Wednesday’s Knesset session lasted four hours. Nine bills were discussed. 17 bills were on the agenda, but Speaker Rivlin ruled that the session must end by 3 PM no matter what in order to allow the MKs to return home to light Hanukah candles for the second night. Five bills were advanced after passing their preliminary readings, two were defeated and two were withdrawn in order to avoid defeat. The bills advanced will force banks to inform customers of the history of an account they are joining into, limit the number of times a school book can be updated in a decade, extend credit card benefit programs, grant those who quit their job to join national service their severance package and apply technical changes to a Holocaust survivor bill.
* Interior Minister Yishai (Shas), Labor and Welfare Minister Kahlon (Likud), Homefront Defense Minister Vilnai (Independence) and Education Minister Sa’ar (Likud) answered urgent queries at the beginning of the session.
* Finance Committee Chairman Shama presented the request of the joint subcommittee of the Finance and the Education, Culture and Sport Committees to split a bill into two. Seven MKs spoke to give their positions on the splitting of the bill. The bill was split after a 44-25 vote.
Amendment to the Social Security Bill
MK Eichler (U.T.J.) explained his amendment would expand the term “child” for a survivor’s insurance purposes to include children who don’t go to university. He said that in certain cases ultra-orthodox children can’t receive their parents’ insurance if they didn’t go through the Israeli state school system. He stressed that this bill will correct the problem and he has agreed to postpone the vote on the bill for a few weeks in order to gain government support. Shas Faction Manager Jacobson noted that MK Michaeli (Shas) had a similar bill and requested that he be able to present it. Speaker Rivlin denied the request.
Amendment to the Checks without Cover Bill
MK Shemtov (Y.B.) explained her amendment would force the banks to inform a customer who is joining an existing bank account to disclose to the new holder all of the information that is tied to that account.
Deputy Finance Minister Cohen (Shas) expressed government support for the bill.
The bill passed its preliminary reading 32-0 and was sent to the Justice Committee.
Amendment to the State Education Bill
MK Ariel (N.U.) explained his amendment would direct the Education Minister to monitor the price of school textbooks and present him tools to limit the number of updated editions of a textbook every decade.
Education Minister Sa’ar (Likud) praised MK Ariel and expressed government support for the bill. He stated he plans to pass a school book reform that will lower the prices drastically.
The bill passed its preliminary reading 38-0 and was sent to the Education Committee.
Amendment to the Limitations on Consumer Benefit Programs Bill
MK Cabel (Labor) explained his amendment would extend the credit card benefit programs in order to allow more time for people to utilize their stars and points. He added that the amendment would prohibit sales programs that don’t allow reasonable time for the consumer to utilize their rewards.
Industry and Trade Minister Simhon (Independence) expressed government support for the bill.
The bill passed its preliminary reading 28-0 and was sent to the Finance Committee.
Amendment to the Victims of Nazi Persecution Bill
MK Bielski (Kadima) explained his amendment would change the wording of the law that outlines the eligibility for receiving compensation. He said the words would be changed in order to bring justice and have respect for Holocaust survivors in the bill.
Deputy Finance Minister Cohen expressed government support for the bill.
The bill passed its preliminary reading 36-0 and was sent to the Funds Committee.
Amendment to the Severance Pay Bill
MK Shai (Kadima) explained the amendment would enable someone who needs to hand in their resignation due to voluntary service to receive their severance pay. He said that if someone chooses to volunteer for their country they shouldn’t be penalized.
Industry and Trade Minister Simhon expressed government support for the bill.
The bill passed its preliminary reading 46-0 and was sent to the Welfare Committee.
Amendment to the Equal Opportunities Bill
MK Zoabi (Balad) explained her amendment would prohibit the discrimination of those who were not in military service. She slammed those who post on employment advertisements that for jobs such as waitressing army service is a necessary requirement. She went on to blast the Israeli army. She said that the connection between the army and business is wrong and must be abolished. She called on Israelis to boycott any business that requires army experience for a job. She thanked the Arabs, pacifists and the ultra-orthodox for supporting her bill.
Industry and Trade Minister Simhon expressed government opposition to the bill on the grounds that the bill already protects discrimination on the basis of nationality or religion. He said this amendment could limit the implementation of the bill by stressing this one point. He revealed that this will probably be his last term as an MK unless Shas decides to allocate a spot for a secular Jew.
The bill was defeated 4-35.
Amendment to the Press Ordinance Bill
MK Khenin (Hadash) explained his amendment would revoke certain paragraphs in the Press Ordinance Bill, which has been in place since the British Mandate more than 80 years ago. He said that the Interior ministry would no longer be able to approve licenses for newspapers under the changes and would no longer be allowed to close a newspaper down. He said it would turn Israel into a real democracy that really has a free press. He went on to blast the government for opposing freedom of the press.
Industry and Trade Minister Simhon expressed government opposition to the bill on the grounds that repealing the paragraphs without replacing them with new Israeli laws would harm the checks and balances within Israeli democracy. He said that this government won’t harm democracy by supporting this bill.
MK Khenin said that the Press Ordinance is not democratic and it is the government who is deciding to side with anti-democratic British mandate laws.
The bill was defeated 6-13 with 2 MKs abstaining.
Amendment to the Value Added Tax Bill
MK Sheetrit (Kadima) explained his amendment would eliminate VAT on gasoline tax. He said that a tax on a tax is wrong and must be abolished. He noted that the government could increase one tax without needing to divide the tax between two taxes. He said that he is postponing the vote on the bill in order to gain government support.