Archive for February, 2012


The Knesset’s Tuesday session lasted about three hours. No bills were discussed. A motion on the Struggle against Poverty Day was the highlight of the day. Changes to the Knesset protocol were passed with complete agreement among the parties.

 

Non-Bills Summary

* 16 MKs gave speeches during the one minute speech segment that opened the session.

* A motion on the Struggle against Poverty Day was discussed by Speaker Rivlin, Environment Minister Erdan (Likud) and 12 MKs.

* House Committee Chairman Levin (Likud) announced cosmetic and technical changes to the Knesset protocol. The changes were approved 8-0.

* House Committee Chairman Levin announced which disputed bills would be discussed in which committees.

* Environment Minister Erdan answered two queries at the end of the session.

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This was the Knesset Jeremy English translation protocol of the Knesset’s February 14, 2012, session.

Official protocol in Hebrew: http://www.knesset.gov.il/plenum/data/00971112.doc

The Knesset’s Monday session lasted about four hours. Four bills were discussed. One bill became law after passing its third reading and three bills were advanced after passing their first readings. The highlighted bill of the day was one that would allow Jewish tourists to stay in Israel for up to five years without having to visit the Interior Ministry (Misrad HaPanim). Other bills dealt with construction waste pollution, government repo men and sports labor unions.

 

Non-Bills Summary

* Kadima’s no-confidence motion titled ‘Netanyahu’s government deepens the social gaps and continues to hurt the middle class and the disadvantaged’ was defeated 33-43 with 44 MKs not present.

* Labor and Meretz’s joint no-confidence motion titled ‘The government’s impotence in the political, social and economic sectors’ was defeated 32-45 with 43 MKs not present.

* Hadash, Ra’am-Ta’al and Balad’s joint no-confidence motion titled ‘War threats from government ministers’ was defeated 11-46-1 with 62 MKs not present.

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

* A motion on ‘Local Government Day’ was discussed by Speaker Rivlin, Hasbara Minister Edelstein (Likud) and five MKs.

 

Bills Summary

Amendment to the Sports Bill

Education, Culture and Sport Committee Chairman Miller (Y.B.) explained the amendment would update the labor laws in the Israeli sport labor groups effective June 30, 2012.

The bill passed its second reading 25-0 with one MK abstaining.

The bill passed its third reading 24-0 with one MK abstaining.

Amendment to the Repo Bill

Hasbara Minister Edelstein (Likud) explained the amendment would allow government repo men to finish cases they started for the three months following their retirement. He said this amendment will also allow repo men to finish cases that previous repo men already started, improving the current situation that forces them to start over.

MK Eichler (U.T.J.) said the government should do more for the Arab community in term of police protection of law and order. He wondered what is being done with the billions of shekels going towards their communities. He charged opposition parties are securing more funds for their communities than the coalition parties. He slammed Opposition Leader Livni for saying the ultra-orthodox don’t contribute to the country in any way and are a burden to society.

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

Amendment to the Maintenance and Cleanliness Bill

Environment Minister Erdan (Likud) explained the amendment would prevent construction waste in public areas by transferring the removal responsibility to the local authorities. He said seven and a half million tons of construction waste is created every year. He revealed that five million tons of waste goes missing and ends up in public areas. He went on to slam those that harm the environment by dumping in open green areas.

MK Eichler slammed the government for choosing to spend billions of shekels on the Dead Sea instead of on poor hungry children. He said he can’t believe the country anymore when they say they don’t have money. He said the priorities in this country are messed up. He went on to slam environmentalists who are driving up the prices of gasoline with their demands for cleaner fuel.

MK Khenin (Hadash) praised the bill. He said the polluting companies should be the ones to pay for cleaning up their waste and hopes the local authorities fine them heavily if they keep polluting. He disagreed with the exemption from the bill given to the defense establishment and hoped to change this exemption in the committee meetings. He said this should be a country that has an army and not an army that has a country.

MK Ben Ari (N.U.) said he was troubled with the number of crimes within the Arab community, mostly crimes of robberies and murders. He added that issues of tax evasion are also very troubling in that sector. He said in society it is important to give, not just take.

MK Zeev (Shas) went on to attack MK Tibi (R.T.) for getting special treatment from Prime Minister Netanyahu and senior ministers. He said there is a lot of garbage in Israel and forcing the local authority to pay for it is wrong. He warned local taxes will be raised to pay for serial polluting.

Environment Minister Erdan told MK Zeev to read the bill. He said this bill will not cost the tax payers any money and won’t lead to an increase in taxes. He said the local authority and the construction company will come to an agreement on how much the cost of removal will be according to a price per ton arrangement.

The bill passed its first reading 19-0 and was sent to the Environment Committee.

Amendment to the Entry into Israel Bill

MK Michaeli (Shas) explained the amendment would allow Jewish tourists who are eligible for the right to return to have their tourist visa extended for up to five years. He said the burden of having our Jewish brothers wait in line several times a year in the interior ministry office will be over once this very just bill is passed.

MK Ben Ari eulogized a retired general who had passed away the day before. He said that many one-year American Jews decide against immigration to Israel because of the interior ministry’s policy against them. He expressed hope this bill will give the youth courage to stay in Israel and not go back to their parents in America. He noted every year 150,000 Jews marry non-Jews and are lost. He stated this bill will bring the children, who will eventually bring their parents.

MK Zeev said this important Shas bill will help thousands of Jews. He said in the Mir Yeshiva alone there are 3,000 Americans. He said the time has come to stop scaring off Jews from Israel. He said we shouldn’t force people to be Israelis; rather, they should be given the chance to become Israeli according to their own timetable.

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

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This was the Knesset Jeremy English translation protocol of the Knesset’s February 13, 2012, session.

Official protocol in Hebrew: http://www.knesset.gov.il/plenum/data/00942612.doc

The Knesset’s Wednesday session had no bills, queries or motions. It was a festive plenary session that presented an excuse for Israel’s top figures to give speeches on their vision of the Knesset.

Non-Bills Summary

* Speaker Rivlin, President Peres, Prime Minister Netanyahu and Opposition Leader Livni gave speeches marking the Knesset’s 63rd birthday on Tu B’Shvat.

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This was the Knesset Jeremy English translation protocol of the Knesset’s February 8, 2012, session.

Official protocol in Hebrew: There was no official protocol for this date.

The Knesset’s Tuesday session lasted about two and a half hours. One bill was discussed and became law after passing its third reading. Ironically, on a day with a motion marking the 75th anniversary of Mekorot, the first Israeli water company, the Knesset also discussed the increase of gas and electricity prices. The relatively short day, even for a Tuesday, resulted in lower attendance than usual. Another consideration was the previous night’s long session.

 

Non-Bills Summary

* 14 MKs spoke during the one minute speech segment that opened the session.

* MK Shai (Kadima) announced the Finance Committee’s request to split a bill into two. MK Tibi (R.T.) added his two cents. The split was approved 17-0.

* A motion on the 75th anniversary of Mekorot was discussed by Speaker Rivlin, Energy and Water Minister Landau (Y.B.) and seven MKs.

* A motion on the increase of electricity and gasoline prices was discussed by two MKs and Energy and Water Minister Landau.

* Homeland Security Minister Aharonovitch answered queries from five MKs at the end of the session.

 

Bill Summary

Amendment to the Fines, Fees and Expenses Collection Center Bill

Justice, Law and Constitution Committee Chairman Rotem (Y.B.) said the amendment would require the collection center to pay the first 10,000 shekels temporarily in civil court damage cases and the defendant will reimburse the collection center. He said that many times the defendant takes his time paying the person he damaged. He expressed hope that by allowing the first NIS 10,000 to come from the government the person damaged will be able to go on with their life faster.

The bill passed its second reading 18-0.

The bill passed its third reading 17-0.

MK Levi-Abekasis (Y.B.) thanked the Knesset for approving another one of her bills.

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This was the Knesset Jeremy English translation protocol of the Knesset’s February 7, 2012, session.

Official protocol in Hebrew: http://www.knesset.gov.il/plenum/data/00851412.doc#_Toc316418930

The Knesset’s Monday session lasted about eight and a half hours, ending early Tuesday morning. Nine bills were discussed. Four bills became law after passing their third readings, and five were advanced after passing their first readings. The four National Union MKs filibustered most of the night away on two bills that authorize sending 1,850 mandatory draftees to the police and 1,300 mandatory draftees to the prison service. The government survived the weekly no-confidence motions.

Non-Bills Summary

* Kadima’s no-confidence motion titled ‘The Netanyahu government has increased the burden on the middle class and has raised again the prices of fuel, electricity, water and property taxes’ was defeated 36-52 with 32 MKs not present.

* Labor and Meretz’s joint no-confidence motion titled ‘The Netanyahu government’s failure in the political, economic and social sectors’ was defeated 34-52 with 34 MKs not present.

* Hadash, Ra’am-Ta’al and Balad’s joint no-confidence motion titled ‘The government’s incompetence in the ongoing housing shortage with no solutions, many programs and few actions’ was defeated 26-53 with 41 MKs not present.

Bills Summary

Amendment to the Regional Councils Bill

Interior and Environment Committee Chairman Cohen (Shas) explained the amendment would merge the date of regional councils’ general elections from two separate dates into one date. He said the date will be every five years on the third Tuesday in the Jewish month of Tevet. He said there will be a process that merges the two dates into one and the process will have the dates meet on May 29, 2018. He added the amendment would also change the way absentee soldiers vote.

The bill passed its second reading 31-0.

The bill passed its third reading 25-0.

Amendment to the Military Justice Bill

MK Matalon (Y.B.) explained the amendment would not exclude drug crimes and AWOL crimes from a soldier’s personal record when he becomes a veteran. He said that many soldiers find it hard to get a job when their potential employers find one these two crimes on their record. He said the bill will take effect on April 4.

The bill passed its second reading 21-1.

The bill passed its third reading 18-1.

Amendment to the Defense Service Bill

MK Matalon explained that since 1986 the police have been able to enlist mandatory draftees instead of them serving in the army. It has been a temporary provision since 1995 and has been extended dozens of times, each time increasing the number of citizens serving in the police force instead of their military service. He stressed that the policemen receive the same rights as their military counterparts. He noted that in 2010 a multi-ministerial committee decided that mandatory draftees shouldn’t serve in the police because they are being used as a cheap labor force that fill the least productive positions and have become more like contracted workers that are filling the needs of a lean police workforce. He reported that Police Chief Danino and Finance Minister Steinitz (Likud) asked the government to keep sending mandatory draftees into the police because of the shortage of manpower. He announced the compromise will be that the temporary amendment will be extended until the end of 2015 and the number of mandatory draftees serving in the police will be gradually lowered from 1,850 to 1,600. He asked the Knesset to defeat the opposition’s objections.

MK Eldad (N.U.) said it is unacceptable to take mandatory draftees meant for the army and to send them to the police. He said that during the first intifada female soldiers were sent to be security guards in public areas such as cinemas and coffee houses. He stated that the government eventually forced the private companies to place their own guards at the entrances in public areas. He reported that the second intifada led to another wave of increasing the number of policemen that were supposed to be soldiers. He said the police have become a cheap workforce since a large percentage of policemen are mandatory draftees. He agreed that the police are important but he asked why are we sending mandatory draftees to the police instead of sending to them to be firefighters, ambulance medics, lifeguards or counselors at shelters for battered women. He said other things are important too. He stated the motive behind this bill is to save money because a policeman makes NIS 6,000 a month and a mandatory draftee policeman makes NIS 350 a month. He said it is the job of the police to prevent burglaries and it is the job of mandatory draftees to protect Israel from her enemies. He slammed the bill for being retroactive since the latest temporary amendment expired more than a month ago. He said the government should have respect for the law.

MK Katzeleh (N.U.) said he supports the measure for everyone to serve in the army or national service. He asked why the government wants to draft the ultra-orthodox if they have run out of room in the army for their soldiers and have started to spread them out to other places. He suggested ending the mandatory draft since the army has reached full capacity. He listed the laws of army exemptions taught in the Torah. He said Israel’s army should be filled with heroes and they should be paid good money. He asked what the army would do with 8,000 ultra-orthodox soldiers, and if they could pay for each one’s supplies. He asked if the government could afford to buy each soldier three pairs of shoes, pay their NIS 350 salaries, buy uniforms and so on. He suggested that making the army voluntary would increase the number of ultra-orthodox soldiers if good money was involved. He noted that in 2000 there were 90,000 births in Israel and in 2011 there were 118,000. He charged that the army can’t deal with the large number of soldiers they want to enlist, which is why they are sending them off to the police.

MK Ben Ari (N.U.) said he isn’t against the police, he is for the police. He said that soldiers are built from a different material and have a different mentality. He said they serve a different purpose and are from separate worlds. He said the army is meant to defend Israel’s borders and the police are meant to protect within Israel’s borders. He recalled when the army evicted Jews from their homes in Gush Katif and slammed them for using their uniforms and wearing the Israeli flag for a mission that wasn’t a military mission. He blasted the government for sending 60,000 soldiers for that mission. He said that during war there is no place for humanitarianism or showing mercy, and that can’t be taught to someone who goes to the police. He said this bill teaches the youth to fight for a place in the police, mossad or shabak instead of serving with their brothers in the army. He said he understands that the government is trying to save money but some things are not worth it. He blasted the message we are sending to our children by turning the police into a cheap labor force. He said that we teach our children to love the army and this bill is tearing it up by telling them they have other options.

The planned filibuster ended at the 35 minute mark because MK Ariel (N.U.) was not in the room to take his turn.

Homeland Security Minister Aharonovitch (Y.B.) said he agreed the police need more regular policemen but explained the government is only giving him mandatory draftees and he needs to take what he can get. He said mandatory draftees are sent to the department of defense, mossad, shabak, prison service and border police, and he is allowed to ask the police to receive its share too. He said the 1,860 mandatory draftees serving in the police are doing a great job and asked the Knesset to defeat the objections.

Speaker Rivlin announced he wouldn’t allow the Knesset to vote on the 1,850 objections on the bill and would instead vote on 18 objections. He said that common sense shows that if objection 100 isn’t accepted and objection 200 isn’t accepted that objections 101-199 would not have been accepted. He said that if objection 200 is accepted, he will go back to vote on objection 101 and so forth. He said he will be using his power as Speaker to go against the Knesset protocol. He also refused to discuss this matter before the next bill which has the same issue.

MK Eldad said that each objection represents each soldier that is being sent to the police and that the Knesset’s legal adviser agrees that Knesset protocol forces the Speaker to allow the 1,850 votes to take place. He added that disagreements like this cannot be solved by the Speaker and must be resolved in the House Committee. He stressed it is troubling the Speaker won’t follow the Knesset protocol when he is the one who is meant to safeguard it. He asked the Speaker to talk with him before the next bill which has a similar arrangement.

MK Ariel (N.U.) suggested Rivlin postpone the vote and spend ten minutes discussing the issue behind closed doors. Rivlin refused.

The bill’s paragraphs were passed in their second readings 24-2, 24-3 and 24-4.

The objections were defeated 2-26, 2-26, 2-26, 3-20 and 3-22. Other objections were defeated by a show of hands.

The bill passed its third reading 25-3.

Amendment to the Security Service Bill

MK Matalon announced that in 2005 the government transferred the responsibilities of the three security prisons that deal with terrorists- Megido, Ofer and Kesiot- from the military to the prison service. He said because the prison service did not have enough manpower soldiers were allowed to be transferred to the prison service as part of a temporary amendment in 2005. He noted these
mandatory draftees receive the same benefits as regular soldiers. He explained this retroactive bill would allow mandatory draftees to serve in the prison service instead of army from the beginning of 2012 and extend the temporary amendment until the end of 2015. He concluded 1,300 mandatory draftees will serve in the prison service.

MK Eldad slammed Speaker Rivlin’s handling of the last bill’s voting, which he said resembled a public auction. He said no one is claiming the prison service doesn’t have enough guards. Rather, this measure will allow the prison service to use mandatory draftees as a cheap labor force. He said that if we are going to send mandatory draftees to other places, why not make them coast guards. He went on to list his 18 objections. He said the first will turn the temporary amendment into a mandatory amendment that will last until the messiah is reborn. He went back to slamming Speaker Rivlin for acting against the Knesset protocol and clumping objections into collections of one hundred. He said that this is a dangerous precedent. He said that each shekel looks like the other shekel, but each soldier doesn’t look like the next soldier and shouldn’t be treated as such. He explained that another one of his objections deals with sending mandatory draftees to serve as lifeguards in the winter. He noted over 60 Israelis drown every year, more than the number killed in terrorist attacks. He suggested the government is against the idea since they don’t pay the salaries of lifeguards and the move wouldn’t save the government money. He announced another objection would send mandatory draftees to serve as firefighters, which is good timing following the Carmel fire fiasco. He stated another objection would send mandatory draftees to Magen David Adom to serve as paramedics in ambulances. He went on to slam Magen David Adom for selling their souls to join the Red Cross and decided to pull that objection.

He explained many other objections to the bill, which would:
· Send mandatory draftees to protect shelters for battered women.
· Send mandatory draftees to work as security guards on buses, in coffee houses, in soccer stadiums and other places.
· Only place a mandatory draftee into the prison service if the draftee wanted to so that they wouldn’t be taking away mandatory draftees who really want to be soldiers.
· Require the mandatory draftees to be paid as regular prison service employees. He suggested the government’s opposition to this objection shows the government’s true face and proves the only reason they want this bill is to have a cheap workforce.
· Require those who stay in the prison service after their mandatory three years to be allowed to count their mandatory service as part of their seniority and benefit package.
· Enable the mandatory draftees who serve in the prison service to receive full psychiatric care and additional compensation.
· Allow a mandatory draftee serving in the prisons to have additional vacation days.
· Allow the prison service draftees to wear a military uniform during their vacation days.
· Force the prison service to place the religious mandatory draftees in the torah sections of the jail and prevent them from being within earshot of female prisoners.
· Allow mandatory draftees to write graffiti on the bathroom walls.
· Allow mandatory draftees to have three years written off from a jail sentence if they decide to join a life of crime after meeting criminals in the joint, as well as allowing them to serve as MKs.

He concluded that the youth don’t grow up dreaming of being a prison guard; rather, they dream of being a soldier. Then he read a poem.

MK Katzeleh praised MK Eldad for leading the effort. He slammed the government for passing this bill aggressively. He agreed with Deputy Speaker Molla (Kadima) that the mandatory draftees should be on the southern border stopping illegal immigrants instead of serving as jailers. He said that jailers have a tough job and he really appreciates the work they do and the work shouldn’t be cheapened by finding a cheap workforce to replace them. He went on to list the many nations who tried to wipe Israel off the face of the earth and how the Jewish people survived because of their thirst for the land of Israel. He said what it means to be Israeli today, to him, is stressing the importance of the land of Israel, being a religious Jew and being a part of the Jewish nation. He said when he is named Defense Minister he will change the name of the army from Israel Defense Forces to Israel Attack Forces. Speaker Rivlin said we never attacked anyone. Katzeleh responded that there are many War Ministers and for some reason in Israel it is Defense Minister. He took a break to point out that he really respects Minister Eitan (Likud), who once spoke for 11 straight hours. He went on to share passages of Torah about the Israeli armies. He said the Tal Law is working because each year the ultra-orthodox enlistment rate grows and eventually they will be leading the elite units. He took another break to ask the public to say prayers for the health of Rabbi Elyashiv, who is very sick. He remembered how he was among the first religious soldiers to be in an elite unit and become an officer. He listed the names of the first religious officers of elite units from the early 1970’s and said one day the ultra-orthodox will serve in that capacity in the future.

MK Ariel said the government has turned the army into a contractor service that hands out soldiers to areas where the government feels they can utilize a cheap workforce and save money. He noted instead of extending it for six months or a year, this time they chose to extend it for three years. He slammed the government for taking the Judea and Samaria settlements off of the preferred housing list and slammed Shas in particular for leading the move. He said the government repealing their own decision a few days later shows it is a weak government. He slammed Magen David Adom for deciding to change their operations in Judea and Samaria. He blasted the government for freezing a great majority of Judea and Samaria’s settlement growth. He attacked Netanyahu’s Bar Ilan speech. He told the nationalistic prime minister, ministers and coalition members they should start acting nationalistic.

MK Ben Ari said this bill hurts the army more than it helps the prison service. He went on to discuss great battles that occurred during Jewish history, mostly during the period of the second temple. He went on to quote David Ben Gurion, who told the Etzel and Lechi that history will not judge him because he will be the one who writes the history books. He went on to slam journalists like Haaretz’s Gidon Levi who are not historians and who spread lies. He spent about an hour tearing apart Yosefus’ and other Romans’ historical records. Deputy Speaker Vaknin (Shas) argued with Ben Ari every time he had a conflict with Ben Ari’s position and Torah tradition. He concluded soldiers should stay in the army and not be sent to other places.

MK Eldad thanked Ben Ari for his interesting history lesson. He went on to say he is protecting the army by submitting all of these objections. He quoted Jewish poets from over the years who dreamed of serving in an Israeli army for almost two thousand years. He said that paying mandatory draftees NIS 350 a month is a way for the government to get around the Supreme Court’s decision to prohibit the privatization of the Prison Service. He read the original Security Service bill as passed by Prime Minister Ben Gurion in 1949 and noted there is no place for policemen or prison service in the bill; however, there is a place that allows the mandatory draftees to be trained in agriculture. He said that he is against sending mandatory draftees to other places like being secretaries in the department of defense or other areas, which takes away good jobs meant for civilians. He went on to list the objections that he had for the previous bill that would also apply for this bill. He added the objection that a mandatory draftee serving in prison should be allowed to get a university degree during their service. He asked the government to reveal which objections they agree with and which they don’t.

Deputy Speaker Vaknin announced he will not vote on each objection and will vote on the objections by quarters of the year, instead of every day of the year. He decided to call most of the votes by a show of hands. He thanked the National Union for ending their filibuster of the bill after five hours.

MK Eldad responded that Vaknin is not following the Knesset protocol and that each objection must be voted on.

The bill’s paragraphs passed their second readings 13-1, 17-2, 17-2.

The objections were defeated 2-13, 2-13, 2-14, 2-13, 2-14, 2-14, 0-16.

The bill passed its third reading 17-2.

Two Amendments to the Prison Ordinance Bill

Homeland Security Minister Aharonovitch explained the amendment would change the terms of imprisonment for all prisoners regarding their rights and benefits. He said because it is a first reading and it is after midnight, he won’t get into details.

MK Khenin (Hadash) explained his similar amendment would force the prison service to grant appropriate detention conditions to prisoners. He said it is so late that it is a new day and a new, better day for human rights.

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

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

Two Amendments to the Compensation for Victims of Polio Bill

MK Pinyan (Likud) explained the amendment would allow polio patients who contracted polio outside of Israel to receive the same compensation given to polio patients diagnosed in Israel. He said there are about 600 polio patients who would enjoy the compensation, which is a one time grant and a monthly pension.

MK Azoulay (Shas) explained his similar amendment would accomplish the same thing. He thanked the polio patients who stayed up late and were sitting in the visitors’ area.

The first bill passed its first reading 17-0 and was sent to the Welfare Committee.

The second bill passed its first reading 17-0 and was sent to the Welfare Committee.

Amendment to the Dentists Ordinance Bill

Religious Affairs Minister Margi (Shas) explained the bill would allow dentists from overseas to join exchange programs with Israeli dentistry study institutions.

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

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This was the Knesset Jeremy English translation protocol of the Knesset’s February 6, 2012, session.

Official protocol in Hebrew: http://www.knesset.gov.il/plenum/data/00840212.doc

A Panels Polling Company internet based poll broadcast by Knesset Channel 99 on February 22, 2012, shows Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Likud remains at the top with 30 seats, but the nationalist block he represents drops to 64 seats. Foreign Minister Liberman’s Yisrael Beitenu comes in with 14 seats.  Labor receives 16 seats in the poll and becomes the leader of the center-left block, with Kadima’s 13 and Lapid’s 11 within striking distance. Meretz’s seven seat finish is most likely a bump thanks to their recent leadership primary. National Union’s six seats compared to Jewish Home’s three seats will help their bargaining strength during the merger negotiations. Shas drops to six seats, UTJ drops to five, and Hadash and Ra’am-Ta’al drop to three each. Balad maintains their three seats while Independence doesn’t pass the threshold.

 

If elections were held today who would you vote for?
Current Knesset seats in [brackets]

30 [27] Likud
16 [08] Labor
14 [15] Yisrael Beitenu
13 [28] Kadima
11 [---] Yair Lapid Party
07 [03] Meretz
06 [04] National Union
06 [11] Shas
05 [05] Yahadut Hatorah/UTJ
03 [03] Jewish Home
03 [03] Balad
03 [04] Hadash
03 [04] Ra’am-Ta’al
00 [05] Independence

Panels also asked voters of three different demographics which candidate they support in the Kadima leadership race next month.

Entire population: Livni 24% ― Mofaz 16% ― Dichter 15% ― None of them 32%

2009 Kadima voters: Livni 43% ― Dichter 15% ― Mofaz 12% ― None of them 25%

Plan to vote Kadima in 2012 or 2013: Livni 68% ― Mofaz 19% ― Dichter 13%

The Knesset’s Wednesday session lasted about seven and a half hours. 14 bills were discussed. Five bills advanced after passing their preliminary readings, four were turned into motions, three were not voted on in order to avoid defeat, and two were defeated. The bills advanced deal with motorcycle insurance, prevention of minors in prostitution, encouraging disabled people to enter the work force and prohibiting the tapping of computers.

Non-Bills Summary

* Interior Minister Yishai (Shas), Education Minister Sa’ar (Likud) and Deputy Finance Minister Cohen (Shas) answered urgent queries at the beginning of the session.

* A special ceremony commemorating the former Czech president Vaclav Havel was held with speeches from Speaker Rivlin, Prime Minister Netanyahu and MK Avital (Kadima).

* Six motions were discussed on a wide variety of topics. Five of them were sent to committee to be discussed further by the votes 9-0, 10-0, 4-0, 5-0 and 4-0. One motion was defeated 0-6 after the MKs decided they had spoken enough about the topic.

 

Bills Summary

Motion/Amendment to the Government Bill

MK Eichler (U.T.J.) explained his amendment would require ministers to report why regulations were not enacted by the date they were required to begin. He said if a minister chooses not to follow the law, he should give a reason for it. Speaker Rivlin said this was one of the best bills he has seen this term and attacked the government for opposing it. Eichler slammed the press for not attacking ministers who choose not to follow the law. He went on to slam capitalism and praise socialism. He told the liberals they should respect ultra-orthodoxy’s method of higher education if they respect the Arabs’ methods. He went on to praise Jewish life, its connection to Hebron and Education Minister Sa’ar for bringing Israeli schoolchildren to visit there. He agreed to turn the bill into a motion.

The motion passed 14-0 and was sent to the House Committee.

Amendment to the Motor Vehicle Insurance Ordinance Bill

MK Shama (Likud) explained his amendment would change the insurance components for motorcycles and truck drivers in order to lower the rates back to the 2001 levels. He said the current high rates have discouraged people from owning motorcycles and trucks and his bill will lower them considerably. He blamed lobbyists for giving motorcycle drivers a bad name and manipulating statistics. He said the government doesn’t have a position on the bill.

MK Zeev (Shas) slammed the insurance companies for over charging and the government for thinking that solving that problem will lower the number of traffic accidents. He suggested the government take a percentage of the profits and invest it in better roads. He suggested this bill might be the problem and not the solution.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 18-0 with MK Zeev abstaining and was sent to the House Committee to determine which committee should discuss the bill.

Amendment to the Penal Code Bill

MK Orlev (J.H.) explained the punishment for maintaining a place for the prostitution of a minor will be raised from the minimum sentence of two years to seven years.

Justice Minister Neeman expressed government support for the bill.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 15-0 and was sent to the Justice Committee.

Two Amendments to the Mandatory Tenders Bill

MK Avraham Balila (Kadima) explained her amendment would encourage companies to hire workers with disabilities. She said in 2004 there were 165,000 disabled people on welfare and three quarters of them have previous work experience.

MK Orlev explained his similar amendment attempts to accomplish the same goal – to have more disabled people in the workforce. He said it is social justice to support the bills.

Deputy Finance Minister Cohen expressed government support for both bills.

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

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

Amendment to the Computer Bill

MK Avraham Balila explained her amendment would close a loophole that allows the tapping of phones through computers or other technical devices that are not currently included under law. She stated this bill would protect privacy laws and combat piracy and viruses.

Justice Minister Neeman expressed government support for the bill and said this bill will allow Israel to join the 2001 Budapest International Convention on Cybercrime.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 23-0 and was sent to the House Committee to determine which committee will discuss the bill further.

Motion/Amendment to the Planning and Building Bill

MK Barakeh (Hadash) explained his amendment would prohibit the demolition of Bedouins’ homes in the Negev. He went on to give a fiery ten minute speech blasting the government for demolishing Bedouins’ homes.

Interior Minister Yishai (Shas) said that this has been an issue since he was MK Zeev’s assistant in the Jerusalem municipality during the 1980’s and he has always been against demolishing homes for no reason.

Minister Begin (Likud) said that compromise is the best solution and called for turning the bill into a motion to discuss the matter further in committee.

MK El-Sana (R.T.) said that when it comes to people’s houses the only compromise that is acceptable is not demolishing their house.

Minister Begin suggested it is the Bedouins who don’t want to compromise or make sacrifices and that will cause them to lose their houses. He called on Bedouin tribes to stop fighting each other and asking the government to act as the referee.

The motion passed 31-1 and was sent to the Interior Committee.

Amendment to the Planning and Building Bill

MK Sheetrit (Kadima) explained his amendment would require the posting of planning and building committee decisions and pending decisions on the internet instead of in newspaper advertisements. He said that this will make it an easier process, will help serve the public and will help the government save millions every year.

Religious Affairs Minister Margi (Shas) expressed government opposition to the bill on the grounds that not everyone has internet and instead the government will go with a bill that includes the internet and the newspapers. He added that religious people don’t use the internet frequently and many newspapers might close if they don’t have money coming in from required newspaper ads.

MK Sheetrit said that he is willing to remove his clause on closing the newspapers but asked why the government can’t support the website aspect of the bill. He agreed to postpone the vote on the bill in order to give the government more time to come around.

Amendment to the Social Security Bill

MK Sheetrit explained his amendment would grant military and national service veterans an exemption from payment of health insurance premiums and social security payments for four years after their service ends. He said the bill will cost NIS 80 million annually. He agreed to postpone the vote on the bill in order to enlist government support.

Motion/Amendment to the Security Service Bill

MK Bibi (Kadima) explained his amendment would require a criminal record check before moving a soldier from the army to the Border Police. He said it is not proper to move a soldier to the Border Police and three months later send him back to the army because they forgot to do a simple security check.  He agreed to turn the bill into a motion in order to have a committee discussion on the matter.

The motion passed 26-0 and was sent to the Interior Committee.

Amendment to the Preventing Domestic Violence Bill

MK Solodkin (Kadima) explained her amendment would automatically place in jail anyone who violates a protection or restraining order. She noted 20% of women killed in domestic abuse cases had a standing court order against the person who killed them that was violated more than once. She called the government’s decision to oppose the bill an embarrassment.

Industry and Trade Minister Simhon (Independence) expressed government opposition to the bill on the grounds that it takes discretion out of the hands of policemen on the scene of a court order violation.

The bill was defeated 14-28.

Amendment to the Social Security Bill

Labor and Welfare Minister Kahlon (Likud) responded to MK Solodkin’s bill that was previously presented on changing the qualifying period for maternity social security benefits for students. He said that he had previously asked Solodkin to postpone the vote on her bill but he failed to convince the government to support her bill. He asked the coalition defeat the bill.

MK Solodkin told the coalition to vote for her bill and expressed sorrow that Kahlon wasn’t able to attain government support.

The bill was defeated 15-28.

Motion/Amendment to the Mandatory Tenders Bill

MK Cabel (Labor) told those who didn’t want to hear his bill to have Shira’s espresso in the cafeteria. He explained his amendment would prohibit companies from having the highest salary be more than 40 times the lowest salary. He said that his bill would mean the CEO would be limited to NIS 160,000 a month if he hired people who make minimum wage. He asked how social justice can be achieved if they oppose such an elementary bill. He said most of the companies that have failed are because of problematic management and not problematic workers.  He agreed to turn the bill into a motion in order to discuss the bill further in committee.

The motion passed 19-0 and was sent to the Funds Committee.

Amendment to the National Health Insurance Bill

MK Eldad (N.U.) explained his amendment would change the terms for replacing medication, medical treatment, medical care, a medical service provider or medical facilities in order to make them easier. He said that by allowing the transfer of medical items more easily the public will receive a better product. He agreed to postpone the vote on the bill to try and help convince the government to support the bill at a later date.

 

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This was the Knesset Jeremy English translation protocol of the Knesset’s February 1, 2012, session.

 

Official protocol in Hebrew: http://www.knesset.gov.il/plenum/data/00738212.doc

The nationalist camp grows to 76 seats according to a poll conducted by Professor Avi Degani, President of the Geocartography group, on Friday, February 17, 2012. Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Likud jumps to a term-high 39 seats, surpassing his previous high of 38 in early January. Foreign Minister Liberman’s Yisrael Beitenu finishes second with 13 seats, a drop of two from their current position and a seat above their term-low 12. Opposition Leader Livni’s Kadima, which is in the middle of a primary battle, drops to 12 seats, a loss of more than half of their current seats. Labor captures 12 seats as well, and Shas rounds out the top five parties with nine seats. Former journalist Yair Lapid’s party drops to six seats, its lowest showing since September. If the National Union and Jewish Home would merge before elections, the poll places them as the fifth largest party with ten seats. According to this poll, Netanyahu could form a coalition of 62 seats with Liberman, National Union and Jewish Home without the need for any ultra-orthodox or center-left parties.

 

If elections were held today who would you vote for?

Current Knesset seats in [brackets]

 

39 [27] Likud
13 [15] Yisrael Beitenu
12 [28] Kadima
12 [08] Labor
09 [11] Shas
06 [---] Yair Lapid Party
05 [04] National Union
05 [03] Jewish Home
05 [05] Yahadut Hatorah/UTJ
04 [03] Meretz
10 [11] Balad, Hadash and Ra’am-Ta’al
00 [05] Independence

 

76 Nationalist Camp

The Knesset’s Tuesday session lasted about an hour and a half. One bill was advanced after passing its first reading. The bill would allow those who volunteer before army to receive benefits when they quit their jobs to enroll in the program.

 

Non-Bills Summary

* 15 MKs spoke during the one minute speech segment. The main topic was the Likud primaries that were being conducted that day.

* Four MKs asked queries to Immigration and Absorption Minister Landver (Y.B.) during a question hour.

 

Bills Summary

Amendment to the Severance Bill

MK Shai (Kadima) explained his amendment would give the same benefits to citizens who quit their jobs to spend a year after high school volunteering as it does to those who quit their jobs to go into the military. He said these volunteering citizens are allowed to defer their military service a year and there is no reason why they shouldn’t get the same benefits when they quit their job to perform their service. He said the government should be promoting giving back to society among teenagers.

The bill passed its first reading 4-0 and was sent to the Welfare Committee.

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This was the Knesset Jeremy English translation protocol of the Knesset’s January 31, 2012, session.

Official protocol in Hebrew: http://www.knesset.gov.il/plenum/data/00694912.doc

The Knesset’s Monday session lasted about three and a half hours. Four bills were discussed. Three bills were advanced after passing their first readings, and one bill became law after passing its third reading. The new law allows women to file a complaint seven years after an act of sexual harassment. The bills advanced increase gas station inspections, increase the number of retired judges working cases, and fix military plea bargains so that they are in line with civil plea bargains. The government defeated three no-confidence motions.

 

Non-Bills Summary

* Kadima’s no-confidence motion titled ‘The Netanyahu government violates the fundamental right of the middle class to housing in general and obtainable housing in particular’ was defeated 31-49 with 40 MKs not present.

* Labor and Meretz’s joint no-confidence motion titled ‘Netanyahu government housing projects defaulting, young couples’ abandonment, destruction of public housing and cruelty towards the homeless’ was defeated 32-51 with 37 MKs not present.

* Hadash, Ra’am-Ta’al and Balad’s joint no-confidence motion titled ‘The acute housing shortage in Arab society and freezing of the master plans’ was defeated 23-52 with 45 MKs not present.

* Industry and Trade Minister Simhon (Independence) announced the government’s request to transfer certain authorities from their current ministries to other ministries. Two MKs gave speeches on their positions, and the request was approved 23-0.

* Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Ayalon (Y.B.) answered two queries at the end of the session.

Bills Summary

Amendment to the Vehicle Operation Bill

Energy and Water Minister Landau (Y.B.) explained his amendment would increase the number of safety inspections in gas stations for each type of fuel tests.

MK Eichler (U.T.J.) blasted claims that the housing minister is only providing housing for the ultra-orthodox community. He said that this is a democratic country and there should be no “us” and “them”. He stressed we are one country. He said providing for big families is more important than for smaller families and it has nothing to do with religion. He slammed the press for incitement against the ultra-orthodox.

MK Ben Ari (N.U.) said he wants real equality. He said it is unfair that for the first time less than 50% of 18-year old Tel Aviv residents were drafted to the army. He said certain high schools prohibit soldiers from giving classes in their schools. He noted 70% of Judea and Samaria residents serve in the army. He said he is looking for equality and not hypocrisy.

MK Eldad (N.U.) praised the government’s decision to test the gas stations’ fuel more than six times a year. He asked why Landau listed all 1,083 Israeli gas stations as meeting the government standards and then decided to increase the frequency of the tests rather than change the standards.

The bill passed its first reading 22-0 and was sent to the Finance Committee.

Amendment to the Courts Bill

Homefront Defense Minister Vilnai (Independence) announced the amendment would increase the number of retired judges who are allowed to hear certain cases in all of the lower and middle level courts. He explained retired judges who are older than 75 will be prohibited from participating in the program.

MK Eichler continued his speech attacking the mainstream media for inciting against ultra-orthodox Jews. He accused the capitalist government of being taken over by business tycoons. He said it not acceptable to say, “just because I don’t have a house, no one should have a house.”

MK Ben Ari praised Education Minister Sa’ar (Likud) for bringing school children to Hebron but warned him that extreme leftist activists from ‘Breaking the Silence’ are providing tours for them. He told Sa’ar to solve the problem swiftly. He said that it is better not to take kids to Hebron if this is the education they are receiving.

The bill passed its first reading 19-0 and was sent to the Justice Committee.

Amendment to the Military Justice Bill

Homefront Defense Minister Vilnai explained the amendment would match military court plea bargains to civil court plea bargains in most cases.

MK Ben Ari called Meretz a racist party because they keep calling other parties racist. He said that by asking for a committee discussion on Arabs moving to Safed he would be called a racist but when Meretz asks for a committee discussion on Jews moving into Nazareth-Illit that is not called racist. He said Jews are allowed to live in mixed cities like Lod, Ramla, Jaffa and Nazareth-Illit. He told Meretz that they are disappearing like phonebooks and it is the religious Jews who are winning the Jewish demographic battle.

MK Eldad said he is against plea bargains in the military or in civil courts. He said plea bargains mean that a criminal doesn’t receive the punishment they deserve according to the law. He slammed Jordan for intervening in internal Palestinian matters and Israeli security issues.

MK Zeev (Shas) said he feels plea bargains are a good thing and he supports the bill. He slammed the State Comptroller for blaming Interior Minister Yishai (Shas) for the Carmel fire and accused the Comptroller of leaking information from the report and inciting against Yishai for political reasons.

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

Amendment to the Sexual Harassment Prevention Bill

Women’s Rights Committee Chairwoman Hotovely (Likud) explained the amendment would allow a woman to file a complaint seven years after the fact instead of three years. She said this way a woman who is under a man’s spell would have seven years after the harassment to complain.

The bill passed its second reading 13-0.

The bill passed its third reading 8-0.

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This was the Knesset Jeremy English translation protocol of the Knesset’s January 30, 2012, session.

Official protocol in Hebrew: http://www.knesset.gov.il/plenum/data/00661412.doc

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