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.
* 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.
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.
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