that must follow the new rules. He envisioned a family who can decide for themselves when they want to receive their monthly bills for swimming pools, taxes, education costs and water.

The bill passed its second reading 12-0.

The bill passed its third reading 12-0.

MK Maklev (U.T.J.) thanked the Knesset and the MKs for approving his bill.

Amendment to the Proposal of the Equal Opportunities Bill

Women’s Rights Chairwoman Hotovely explained the amendment would grant women who are self-employed the same benefits as women who are salaried workers. She thanked the bill’s sponsor, Orlev, and noted she has learned a lot from him. She also thanked her staff.

The bill passed its second reading 10-0.

The bill passed its third reading 10-0.

MK Orlev thanked Hotovely for her work on this bill and her work in general.

Amendment to the Rabbinical Courts Bill

MK Schneller announced there are about 190 women who refuse to receive a get that would grant them their divorce and there are about the same number of men who refuse to give a get to their wives.  He expressed hope his amendment would lower that number considerably. He noted that in most cases the case was dragged out in court and if things hadn’t gone out of control divorce could have been accomplished. He explained the bill would present the judges the tools of using multiple sanctions on the side that refuses a divorce within a 90-day period that would hopefully result in all cases being solved within that three-month time frame. He added the bill requires a court session every two weeks following the first 90 days in order to further encourage the process of completing the divorce. He praised the rabbinical judges for doing a great job and mentioned that several of them helped him formulate the bill.

The bill passed its first reading 7-0 with one MK abstaining and was sent to the Justice Committee.

Amendment to the Rabbinical Courts Bill

MK Orlev explained that his amendment is similar to Schneller’s bill. He explained it will enable the courts to grant restraining orders and supervise the implementation of them and other court decisions. He added it would force judges to convene before any court decisions are due to expire.

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

Amendment to the Local Authorities Bill

Funds Committee Chairman Gafni (U.T.J.) explained the amendment would determine which party in a joint electoral list is responsible for local authority election expenses.

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

Amendment to the Copyright Bill

Deputy Speaker Whbee almost skipped the last bill, which MK Shama was to present. Shama entered the plenum a few seconds after the previous vote, just before Whbee was about to close the session. Whbee blasted Shama for showing up late, and Shama responded he had been called into an urgent meeting with Netanyahu regarding the housing crisis.

Finance Committee Chairman Shama explained the bill would give the ownership of music or a record to the producer of the music and not to the performer. He explained the producer makes everything happen and therefore should own the music. He noted that for purposes of ownership, the producer will be recognized as the person who is listed as a producer on the record or single. Shama and Whbee started to mumble out of sheer exhaustion.

The bill passed its second reading 6-0.

The bill passed its third reading 5-0.

MK Yariv Levin slammed Whbee for repeatedly calling him Dov Levin. He thanked the MKs who stayed up late in order to approve his bill.

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