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.
* 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.
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.