Archive for November, 2011


Last Wednesday’s session lasted about eight hours. Ten bills were discussed. One bill was advanced after passing its preliminary reading, and five were defeated. One bill was turned into a motion, and three bills postponed their votes in order not to be defeated. The bill advanced will present veterans who work in preferred jobs for six months following their military service a one-time grant of NIS 9,000. Among the bills defeated were a bill that would have eliminated the VAT on water, a bill that would have mandated daycare for all businesses with over 100 employees and a bill that would have created a holding center for illegal immigrants.

Non-Bills Summary

* Deputy Health Minister Litzman (U.T.J.), Homeland Security Minister Aharonovitch (Y.B.), Deputy Finance Minister Cohen (Shas) and Interior Minister Yishai (Shas) answered urgent queries at the beginning of the session.

* Eight motions were discussed on various topics of the day. Six motions went for further discussion by committee after votes of 10-0, 11-1, 10-0, 10-0, 5-0 and 4-0. Two motions were not voted on.

Bills Summary

Amendment to the Social Security Bill

Social Welfare Minister Kahlon (Likud) explained the amendment would grant a one-time grant of NIS 9,000 to a veteran who completed six months of work in a preferred job. He added that reserve duty will not be counted against the six months.

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

Amendment to the Increasing the Labor Force Participation Rate and Reducing Social Gaps Bill

MK Zoabi (Balad) explained her amendment would change the definition of employee under Israeli law by covering part time employees of family businesses under the bill. She added that the bill would raise the salary of employees who don’t make enough to be taxed. She said the gap between the rich and poor is growing every day and this bill will work towards trying to reverse that trend.

Speaker Rivlin slammed the bill and said that the outcome would be everyone would create a family business and would force the government to pay money to over half of the country, leading to a financial meltdown. He warned that this would give incentive to people to hire their children to a bogus family business that doesn’t make money and force the government to pay them.

Deputy Finance Minister Cohen (Shas) expressed government opposition to the bill. He cited Speaker Rivlin’s arguments as reasons to oppose the bill. He noted the government does give money to single mothers who don’t meet the minimum tax bracket and the government is working on a bill that would include all working mothers.

The bill was defeated 9-42.

Compensation for Soldiers in Regular Service Bill

MK Peretz (Labor) presented his bill with the signatures of 54 MKs. He announced his bill would provide a monthly salary of NIS 2,500 to male soldiers in the Israel Defense Forces for their third year of service and to female soldiers for their second year of service. He called on the Arabs and ultra-orthodox MKs to vote for the bill to relieve their guilt for not serving in the army.

Homefront Defense Minister Vilnai (Independence) said it makes sense that 54 MKs signed on to the bill and agreed to the bill in principle. He expressed concern that due to the planned cuts to the Defense Ministry this bill doesn’t have the funding to be implemented. He revealed that Defense Minister Barak is working on a similar bill to this one and asked MK Peretz to delay the vote on his bill until the government brings Barak’s bill.

MK Ezra (Kadima) said there is no reason not to advance this bill now if the government agrees with it.

Homefront Defense Minister Vilnai asked MK Ezra and MK Peretz to trust him.

MK Peretz agreed to postpone the vote on the bill and to wait for the government bill.

Motion/Amendment to the Local Authorities Bill

MK Teviaev (Kadima) explained his amendment would provide a 5% municipal property tax reduction for parents of soldiers and policemen who reside with them.

Interior Minister Yishai (Shas) explained he has created a committee that is examining the current system of tax reductions and exemptions, as well as examining which new tax breaks should be implemented. He expressed support for this bill in principle and asked MK Teviaev to turn the bill into a motion in order to give time for the committee to announce its decisions.

MK Teviaev agreed to turn the bill into a motion.

The motion passed 50-0 and was sent to the Interior Committee.

Amendment to the Value Added Tax Bill

MK Tirosh (Kadima) explained her amendment would eliminate the value added tax on water and sewer services. She slammed the government for the VAT on water and said it must be repealed, stressing that the new tax is wrong.

Deputy Finance Minister Cohen was heckled by MK Gafni (U.T.J.), and Cohen called on him to act like a coalition member, to behave and to stop screaming at him. He revealed there was a VAT on water before this government was formed and the cost of repealing the VAT on water is over NIS 220 million annually. He called on Tirosh to turn the bill into a motion.

MK Tirosh asked Speaker Rivlin to school her on the consequences of turning the bill into a motion. After the explanation she decided to go ahead with the bill. She blasted the regressive tax and told Cohen that the ultra-orthodox have the largest families and use the most water.

The bill was defeated 27-39.

Daycare in the Workplace Bill

MK Molla (Kadima) explained his original bill would force all large businesses with over 100 employees to provide a daycare system at the workplace. He called on the government to provide mothers social justice. He stressed the cost of the daycare would be on the business and not the government.

Agriculture Minister Noked (Independence) confessed that she wrote this bill in the previous term and Molla stole it. She revealed that she was trying to convince the government to support the bill and they asked for a two month extension. She said it is hard for her to vote against a bill she agrees with but if Molla refuses to wait two months the government will have to oppose it.

MK Molla refused to postpone the vote and slammed the government for attempting to buy time by pushing off votes on important bills.

The bill was defeated 24-33.

Amendment to the Income Tax Ordinance Bill

MK Zuaretz (Kadima) explained her amendment would grant tax credits and deductions for child care expenses to women who work. She said this bill will create equality of the sexes in the work place and provide social justice. She asked why courses and furniture receive tax deductions and child care doesn’t.

Deputy Finance Minister Cohen explained tax credits are deductions for expenses that are directly involved with a business. He stressed child care is not a direct expense of a business and because of that the government is against the bill. He noted that the bill would reduce the overall tax credits and deductions of married women compared to non-married women. He concluded the bill would cost at least NIS 2 billion annually and the country can’t afford it.

The bill was defeated 23-30.

Establishing a Holding Center for Infiltrators Bill

MK Katzeleh (N.U.) recalled how his original bill for building a fence on the Egyptian border was defeated and then proposed by the government and passed almost a year later. He cited Interior Ministry statistics that illegal immigration stood at a total of 1,070 in 2006. He went on to note that 5,005 entered Israel in 2007; 8,698 in 2008; 14,735 in 2010; and 12,407 through October of 2011. He said according to the ministry statistics a total of 46,382 documented illegal immigrants live in Israel and that does not count those who are not documented. He explained this bill would create a holding center for the illegal immigrant infiltrators that would keep them out of Israeli cities. He noted that the government decided to create a holding center about a year ago and since then due to lack of funding the government has not broken ground. He stated that Tel Aviv is witnessing a slow hostile takeover of its neighborhoods and Eilat is not far behind. He revealed that the Arab MKs support his bill because they are furious that these illegal immigrants from Africa have taken the Israeli Arabs’ jobs in various sectors of Israel’s working class economy, especially in the hotel sector. He asked the government where the Jewish refugees of Tel Aviv will be absorbed. He answered that the Sudanese mafia is kicking Jews out of their homes and the Jews have nowhere to go. He warned that five neighborhoods have been conquered by the illegals and in a few years they will reach Ramat Aviv.

Minister Begin (Likud) noted that once again Katzeleh has brought an important bill up for a vote that the government agrees with but can’t support. He agreed with Katzeleh’s analysis and his assertion that the holding center must be built as soon as possible. He stressed that not only is Katzeleh right but he is the most knowledgeable MK on this subject. He concluded that the government will prioritize the holding center but can’t support this bill because they can’t fund it at the current time.

MK Katzeleh thanked Minster Begin for the kind words. He stressed that he can’t withdraw this bill because the government has their priorities messed up and this bill is important.

The bill was defeated 5-30.

Amendment to the Income Support Bill

MK Gilon (Meretz) stated that he is sickened to see so many great bills voted down by this terrible government. He called on the government to provide Israelis with their entitled social rights. He explained his amendment would extend the entitlement benefits to those who are eligible for income support. He stated this bill will encourage people to work and not live off of social security. He noted that under certain circumstances a worker who receives a raise of one shekel can lose his income support which results in him taking less money home overall. He agreed to pull the bill and vote on it at a later date at the request of the government.

Promote Affordable Housing Bill

MK Khenin (Hadash) explained his original bill would place limits and create a cap on the price for selling and renting small apartments. He said the housing crisis has hurt the poor more than anyone else and smaller apartments of fewer than 55 square meters should not be as expensive as they are. He warned that if the government doesn’t solve the crisis with massive solutions the country could fall. He said if the government refuses to build housing themselves then it must heavily regulate the private market. He agreed to postpone the vote to a later date at the request of the government.

I was on Israeli radio (Galei Yisrael) at 1:30 AM last night. Below is a link to my radio analysis interview on the Gruins and Bar Association Bills that will change the face of the Supreme Court. I go on at 14:33.

http://yishaifleisher.com/radio/israeli-high-court-intrigue-and-real-aliyah-inspiration/

Tuesday’s session lasted less than three and a half hours. No bills were discussed. Four motions were discussed, and three of them were sent for further discussion in committee. The Knesset marked ten years since the passing of the Israeli Film Law and also marked Conservation and Protection of the Dead Sea Day.

Non-Bills Summary

* 17 MKs spoke during the one minute speech segment. The main topic was the state of Israel’s economy. Others gave brief speeches on the Israeli Film Law or the Dead Sea because they had to leave early.

* A motion marking a decade since the passing of the Israeli Film Law was discussed by Speaker Rivlin, seven MKs and Education Minister Sa’ar (Likud). The motion was not voted on.

* A motion marking the Conservation and Protection of the Dead Sea Day was discussed by eight MKs and Tourism Minister Misezhnikov (Y.B.). The motion was sent for further discussion in the Interior Committee following a show of hands.

* A motion on the concern about the future of the humanities in higher education institutions was discussed by MK Orlev (J.H.) and Education Minister Sa’ar. The motion was sent for further discussion in the Education Committee following a show of hands.

* A motion on the junior faculty strike at universities was discussed by MK Khenin (Hadash) and Education Minister Sa’ar. The motion was sent to the Education Committee by a vote of 5-0.

* House Committee Chairman Levin (Likud) announced which disputed bills will be discussed in which committees.

* Education Minister Sa’ar answered a query at the end of the session.

Monday’s session lasted less than six hours. Four bills were discussed. Three bills were advanced, two after passing their preliminary readings and one after passing its first reading. One bill became law after passing its third reading. A majority of the session was spent discussing the controversial Grunis Bill, which paves the way for Justice Grunis to serve as the next Supreme Court President. A bill which changes the selection of the bar association’s two candidates to the judicial appointment committee was also advanced.

Non-Bills Summary

* Kadima’s no-confidence motion titled ‘Netanyahu’s attempt to make a political takeover of the judicial system and press in the State of Israel’ was defeated 38-51 with one MK abstaining and 30 MKs not present.

* Labor and Meretz’s joint no-confidence motion titled ‘Attacks on democracy and freedom of expression of journalists’ was defeated 38-55 with two MKs abstaining and 25 MKs not present.

* Hadash, Ra’am-Ta’al and Balad’s joint no-confidence motion titled ‘The Netanyahu government policy is dangerous towards its citizens and peoples of the region’ was defeated 32-59 with 29 MKs not present.

* Speaker Rivlin gave a warm speech welcoming the Kenyan Prime Minister to the Knesset.

* Speaker Rivlin eulogized former MKs Yerachmiel Assa, who served in the third Knesset, and Moshe Wertman, who served in the sixth through the eighth Knessets, both of whom passed away during the summer recess.

Bills Summary

Amendment to the Broadcasting Authority Bill

Finance Committee Chairman Shama (Likud) explained the bill will exempt the 2,400 lone soldiers, as well as all senior citizens, from paying the television tax from 2012 until 2016.

The bill passed its second reading 45-0.

The bill passed its third reading 44-0.

MK Miller (Y.B.) thanked the Knesset for approving his bill and Chairman Shama for his work in the committee.

Amendment to the Courts Bill

MK Katzeleh (N.U.) explained his amendment would remove the minimum three year term as a condition of being selected as the Supreme Court President. He noted that all of the Supreme Court Justices are secular Ashkenazi Jews who live in Tel Aviv. MK Shai and MK Molla heckled the speech, and Deputy Speaker Vaknin restored order. Katzeleh stressed that Israelis are upset that the Supreme Court doesn’t reflect Israeli society but rather just a small minority. He asked why in other western countries like the United States the judges are elected or appointed by a President but in Israel it is in a cigar filled room that our judges are appointed without any vetting process or hearings. He noted that Labor Court President Adler retired early in order to allow Justice Arad to automatically replace him. He said this bill will put an end to the seniority clause which has corrupted the judges.

MK Horowitz (Meretz) slammed the bill and called it a personal bill tailor fitted to pave the way for Justice Grunis to become Supreme Court President. He blasted the bill as a politically motivated bill that shows the government is against the courts, the media, academia and culture. He slammed the government for trying to pave the way for other conservative judges to reach the bench by changing the makeup of the judicial selection committee.

MK Gal-On (Meretz) labeled the bill as a “price tag” Jewish terrorist act against the Supreme Court and democracy. She slammed the latest wave of legislation as anti-democratic and slammed the government for using their majority against the minority. She questioned if this is hunting season and if the next judge appointed will be a settler.

MK Swaid (Hadash) slammed the bill as anti-democratic and an attempt at a hostile take over of the Supreme Court. He said he rejects this attempt to politicize the Supreme Court and the attempt to make the Supreme Court more conservative. He said without a moderate Supreme Court Israel will become a fascist state.

MK Barakeh (Hadash) criticized other bills that he labeled as anti-democratic and racist instead of attacking this particular bill. He warned that Israel is heading towards a fascist dictatorship.

MK Khenin (Hadash) said that all personal bills should be rejected. He warned that many other bills are worse than this bill and Israel is losing its democracy and embracing racism. He warned that the government has declared war on democracy and the problem is not the right-wing back benchers but rather the Prime Minister. He admitted the best defense is a good offense and that is what Netanyahu is doing in order to save his seat. He warned the drizzling is over and the rain clouds are above us. He warned the government that Israel wants social justice. He said that democracy has made it a dangerous time for the government and now the government is making it a dangerous time for democracy.

MK Yoel Hasson (Kadima) said he doesn’t understand why Likud, which claims they are going to be in power for years, are in such a rush to pass all of these crazy bills. He said it would seem the way Likud is acting that they are about to call new elections since they are in such a hurry. He called on Israelis to band together and fight the most extreme government Israel has ever seen.

MK El-Sana (R.T.) stated that many were silent when the government went out against the Arabs since they never thought the government would go against them. He said since then the government has gone against the left and now against the Supreme Court and the press. He slammed MK Rotem and MK Ariel as extremists who are trying to push through conservative judges. He asked who will protect Israeli Arabs when the Supreme Court is taken over by the right.

MK Tibi (R.T.) mocked the achievement Foreign Minister Liberman boasted about when Liberman praising the 14 countries that supported Israel in the U.N. Tibi stressed that the world is still against Israel and noted that even Micronesia didn’t vote with Israel and instead chose to leave the room. He asked if the next candidate for the Supreme Court will be settler Itamar Ben-Gvir.

MK Agbaria (Hadash) cited a study that 48.3% of Arabs are found guilty compared to 33.6% of Jews and that Arabs receive longer sentences for the same crimes compared to Jews. He concluded that the court is already on life support and this bill will take the court off of life support and towards apartheid.

MK Ben Ari (N.U.) recalled that 21 years ago today he heard that an Al-Qaeda terrorist assassinated Rabbi Kahane. He recalled several cases where the Supreme Court ruled against Rabbi Kahane and ruled for terrorists such as Balad. Deputy Speaker Barakeh (Hadash) threw Ben Ari off the podium for what he called spreading lies. MK Ben Ari claimed freedom of expression and Barakeh told him to go sit down.

MK Shai (Kadima) slammed Katzeleh for calling all of the Supreme Court Justices secular leftist Tel Aviv Ashkenazim. He said that Israelis live together and Israelis support the Supreme Court. He called the National Union racists who are trying to divide the nation not unite it. He expressed his opposition to the bill.

MK Herzog (Labor) asked the public to wake up and oppose this government. He said he is proud of the Supreme Court and they should remain the strongest branch of government. He warned Katzeleh that circles are round and this bill will one day hurt the settlers.

MK Bar-On (Kadima) said that this bill isn’t such a big deal and that removing the seniority isn’t such a bad thing. He added that Justice Grunis is a great judge and he doesn’t see such a big difference between him and other justices. He said the problem is the atmosphere surrounding the bill and that is why he will vote against it. He slammed the government for choosing the small sectors of the coalition instead of looking out for the mainstream.

MK Molla (Kadima) slammed the government for supporting MK Ariel over MK Bar-On in the judicial selection committee and for appointing Justice Minister Neeman, who wasn’t democratically elected. He said the government is against the Supreme Court, the press and human rights groups. He called on Israelis to call for social justice and call for the resignation of Justice Minister Neeman.

MK Adatto (Kadima) said that the coalition is extending their boundaries since Netanyahu is allowing them to propose more extremist bills. She slammed the long list of bills she disagrees with because she sees them as anti-democratic.

MK Eichler (U.T.J.) said he doesn’t understand why a democracy would allow its courts to interfere with running the country and that the courts should focus on judging laws. He said that the Supreme Court has no place ruling on large issues like the Shalit deal or small issues like drivers licenses. He expressed his support for the bill.

MK Ariel (N.U.) said that there are 130 candidates for the current openings in the Supreme Court and he said that we should wait before we judge if certain justices are good or bad. He stressed that time tells all.

MK Absesadze (Kadima) called this another black week for Israeli democracy, which started in the Knesset, which is supposed to be the backbone of Israeli democracy. She said Katzeleh is acting like whoever isn’t with him is against him and that is wrong. She slammed the government for killing democracy, lynching democracy and practicing McCarthyism. She stated the first step is delegitimazing the left and the next step is making the left illegal.

MK Braverman (Labor) said that many around the world are asking if democracy will survive the latest economic struggles. He recalled how former Senator McCarthy almost killed America’s democracy and how Putin is killing Russia’s democracy. He said the government is outlawing certain leftist groups and leftist media in order to save themselves. He said that giving up on Israel’s democracy for the sake of the Likud primaries is a dangerous move and Netanyahu should stand up against it.

MK Itzik (Kadima) slammed the government for not having one achievement. She blasted Deputy Prime Minister Ya’alon for not acting like a true Kibbutznik and standing up against these anti-democratic bills. She warned that these are bills that can’t be repealed and something needs to be done before the damage is real.

MK Orbach (J.H.) told the opposition to stop overreacting. He said these are two bills that are not so important and that Israel’s democracy will not fall because of these bills. He said that he hasn’t found a difference between Likud and Kadima. He expressed support for the bill and said Justice Grunis is more qualified than Justice Naor.

MK Cabel (Labor) charged that Katzeleh was sent by the government to propose this bill. He recalled trying to fix it so that Barak would win the Labor leadership race and now Barak is hanging out with the Likud. He warned Katzeleh that he might regret this bill and that Grunis might turn out to be more left than Naor.

MK Ben Simon (Labor) said this bill isn’t dangerous or important but, together with other bills that have been passed over the last term, makes everything smell bad. He warned that the government is trying to change the face of Israeli society and is trying to move Israel further away from peace.

MK Teviaev (Kadima) said he recalls growing up in a dictatorship where when someone goes into a court it doesn’t matter if they are guilty, what matters is what the system thinks of you. He said he respects Katzeleh and doesn’t understand the motivation behind the bill. He asked if Likud is Danny Danon or Michael Eitan.

MK Danon (Likud) said the opposition wants the coalition to take sleeping pills and to ignore the agenda that the government was elected on. He recalled when the opposition kicked Jews out of their homes in the disengagement. He asked why that wasn’t anti-democratic. He said that if the opposition doesn’t like the bills they are welcome to repeal them when they are the majority.

MK Whbee (Kadima) recalled Katzeleh regretting supporting Netanyahu for Prime Minister. He said now Katzeleh is being duped by Netanyahu and has no clue what is going on.

MK Zeev (Shas) said that the opposition has forgotten what Zionism is. He stressed the amendment changes the situation back to how it was before 2007. He said this seniority experiment of the last four years has been a failure. He asked if a conservative justice will really bring an end to democracy. He answered that conservatives are not anti-democratic. He stated that no country has a “friend brings a friend” policy for the Supreme Court except Israel; rather, the other democracies either elect justices or have public hearings. He asked why Justice Grunis has been allowed to be a judge but isn’t allowed to be president. He answered it is probably because Grunis doesn’t follow the leftist elitist agenda and not because he isn’t qualified.

MK Elkin (Likud) said this amendment will repeal the 2007 amendment that was passed through by then Kadima Justice Minister Friedmann. He asked how this is an anti-democratic bill if it will return the Supreme Court to how it was for decades. He asked why the same MKs who voted against the 2007 amendment are now voting against repealing it. He answered the opposition cares more about the sponsor and less about what the bill actually says. He called on the opposition to stop acting like a yoyo and to take principled positions.

National Infrastructure Minister Landau (Y.B.) expressed government support for the bill and stressed the Supreme Court needs a root canal. He asked why it was okay for 1950 or 2006 but it isn’t okay for 2011. He went on to criticize the Supreme Court for about twenty minutes and pointed out certain cases of hypocrisies, particularly surrounding the disengagement. He concluded that the tycoons are the leftists in the media.

MK Katzeleh said he is hurt that they are calling the bill the Grunis Bill because it is called the Katzeleh Bill. He said that he thought of it himself and should get credit for it. He noted that there are 700,000 settlers and 400,000 Tel Avivans, yet there are no Supreme Court Justices from Judea and Samaria and all of the justices are from Tel Aviv. He concluded that in Judea and Samaria there is a 6% growth in Jewish population while in Tel Aviv there is a 5% growth of illegal gentile immigrants.

The bill passed its first reading 52-35 and was sent to the Justice Committee.

Amendment to the Selection of Bar Association Representatives to Judicial Appointment Committees Bill

MK Ilatov (Y.B.) explained his amendment would have the democratically elected Bar Association Chairman and the leader of the opposition of the Bar Association be selected as the two lawyer representatives to the judicial appointment committee. He rejected claims the bill is anti-democratic since the bill allows the democratically elected chairman and the opposition leader to both be represented.

Environment Minister Erdan (Likud) expressed government support for the bill. He defended the bill as super democratic and not personal.

MK Bar-On stressed that Justice Grunis is as qualified as Justice Naor but this bill is the problematic one. He warned the government is picking winners and losers in the bar association and is interfering in internal bar association matters which threatens the separation of the branches of government. He said that the six or seven largest law firms have between 170 and 200 lawyers and they have started a hostile takeover of the bar association thanks to the government redrawing the districts. He concluded by blaming Justice Minister Neeman as the mastermind behind the whole mess.

Speaker Rivlin announced he won’t vote on this bill.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 50-35 with two MKs abstaining and Speaker Rivlin not voting. It was sent to the House Committee to determine which committee will discuss the bill further.

Following the vote Speaker Rivlin threw out several MKs who chose to wave black flags to protest the result of the vote.

Amendment to the Banking Bill

MK Maklev (U.T.J.) explained his amendment is a customer service upgrade. He said it would oblige the bank to give notice to the customer before executing transactions or changing the terms of his bank account.

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

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

The Wednesday session was split into two. The morning session lasted less than three hours. The afternoon special session in memory of former Prime Minister Rabin was less than an hour. Five bills were discussed and advanced after passing their preliminary readings. The bills advanced force the Finance Minister to report to the Knesset every six months on the implementation of the budget; allow workers to come to terms with their employers on working odd hours or from home; provide security guards protection from both heat and cold; expand the definition of protecting against discrimination in the work place; and grant fathers the right to take time off to spend with their wife and child for at least a week following the birth.

Non-Bills Summary

* Housing Minister Atias (Shas), Social Welfare Minister Kahlon (Likud) and Homefront Defense Minister Vilnai (Independence) answered urgent queries at the beginning of the session.

* A motion on the ‘Strike that is disabling the economy and demands for direct employment of contract workers’ was discussed by nine MKs and Deputy Finance Minister Cohen (Shas).

* House Committee Chairman Levin (Likud) announced that MK Shamalov Berkovich (Kadima) will replace MK Abesadze (Kadima) in the Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs Committee. He added that MK Aflalo (Kadima) will replace MK Tirosh (Kadima) and MK Gal-On (Meretz) will replace MK Hermesh (Kadima) in the Funds Committee. He noted that MK Hermesh will replace Gal-On and MK Levin (Likud) will replace MK Danon (Likud) in the Law, Justice and Constitution Committee.

* A Special session was held in memory of former Prime Minister and Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin, marking sixteen years since his assassination. Speaker Rivlin, Deputy Prime Minister Ya’alon (Likud), Opposition Leader Livni, Defense Minister Barak (Independence) and Labor Chairwoman Yachimovich all gave warm speeches about the fallen leader.

Bills Summary

Amendment to the Foundations of the Budget Bill

MK Levin (Likud) explained his amendment would force the Finance Minister to report to the Knesset every six months on the execution and implementation of the Knesset budget.

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

Amendment to the Work and Rest Hours Bill

MK Ilatov (Y.B.) explained his amendment would allow certain workers flexibility in which hours they work and allow certain workers to work from home. He promised to advance the bill in line with the government’s wishes.

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

Posts for Security Guard Workers Bill

MK Ben Simon (Labor) explained his amendment would require employers to provide their security guards shade from the sun and the heat. He added that the employer will have to offer a heated post during the cold winter months.

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

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

Amendment to the Employment Services Bill

MK Shai (Kadima) explained his amendment would expand the prohibition of discrimination in the work place to include both the 1959 version of the bill and the 1988 version. He explained that both versions have their own merits and merging the two will protect most Israeli populations from discrimination in the work place.

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

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

Amendment to the Sick Pay Bill

MK Ariel (N.U.) explained his amendment would present equal rights to fathers. He said that fathers are discriminated against and don’t receive paternity leave. He added that the amendment would allow a father to take seven days of absence for girls and eights days for boys.

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

The bill passed its preliminary reading 29-0 and was sent to the Labor Committee.

The second Tuesday session of the winter season lasted about three and a half hours. Three bills were discussed and advanced after passing their first readings. They were pro-women bills, advanced on International Premature Birth Awareness Day. Like the previous Tuesday’s session, and most Tuesdays, the agenda was short and attendance was light.

Non-Bills Summary

* 18 MKs and Minister Livnat (Likud) participated in the one minute speech segment of the day. Most MKs used the speech to give their opinions on new legislation regarding the courts.

* Speaker Rivlin gave a speech on International Premature Birth Awareness Day. Seven MKs and Deputy Health Minister Litzman (U.T.J.) gave speeches on a motion honoring the day. It was approved for further discussion with a 12-0 vote.

* The Knesset fixed a technical error in the budget with a 10-0 vote.

* A motion on the Former Mossad chief’s words against the ultra-Orthodox was discussed by four MKs and Deputy Health Minister Litzman. It was approved for further discussion with a 6-0 vote.

* Deputy Health Minister Litzman answered three queries at the end of the session.

Bills Summary

Amendment to the Employment of Women Bill

MK Levi-Abekasis (Y.B.) explained that her amendment would extend maternity leave for an additional month in cases where the newborn requires hospitalization for over a month after birth. She concluded that this bill was in the spirit of Premature Birth Awareness Day.

Deputy Health Minister Litzman asked for a delay in the vote in order to come to certain compromises with Levi-Abekasis. After delaying the vote for over an hour Litzman gave support for the bill later in the session.

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

Amendments to the Guarantee of Payment Bill

MK Khenin (Hadash) explained that his amendment would repeal the bill that exempts men from paying child support or alimony for time the spouse or children spend abroad. He stressed it is unacceptable for a man to get out of paying his court ordered payments because his ex-wife and children no longer live in the country. He called the bill a social justice bill.

MK Eichler (U.T.J.) expressed his support for the bill and stressed this bill is in line with Torah values.

MK Eldad (N.U.) expressed support for the bill. He stated the government is trying to break up homes in the physical sense in Judea and Samaria. He called on the government not to break up families or homes.

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

MK Kirshenbaum (Y.B.) said her bill is identical to Khenin’s bill and she calls on the Knesset to approve it. She said the addition in her bill is that women who receive social security and other government benefits will now be eligible to receive those benefits abroad. She said that over 20,000 women in Israel do not receive child support and some need to seek employment elsewhere to feed their children. She noted the bill only covers those receiving less than NIS 5,013 monthly from the government.

MK Eichler used his time to eulogize a rabbi who passed away earlier that day.

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

The second Monday session of the winter season lasted less than five hours. 17 bills were discussed. Eight bills became law after passing their third readings, and nine bills were advanced after passing their first readings. The government defeated two no-confidence motions.

The headlines of the day were a new law that will enable soldiers to receive their first year of college free in Jerusalem and a bill that will prevent the scheduled increase of the women’s retirement age to 67.

Non-Bills Summary:

* Speaker Rivlin gave a speech marking 67 years since the execution of Hannah Senesh and her friends.

* Kadima’s no-confidence motion titled ‘Netanyahu’s refusal to respond to demand of a new social budget submission for 2012′ was defeated 37-54 with 29 MKs not present.

* Labor and Meretz’s joint no-confidence motion titled ‘The government is punishing Israeli society through expansion of settlements, trampling of the social protests and wanton policy management’ was defeated 33-57 with 30 MKs not present.

* Constitution, Law and Justice Committee Chairman Rotem explained his committee found a technical error in a bill and asked the Knesset to fix it. It was approved 14-0.

* House Committee Chairman Levin announced that MK Braverman (Labor) will replace MK Yacimovich (Labor) in the Funds Committee.

* The Knesset applied a continuity clause to bring back a bill that was not finished from the previous term by a 7-0 vote.

Bills Summary

Temporary Amendment to the Income Tax Ordinance Bill

Funds Committee Chairman Gafni (U.T.J.) explained the amendment would remove certain tax breaks for short term foreign investors, especially in bond trading and certain fund markets. Gafni added Israel is looking for long term investors and will not allow short term investors to make a quick buck in Israel thanks to a few legal loopholes. Gafni concluded that the situation will be reexamined after two years and if this amendment is not extended after two years the tax breaks will go back into effect.

The bill passed its second reading 49-0.

The bill passed its third reading 34-0.

Amendment to the Execution Bill

Constitution, Law and Justice Committee Chairman Rotem (Y.B.) explained that the amendment would increase the authority of government repossession registrars and allow them to access other government databases in order to learn more about the citizen from whom they are authorized to collect.

The bill passed its second reading 29-1 with MK Ilatov (Y.B.) announcing he opposed the bill by mistake.

The bill passed its third reading 30-0.

Amendment to the Collection Center Fines, Fees and Expenses Bill

Constitution, Law and Justice Committee Chairman Rotem explained the amendment would increase sanctions on citizens who haven’t paid court ordered fines of over NIS 5,000 for over a year. He said among the new sanctions would be revoking their passport, prohibiting them from leaving the country, revoking their drivers license and more.

The bill passed its second reading 26-1.

The bill passed its third reading 23-0.

Amendment to the Israel Antiquities Authority Bill

Culture and Sport Minister Livnat (Likud) announced the amendment would allow more people to qualify for serving on the 16-member Israel Antiquities Committee Board and as chairman of the committee. She said that the current law qualifies only three of the Israel Antiquities Society members to serve as chairman and this mafia style law must be amended to allow other candidates to qualify.

MK Schneller (Kadima) called the Israel Antiquities Authority one of the most important authorities in Israel and expressed his support for the bill.

MK Ben Ari (N.U.) quoted a study that only ten of the 220 professors in Israel’s universities are Sephardic Jews. He said that all elitist entities should show some diversity and expressed his support for the bill.
MK Khenin (Hadash) expressed his support for Speaker Rivlin’s position of delaying the vote on controversial bills for a week to allow the Arab MKs to celebrate their holiday and not require them to come into work to vote. He slammed Kadima, Labor and Meretz for inciting against the Speaker and for ignoring the importance of Arab holidays. He went on to charge that this bill is politically motivated. He slammed the bill for including historians in the qualifications for serving in the committee and said the committee is a place for archeologists only.

The bill passed its first reading 30-1 and was sent to the Culture Committee.

Amendment to the Consumer Protection Bill

Industry and Trade Minister Simhon (Independence) explained the amendment would raise first time fines on businesses for violations of the Consumer Protection Bill to between NIS 25,000-50,000 as well as additional sanctions.

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

Amendment to the Employment Services Bill

Industry and Trade Minister Simhon explained his amendment would merge the authority of the defunct position of Labor Minister into the authority of the Industry and Trade Minister. He added the amendment would update the regulations on the Employment Service Council that advises the minister on certain issues.

The bill passed its first reading 18-0 and was sent to the Labor Committee.

Temporary Order Amendment to the Social Security Bill

Social Welfare Minister Kahlon (Likud) explained that this amendment is a pilot program in two locations that would have a nurse assigned to elderly people over 80 years old for doctor checkups. He expressed hope that the nurses would fight for the elderly people’s rights.

MK Khenin praised Kahlon and said that the Social Welfare Minister is working hard for the elderly and for holocaust survivors.

MK Zeev (Shas) praised Kahlon and said this bill reflects Torah values.
The bill passed its first reading 17-0 and was sent to the Welfare Committee.

Amendment to the Prison Ordinance Bill

Homeland Security Minister Aharonovitch explained the employment of prisoners is an important part of keeping prisoners focused on their rehabilitation. He said this amendment will regulate the employment of prisoners and hopefully will lead to an increase of prisoners who work during their imprisonment.

MK Khenin praised Aharonovitch and the bill. He called on the minister to examine implementing certain private bills that he has proposed in the past into this bill.

MK Ben Ari praised the bill but criticized that the prisoners make somewhere between NIS 7 to 9 a day. He noted certain prisoners are not eligible for employment and that should be changed. He added that even in Sudan child laborers earn at least two dollars a day.

MK Bielski (Kadima) expressed support for the bill. He slammed Bet Shemesh for passing a city ordinance that prohibits hiring former convicts to work within Bet Shemesh city limits and called on Aharonovitch to overturn it.

The bill passed its first reading 18-0 and was sent to the Interior Committee.

Amendment to the Security Service Bill

Transportation Minister Katz explained the amendment would enable the army to draft someone for a month before allowing him to see a doctor that can release him from service. He added the amendment will prohibit counting time a soldier spends in jail or AWOL as part of his mandatory service.

The bill passed its first reading 16-0 and was sent to the House Committee to determine which committee should discuss the bill further.

Amendment to the Local Authorities Elections Bill

MK Ezra (Kadima) explained the amendment would require the ballot officer to approve a voter being accompanied by another person as a result of an illness or disability. He stated the current situation of allowing anybody to bring another person with them into the ballot box results in voter intimidation.

The bill passed its first reading 15-0 and was sent to the Interior Committee.

Amendment to the Traffic Ordinance Bill

Constitution, Law and Justice Committee Chairman Rotem explained the amendment would increase the punishment of a hit and run to 14 years in jail.

MK Bielski asked the Knesset to support his bill and said it is time to send a message to those who hit and run that it is unacceptable.

MK Matalon (Y.B.) asked the Knesset to support his bill, which was merged with Bielski’s bill, and hoped this would put an end to hit and runs.

The bill passed its second reading 19-0.

The bill passed its third reading 20-0.

Amendment to the Knesset Bill

House Committee Chairman Levin (Likud) explained the amendment would allow the House Committee to determine if a suspended MK should be receiving his MK salary or not.

The bill passed its second reading 12-0.

The bill passed its third reading 12-0.

Amendment to the Ports Ordinance Bill

Funds Committee Chairman Gafni explained the amendment would limit the personal liability of custom agents in seaports and increase their authority.

The bill passed its second reading 15-0.

The bill passed its third reading 15-0.

MK Levin thanked the Knesset for approving his bill into law.

Amendment to the Corporate Fund Managers and Portfolio Managers Bill

Funds Committee Chairman Gafni explained the amendment will increase the supervision over corporate fund managers and portfolio managers who have over 50 clients or a combined investment of over NIS 5 billion.

The bill passed its second reading 13-0.

The bill passed its third reading 13-0.

Amendment to the Retirement Age Bill

Labor, Welfare and Health Committee Chairman Katz (Likud) explained his amendment would cancel the gradual increase of the female retirement age to 67. He stressed that the female retirement age should stay at 62 and that there is no reason to increase it to match the male retirement age.

MK Gilon (Meretz) expressed support for Katz and the bill. His phone started ringing while he was on the podium and he needed a Knesset guard’s assistance to shut it off.

MK Elkin (Likud) praised the bill. He noted that he tried to pass this bill last term when he was a Kadima MK but former Finance Minister Hirchson (Kadima) refused to support it.

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

Temporary Provision Amendment to the Telecommunications Bill

Finance Committee Chairman Shama (Likud) stated that Israel has four regular news broadcasts on Channels 1, 2, 10 and 99. He explained that there have been local news broadcasts on cable and satellite as part of a temporary program and this amendment will extend that program’s funding for another year.

The bill passed its first reading 12-0 and was sent to the Finance Committee.

Amendment to the Jerusalem Development Authority Bill

Labor, Welfare and Health Committee Chairman Katz explained the amendment would present veterans who study in Jerusalem with a NIS 9,500 grant that should cover their first year of college tuition. He added that Hebrew University will not be included under the bill. He noted that the bill covers any soldier who finished his service from 2010 and later.

The bill passed its second reading 13-0.

The bill passed its third reading 15-0.

Deputy Minister Gamliel thanked the Knesset for approving her bill. She recalled her previous bill that extended the same benefits to students in the Galil, Negev, Ashkelon, Judea and Samaria. She expressed hope that eventually all veterans will be eligible to receive their first year of college free.

MK Orlev (J.H.) thanked the Knesset for approving his bill, which was merged with Gamliel’s bill. He wished Gamliel, who is nine months pregnant, an easy birth.

The first Wednesday of the winter session lasted about nine hours. 23 bills were discussed. Eight bills were advanced after passing their preliminary readings, nine bills were defeated and six votes were postponed in order to avoid defeat.

The jam-packed day had a little bit of everything: a special session for a fallen minister; a heated exchange between the opposition and coalition; a series of socialist bills; and Y.B. MKs Miller and Rotem violating coalition discipline.

Non-Bills Summary

* Deputy Health Minister Litzman (U.T.J.) answered an urgent query to start the session.

* A special session in memory of former Tourism Minister Rechavam Ze’evi, of blessed memory, was held on the tenth anniversary of his assasination. Speaker Rivlin, Prime Minister Netanyahu, Opposition Leader Livni and MK Eldad, a former Moledet MK, all gave very warm speeches marking the occasion.

* Three of the four motions of the day were passed and sent for further discussion in various committees. ‘The rising cost of living and rising electricity prices’ passed 19-0; ‘20% of Israeli households are under the care of social services’ passed 7-0; and ‘Women in the public sphere’ passed 4-0. A motion on the Foreign Minister’s remarks against the Chairman of the PA was defeated 3-6.

* Deputy Foreign Minister Ayalon (Y.B.) answered three queries later in the session.

Bills Summary

Authorized Engineers and Technicians Bill

MK Haim Katz (Likud) explained his original bill would regulate the occupations of engineers and technicians under Israeli law.
Education Minister Sa’ar (Likud) expressed government support for the bill.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 19-0 and was sent to the Labor Committee.

Academic Training Council for Industry Education Bill

MK Miller (Y.B.) explained his original bill would promote the education of industry-related occupations through an academic training council to which the government would give certain powers.

Education Minister Sa’ar explained the government is not taking an official position on the bill and that coalition MKs may vote as they see fit. He stated that Miller’s bill, should it pass, should be discussed with MK Katz’s bill and merged into one. He warned MK Miller not to try to keep the bills separate.

MK Miller stressed the government has no place in determining which committee will discuss the bill and therefore he will be able to avoid merging the bill.

Coalition Chairman Elkin (Likud) warned Miller that he doesn’t have the votes in the House Committee to pull off his plan.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 24-5 and was sent to the House Committee to determine which committee will discuss the bill further, following MK Miller’s decision to ignore Sa’ar and Elkin’s warnings.

Amendment to the Consumer Protection Bill

MK Maklev (U.T.J.) explained the amendment would grant the consumer reimbursement of bank fees for excess debit transactions on ongoing payments at the date of the return. He added that he withdrew the second part of the bill at the government’s request.

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

The amendment passed its preliminary reading 17-0 and was sent to the Finance Committee.

Amendment to the Liability of State Bill

MK Orlev (J.H.) explained his amendment would prohibit a person from an enemy country from suing the State of Israel.

Justice Minister Neeman expressed government support for the bill.

MK Khenin (Hadash) opposed the bill on the grounds that the State is liable for crimes committed against its enemies and removing that liability will harm Israel’s democracy. He added this will push Israel’s enemies to sue Israel in international court because the Israeli courts will be closed to them. He said it is hypocritical for Israel to refuse the legitimacy of international courts and to close the door of Israeli courts.

MK Orlev said this bill is a western democratic bill that was passed in England, Canada and the United States. He said Israel should stop acting like a sucker and stressed terrorists have no place suing Israel.

The amendment passed its preliminary reading 36-15 and was sent to the Justice Committee.

Amendment to the Telecommunications and Broadcasting Bill

MK Shama (Likud) explained his amendment would prohibit the cell phone companies from charging a cancellation fee when a costumer switches providers. Shama said that the new zero rate would match that of television and satellite providers and that all telecommunication companies are created equal. He stressed that a costumer should not be penalized for upgrading to a better provider.

Justice Minister Neeman expressed government support for the bill.

The amendment passed its preliminary reading 33-0 and was sent to the Finance Committee.

Two Amendments to the Parties Bill

MK Hotovely (Likud) explained that her amendment would prohibit Israeli citizens from belonging to more than one political party. She expressed hope that this will help clean up Israeli politics and stop people from trying to hijack rival parties.

MK Orlev explained his amendment would place sanctions on people who belong to more than one party. He said it is impossible for a democracy to allow its citizens to belong to more than one party and impact the primaries of multiple parties.

Justice Minister Neeman expressed government support for the bills and stressed it is in Israel’s interest that these bills pass.

The first bill passed 48-0 and the second bill passed 50-0.

The bills were merged and sent to the Justice Committee.

Three Basic Laws: Social Rights Bill

MK Gal-On (Meretz) said that the Israeli public sobered up this summer and rejected capitalism. She stated Israelis want social justice and socialism. She slammed the rich and privileged. She blasted the Trachtenberg Commission. She attacked the private market, calling them the source of the problem and not the solution. She stressed the solution is a new Basic Law that will protect Israelis’ social rights. She charged the government isn’t spending Israeli taxes on Israelis; rather, they are spending it on settlers and settlements. She told the government that she expects Israel to provide the kind of social rights South Africa gives their citizens.

MK Horowitz (Meretz) explained his Basic Law is basically the same as Gal-On’s Basic Law. He said this bill is the first of a series of socialist bills that are being brought up for a vote today in the spirit of the tent protests. He slammed the Knesset for not passing a Basic Law since 1992. He said the tent protesters are demanding social justice and this Basic Law will provide social justice.

MK Peretz (Labor) said the problem is Israel doesn’t have a constitution. He said that the decision was made to write the constitution chapter by chapter as Basic Laws. He expressed hope that this Basic Law, which he first proposed in 1997, will be approved today. He slammed former Ministers Lapid (Shinui) and Deri (Shas) for torpedoing his past attempts at passing this bill.

Environment Minister Erdan (Likud) slammed the Basic Laws that were just presented. He said the government is listening to the cries of the people and does not want to limit its power to combat Israel’s financial problems. He suggested postponing the vote on the Basic Laws in order for the government to convince the religious parties to support its own version of a Basic Law. The MKs rejected Erdan’s offer and Erdan instructed the coalition to defeat the bill.

MK Molla (Kadima) said he is sick of the government postponing votes on important bills. He slammed the government for trying to buy time. Speaker Rivlin blasted the MKs for making the bill political instead of accepting Erdan’s offer.

MK Gilon (Meretz) said Israel should be a socialist state. He said capitalism is against both the bible and the declaration of independence. He said what is great about this generation is that it is asking what is the country doing for me, instead of asking what they are supposed to do for their country.

MK Peretz said this is one of the most important bills he has ever signed. He praised Netanyahu for releasing Shalit and asked him to vote with him today.

The first bill was defeated 45-58.

The second bill was defeated 41-53.

The third bill was defeated 44-54.

Basic Law: The Right to Housing Bill

MK Khenin said the housing crisis caused the tent revolution from Kiryat Shmona to Eilat. He slammed the government for privatizing Israel’s land and for limiting public housing. He said that a house is not a privilege and his Basic Law would grant every Israeli citizen the right to a house. He said the government is responsible for housing all of its citizens. He slammed the government for prioritizing settlement roads over public housing. He called for social justice.

Justice Minister Neeman slammed Khenin for not submitting the Basic Law for the government’s approval and instead submitting it to the Knesset for his own political motivations. Neeman hinted he might have supported it and found the budget for it. He opposed the bill on the grounds that speeches don’t solve problems and that this was the first time this term an MK decided to bypass the government on a bill.

MK Khenin rejected Neeman’s argument and said it would have been a waste of time to wait for the government’s position on a bill they would oppose no matter what.

The bill was defeated 40-54.

Amendment to the Value Added Tax Bill

MK Sheetrit (Kadima) explained his amendment would allow young couples to buy their first apartment VAT-free if it is a new apartment that costs less than a million and a half shekels. He slammed the government for not doing more for young couples and rejected hecklers who asked why he didn’t propose this bill last term when he was the Finance Minister.

Deputy Finance Minister Cohen (Shas) slammed Sheetrit for submitting bills when he is in the opposition that he defeated when he was in the coalition. MK Yoel Hasson heckled Cohen and was called to order by Deputy Speaker Akunis. Cohen added that there is no VAT on second-hand apartments and this bill could raise the demand for new apartments which would raise the housing prices even higher. He noted that the cost of the bill is NIS 1.4 billion per year. He suggested postponing the bill for two months or changing it to a motion. Sheetrit declined.

The bill was defeated 32-44.

Property Tax Reductions for Students Bill

MK Yoel Hasson (Kadima) accused Deputy Speaker Akunis (Likud) of prolonging the vote on the previous bill in order to allow more coalition MKs to enter the room and defeat the bill. Kadima’s MKs heckled Akunis. Akunis denied the charges and demanded Hasson apologize. Pandemonium broke out and MKs from the opposition and coalition stood up and started screaming for seven straight minutes. Speaker Rivlin came in and from the side microphone demanded that the opposition regain order. Hasson slammed the coalition for playing dirty tricks.

Interior Minister Yishai (Shas) noted that MK Hasson didn’t present a bill and instead spent ten minutes screaming at Deputy Speaker Akunis. Yishai confessed he agreed to the bill in principle but budget restraints force him to oppose the bill. He revealed that he put together a committee to examine phasing in this bill slowly. He asked Hasson to postpone the vote on the bill for two months and give his committee time to find solutions. MK Hasson accepted postponing the bill for two months.

Amendment to the Planning and Building Bill

MK Edery (Kadima) explained his amendment would require the government to set aside a percentage of all residential projects for small apartments (70-80 square meters). He called on the government to bring their own version if they don’t like his.

Interior Minister Yishai said that Edery’s speech touched him and he agrees with him in principle. He explained the problem is that mayors don’t agree to small apartments and would reject any new residential project that came with small apartments attached. He said that he is working on new protocols that are very similar to Edery’s bill and asked him to postpone the vote on the bill in order to see if the new protocols are implemented. MK Edery agreed to wait two months to see if the minister’s protocols are implemented.

Amendment to the Housing Loan for Eligible Veterans Bill

MK Plesner (Kadima) said his amendment would allow veterans to be eligible for government housing loans and mortgages for building their first home.

Environment Minister Erdan said the government can’t meet the budget restraint of this bill and therefore is against it. He noted Israelis are in good shape compared to Europe and mentioned in Spain fifty percent of young people are unemployed.

MK Plesner responded to Erdan that if the government opposes this bill they are voting against one of the Trachtenberg Commission’s findings. He slammed the current situation in which religious Israelis receive more benefits than secular Israelis.

The bill was defeated 23-46.

Amendment to the Rent and Lending Bill

MK Molla presented, as he typically does every six months, his amendment that would limit raising rent. He said the capitalistic market has brought upon Israelis crazy prices and said government regulation on rent is the solution.

Justice Minister Neeman expressed government opposition to the bill on the grounds that this bill will cause investors to stop renting out their apartments. He warned the courts are tied up in so many cases that this bill would crash the courts. He stressed that overall this would hurt the landlord which would end up hurting the renter. He warned that trying to regulate the free market further could exacerbate the real estate crisis. He recalled the British Mandate regulations on rent, which made it almost impossible for Jews to rent apartments. He concluded that the government has rejected this bill before but is willing to turn the bill into a motion. Molla rejected the offer.

The bill was defeated 29-39.

Amendment to the Social Security Bill

MK Solodkin (Kadima) explained her amendment would change the qualifying period for students to receive government maternity benefits. She stated the current situation makes it very difficult for students to qualify because they haven’t been in the workforce long enough to qualify for certain privileges. She added that single mothers would receive additional privileges under the bill. She called on the government to get with the socialist program. She agreed to withdraw the bill and postpone the vote to try to lobby government support.

Perpetuating the Memory of the Victims of the Massacre in Kafr Qasim Bill

MK Khenin explained his bill is proposed every year during the week before the massacre of Kafr Qasim, which occurred 55 years ago, in order to memorialize the victims.

MK Barakeh (Hadash) called on Israel to take responsibility for the massacre and to educate every child in Israel of the racist murders of Israeli Arabs in 1956.

Deputy Education Minister Moses (U.T.J.) noted that this bill has been defeated every year for three consecutive terms and this year will be no different. He said that the Knesset can’t tell the Education Minister what to put in the curriculum and the government has no reason to fund NGOs that teach the subject because the government doesn’t fund NGOs.

MK Agbaria (Hadash) slammed the formal response from Moses and called on the government to take responsibility for the massacre. He slammed Israel as a racist country and Israelis as racist people.

The bill was defeated 8-33. MK Akunis announced he voted for the bill by mistake.

Amendment to the Social Security Bill

MK Bibi (Kadima) slammed Deputy Akunis for his behavior earlier in the session. He explained his amendment would make the time veterans spend in reserve duty not count toward the veterans’ two years of preferred work. He said that he agreed to postpone the vote on the bill for a week in order to allow the government time to examine the bill a little longer.

Prohibiting a Concession Agreement on Territory with Totalitarian Regime Countries Bill

MK Ben Ari (N.U.) warned that peace cannot be achieved with enemies and our peace with Egypt is disappearing after only 30 years. He noted that people who spoke out against the Shalit deal were silenced or lynched by the media. He explained his bill prohibits Israel from giving land to any country that doesn’t have more than one political party. He asked if a cold peace of 30 years is worth giving away our oil fields in the Sinai.

Environment Minister Erdan said it is impossible to give land to Syria when their totalitarian regime is about to fall since there won’t be peace and it would harm Israel’s security. He said this bill would harm Israel internationally. He said since there is no land for peace deal on the horizon it isn’t worth the fall out from our allies and, therefore, the government is against it for now.

MK Eldad (N.U.) noted that many in Egypt claim the peace deal with Israel is not valid since it was signed by a dictator and was not the will of the people. He said this is one of the most logical bills to hit the Knesset floor and should be approved.

The bill was defeated 4-16. Coalition MK Rotem (Y.B.) chose to break with the coalition position and voted for the bill.

Amendment to the Housing Loans Bill

MK Cabel (Labor) praised his socialist bill. He explained his amendment would place an obligation on the State to contact those who are failing on their State-funded mortgages and inform them of their rights. He said this bill doesn’t cost any money, it simply requires the government to inform the citizens who are failing on their mortgages on how they might save their houses according to the laws that are already in place.

Deputy Speaker Vaknin (Shas) called for a vote since a minister was not there to give the government response.

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

Discount for Students in Public Transport Fares Bills

MK Tibi (R.T.) explained his original bill would provide a fifty percent discount on all public transportation for students. He said that the social justice protests have brought this issue into the headlines. He agreed to postpone the vote on his bill for a few weeks in order to receive government support at a later date.

MK Horowitz (Meretz) noted that the opposition’s bills throughout the long day were meant to shake the government into waking up and smelling the social justice in the air. He praised public transportation and claimed his similar bill would reduce the number of cars in Israel. He warned that Israel’s public transportation is among the worst in the western world and most Israelis choose instead to use their cars.  He agreed to postpone the vote on his bill for a few weeks in order to receive government support at a later date.

Tuesday’s session lasted about two and a half hours. No bills were discussed. Although it was only the second day back from the 88-day
recess, most MKs chose not to attend the session. Three motions were discussed. Two were passed, and one was defeated.

 

Non-Bills Summary

* 25 MKs took part in the one minute speech segment of the day.

* House Committee Chairman Levin (Likud) announced the planned changes to the official Knesset member lobbies, which the Knesset
approved 9-0.

* House Committee Chairman Levin announced which disputed bills and motions will be discussed in which committees. It was approved 10-0.

* A motion on the ‘Escalation in the security situation in the south’ was discussed by seven MKs and Minister Erdan (Likud). The motion
passed 7-0 and will be discussed further in a committee.

* A motion on the ‘Attacks, threats and statements on the outgoing commander of Judea and Samaria Division, Brigadier General Nitzan
Alon’ was discussed by six MKs and Minister Erdan. The motion was defeated 4-8.

* A motion on the ‘Shalit release and security implications’ was discussed by three MKs and Minister Erdan. The motion was sent for further discussion in a closed session of the Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee by  a vote of 5-0.

Monday’s session, the first day of the fourth winter session, lasted about five and a half hours. Rivlin, Peres, Netanyahu and Livni gave speeches. Four no-confidence motions were defeated, and a bill that would grant soldiers a free year of college in Jerusalem was passed in its first reading. Ambassadors, diplomats, former MKs and the leaders of the tent protesters watched the opening session.

The comedic headline of the day was former Black Panther MK Charlie Bitton getting himself thrown out during President Peres’ speech. Before the session 30 MKs from different parties participated in a group hug.

Non-Bills Summary

* Speaker Rivlin, President Peres, Prime Minister Netanyahu and Opposition Leader Livni gave speeches to open up this Knesset’s fourth winter session. The four speakers took different angles on summarizing the Knesset’s 88-day recess. They agreed the main issue facing Israel going forward is Iran.

* Kadima’s no-confidence motion titled ‘The Netanyahu government’s failure in meeting the housing demand of the citizens of Israel’ was defeated 29-45 with one MK abstaining.

* Hadash, Ra’am-Ta’al and Balad’s joint no-confidence motion titled ‘The government’s failure in the political, economic and social sectors’ was
defeated 24-47 with one MK abstaining.

* Labor’s no-confidence motion titled ‘The failure of the Netanyahu government to reduce social and economic gaps’ was defeated 12-45.

* National Union’s no-confidence titled ‘The demolition of houses of Israeli citizens living in Judea and Samaria’ was defeated 4-47 with 18 MKs abstaining.

* House Committee Chairman Levin (Likud) announced that MK El-Sana (R.T.) and MK Tibi (R.T.) will switch places with El-Sana joining the Funds Committee and Tibi joining the Justice Committee.

Bill Summary

Amendment to the Jerusalem Development Authority Bill

Deputy Minister Gamliel (Likud) explained that the bill would grant every soldier who served his complete service in the I.D.F. or national service their first year of college or university free of charge throughout Jerusalem. She stated this bill is the expansion of a previous February bill that granted a free year to students learning in the Negev, Galil, Ashkelon, Judea and Samaria. She expressed confidence that it would only be a matter of time until she adds another bill that would cover a free year for all university students.

MK Zeev (Shas) expressed his support for the bill. He stressed that Jerusalem is an ultra-orthodox town and resents those who say this bill will help the demographic problem of the city. Zeev went on to slam those who criticize the ultra-orthodox education system.

MK Ben Ari (N.U.) expressed his support for the bill. He asked where the thousand new Jerusalem students are supposed to live when the government refuses to build in metropolitan Jerusalem. He slammed the terrible public transportation in Jerusalem which takes two and a half hours to get from one side to the other.

MK Orlev (J.H.) expressed his support for the bill. He said that many young Jerusalem students have left the city and he hopes this bill becomes retroactive to assist those Jerusalem students who stayed. He expressed hope that the bill will be passed before Deputy Minister Gamliel’s pregnancy due date later this month.

MK Ariel (N.U.) expressed his support for the bill. He slammed Netanyahu for taking control of approving all housing in Jerusalem. He said that Jerusalem needs 5,000-6,000 housing units each year and instead Netanyahu only approves a few hundred a year. He asked the Likud ministers why they are staying silent and asked them to speak up to Netanyahu, if not to the public.

The bill passed its first reading 23-0 and was sent to the Labor Committee.

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