Archive for March, 2012


Dialoge’s telephone poll was ordered by Channel 10 conducted and broadcast on 28 March 2012, following the Kadima primary results.

If elections were held today who would you vote for?

120 Current Knesset seats in [brackets]

32 [27] Likud
15 [28] Kadima led by Mofaz
15 [08] Labor
14 [15] Yisrael Beitenu
09 [---] Yair Lapid Party
09 [11] Shas
05 [05] Yahadut Hatorah/UTJ
05 [07] National Union and Jewish Home
05 [03] Meretz
11 [11] Hadash, Ra’am-Ta’al and Balad
00 [05] Independence

National Camp 65

Dahaf’s telephone poll was ordered by newspaper Yediot Ahronot and conducted on Wednesday evening 28 March 2012, following the Kadima primary results.

If elections were held today who would you vote for?

120 Current Knesset seats in [brackets]

29 [27] Likud
18 [08] Labor
13 [15] Yisrael Beitenu
12 [---] Yair Lapid Party
12 [28] Kadima led by Mofaz
08 [11] Shas
06 [05] Yahadut Hatorah/UTJ
04 [04] National Union
03 [03] Meretz
02 [03] Jewish Home
02 [---]Arieh Deri
11 [11] Hadash, Ra’am-Ta’al and Balad
00 [05] Independence

National Camp 62

The Knesset’s Monday session lasted exactly eight hours, ending atmidnight. 20 bills were discussed. Nine bills became law after passing their third readings, nine were advanced after passing their first readings, and two were advanced after passing their preliminary readings. The Knesset’s last chance to topple Netanyahu’s government before spring break was unsuccessful, ensuring the survival of the government until July 30 at the earliest. Among the interesting bills that became law were ones placing restrictions on the modeling industry as well as increasing sanctions in messy divorce cases. Among the interesting bills advanced were two dealing with civil and national service.

 

Non-Bills Summary

  • Kadima’s no-confidence motion titled ‘The Netanyahu government’s tax hurts the middle class and continues to raise the price of fuel and electricity’ was defeated 34-48 with 38 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 32-49 with 39 MKs not present.
  • Hadash, Ra’am-Ta’al and Balad’s joint no-confidence motion titled ‘The rise in electricity and fuel prices along with the neglect of the universities and colleges’ was defeated 27-48 with 45 MKs not present.
  • MK Adatto (Kadima) announced the Labor, Welfare and Health Committee’s request to correct a technical flaw in a bill. It was approved 7-0.
  • Finance Committee Chairman Shama (Likud) announced his committee’s request to correct a technical flaw in a bill. It was approved 10-0.
  • Transportation Minister Katz (Likud) answered 10 queries at the end of the session.

Bills Summary

Amendment to the Income Bill

Labor, Welfare and Health Committee Chairman Katz (Likud) explained the amendment will keep women who leave battered shelters on welfare for a month after they leave. He called on the Knesset to oppose the government objection.

Deputy Finance Minister Cohen (Shas) said the government objection would limit the way the welfare is distributed.

The bill’s paragraphs passed its second readings 56-0, 60-0 and 59-0.

The government objection was accepted 32-25, although Chairman Katz and Speaker Rivlin voted against it.

The bill passed its third reading 60-0.

MK Gal-On (Meretz) thanked the Knesset for approving her bill and slammed the government for its objection that watered it down.

Amendment to the Sport Driving Bill

Education, Culture and Sport Committee Chairman Miller (Y.B.) explained the amendment would transfer the responsibility of the bill to the Culture and Sport Minister.

The bill passed its second reading 34-0.

The bill passed its third reading 36-0.

Amendment to the Magen David Adom Bill

Labor, Welfare and Health Committee Chairman Katz explained the amendment would authorize Magen David Adom to be allowed to charge money for a service even if there is no ambulance ride. He asked the Knesset not to approve the government’s objection.

Deputy Finance Minister Cohen explained the government objection would take away the power of Katz’s committee on the implementation of the bill and keep it within Cohen’s ministry.

The bill’s paragraphs passed its second readings 38-0 with one MK abstaining, 42-1 and 37-1.

The government’s objection was accepted 26-12.

The bill passed its third reading 38-1.

Amendment to the Environmental Protection Bill

Interior and Environment Committee Chairman Cohen (Shas) explained the amendment would require that the reports, requirements and documentation of factories’ pollution emissions into the environment be available on the ministry website. He said this would bring transparency to how each factory is harming the environment. He suggested that the transparency will lead to factories cleaning up their act.

MK Khenin (Hadash) thanked the government and coalition for supporting his bill and his initiative.

The bill passed its second reading 33-0.

The bill passed its third reading 32-0.

Environment Minister Erdan (Likud) thanked the Knesset for approving the bill and for bringing environmental justice to an OECD nation.

Amendment to the Income Tax Ordinance Bill

Coalition Chairman Elkin (Likud) explained the amendment would give tax breaks to public institutions and non-profits that encourage operation in the settlements. He said that the country isn’t encouraging settlements so it is important to give a pat on the back to the people who are encouraging settlement in Israel. He rejected claims that Judea and Samaria residents will benefit from this bill and stressed that this bill is meant to help the Galil and Negev. He said it is very sad that there are MKs who have decided to oppose the bill because there is the shadow of a doubt that settlers in Judea and Samaria might benefit.

MK Molla (Kadima) said that Elkin’s tricks are known to the public. He said the Negev and Galil have nothing to do with this bill and this bill has Judea and Samaria written all over it. He said he was surprised that Funds Chairman Gafni was suckered into this bill and that Elkin pulled one over on him. He slammed the Independence Party for supporting this bill and the settlement in Judea and Samaria. He said that Israel will eventually leave Judea and Samaria so there is no reason to waste billions of shekels there.

MK Avital (Kadima) asked why the word “Zionist” was removed from the settlement bill and suggested that it isn’t a kosher bill. He said this bill cannot be supported if it is not clear who will benefit from this bill and who will not.

MK Schneller (Kadima) praised the bill and slammed his Kadima friends. He said someone who votes against this bill is voting against the Zionist enterprise. He asked why Judea and Samaria residents are not allowed to receive education or funding for other necessary items. He asked why a Zionist party would vote against Negev and Galil, because it might help Judea and Samaria too. He told Kadima they are running away from Zionism and the rest of the country. He said it is an embarrassment to try and politicize Zionism.

MK Khenin said the bill is dangerous and problematic. He charged this is a political bill that goes against international law, The Hague’s decisions, and the fourth Geneva Convention since it encourages settlements across the 1967 borders. He said that Zionism has no place in Israeli law or within the Israeli state.

MK Agbaria (Hadash) slammed Israel for the 500 Arab villages that were destroyed in the 1948 war and replaced with Jewish settlements. He slammed Israel for stealing land from the Bedouins today in order to build more Jewish homes. He said this summer will lead to another social justice movement that will protest the money being poured into Jewish settlements. He told the government to stop lying and just tell the truth already.

MK Zahalka (Balad) said that Elkin has brought Israel to the lowest moral point ever with this bill and it shows that he isn’t embarrassed of anything. He asked how Elkin can fine human right’s non-profits with one bill and give incentives to those who break international law in a different bill. He said that not only is Judea and Samaria Arab land, but the Negev and Galil are also Arab land that should not be given to Jewish hands.

MK Ben Ari (N.U.) blasted MK Avital, telling the former head of the elite Matkal unit that he has lost his mind. He said that Zionism is Israel and Israel is Zionism. He slammed the Arab MKs for saying that Lod, Nazarith and Be’er Sheva are illegal Jewish settlements. He said Zionism is not a bad word and should be supported by the Jewish MKs. He slammed Jews for telling the army to go to hell.

MK Shnaan (Independence) said that he supports the bill because Zionism was taken out of the bill and non-Jewish settlements will receive the same benefits as Jewish ones.

MK Elkin said that Kadima’s position means that no bill should include a connection to Judea and Samaria. He told Kadima they should be ashamed of themselves.

Diaspora Affairs Minister Edelstein (Likud) stressed that anyone who read the bill knows that Judea and Samaria isn’t part of the bill. He said he doesn’t understand how a bunch of MKs came up and gave speeches that have nothing to do with the bill.

The bill passed its first reading 34-14 and was sent to the Funds Committee.

MK Avital gave a war story from the 1982 war. He said the question of the definition of Zionism is the most important political issue on the table. He said he is more Zionistic than Ben Ari and Ben Ari should shut up.

Civil Service Bill

Science and Technology Minister Hershkowitz (J.H.) explained the original bill will define how the civil service and national service operate. He said national service has been around since the 1970s when the national religious girls started giving back to their community and, after several expansions, has grown to more than 15,000 volunteers. He said the Supreme Court instructed the government to regulate civil service in legislation and that is what this bill accomplishes. He said this bill doesn’t really change anything because it finalizes the status quo of civil service in law. He rejected claims that civil or national service should be mandatory and warned this would lower the number of volunteers. He thanked the civil service members for giving to their communities even though they are not required to by law.

MK Eichler (U.T.J.) asked who is a citizen. He went on to slam the theory that those who don’t serve in the military or civil service should not be entitled to citizens’ rights. He called Yisrael Beitenu a racist party against Arabs and religious Jews. He said that ultra-orthodox Jews who have ten children are also performing civil service and are doing a great service to their country. He asked why ultra-orthodox volunteer institutions like Yad Sarah or Zaka or Hatzala are not part of civil service.

MK Zahalka said that the bill talks about volunteers and not a mandatory service; however, it places sanctions on people who don’t volunteer, which turns the service into a mandatory one. He said that his Arab youth cannot be a part of this Jewish strategy and won’t be a part of this Zionist education. He said this is an attempt to take away citizenship rights.

MK Zoabi (Balad) said the Arabs look at this bill as a political ideology bill that goes against democratic principles of citizenship. She said this bill is not legitimate and it is injustice. She said that the inequality of requiring a citizen to do something to earn citizenship is unspeakable. She said that whoever gives her rights won’t get gratitude from her. She said her citizenship isn’t a present and she won’t thank the country for not throwing out her family in 1948.

MK Ben Ari explained how he educates his eight children about their rights and duties. He told Zoabi that every citizen has rights and duties, something that exists in every normal country. He said equality means paying income tax and VAT, something the Arabs don’t feel like doing. He said affirmative action is failing this country. He said he will oppose the bill because they are calling national service civil service in order not to offend those who reject the state.

MK Herzog (Labor) said many Arabs and Jews want to serve in the civil service but there isn’t room for them. He called on Hershkowitz to find more room and expand the civil service to include them.

MK Agbaria said that sharing the burden isn’t just about the military; it is about health, education and other things too. He said civil service isn’t just for Arabs. He charged the government is trying to make the Arabs servants. He said certain Arabs have decided they are Arab until the age of 18, are Israeli from 18-19 during the civil service and are Arab again from 19 on.

MK Sarsur (R.T.) said that Arabs like volunteering, but this bill doesn’t create a volunteering society. He said that if the civil service is distributed to benefit the Arab municipalities then they can get behind it rather than deciding Arabs will go and help Jews in Jewish municipalities. He said the Arab and Druze people are the ones who need the benefit of a civil service, not the Jewish people.

MK Ganaim (R.T.) said that the Arabs built this country and led the construction efforts until today. He charged that the Arabs don’t trust the Jews and don’t feel that they are equal, which is why they do not want to serve in the civil service. He said as long as civil service is somehow connected to the military, the Arab country will reject it as it rejects the military.

MK Tibi (R.T.) said a volunteering bill is an oxymoron. You can’t force a person to volunteer and that is why this bill will fail. He said there are Arabs who want to volunteer but they don’t trust the system or the government. He charged the Arabs who do civil service do so because of financial reasons and they later regret it.

MK Yoel Hasson (Kadima) said that equality is important, but it is a two-way street. He said that duties and rights go hand and hand. He said he wants equal opportunity for Arabs in infrastructure and education too, but it needs to also be in community service. He said that this bill is running away from the problem that everyone needs to be part of the burden. He called on the Arabs and ultra-orthodox Jews to serve in the civil service and give back to the country.

MK Zeev (Shas) said the bill simply defines what the civilian service is and what it means. He said this bill isn’t forcing anyone to do anything and they should read the bill before opposing it.

MK El-Sana (R.T.) said civil service is not volunteering. He said there is no equality since the Arabs have the highest unemployment and no opportunities. He said this bill isn’t good for the Muslims, so he won’t support it.

Science and Technology Minister Hershkowitz said he doesn’t believe his ears. He said this bill doesn’t change who serves and who doesn’t serve. He said 13,000 of the 15,000 who participate in civil service are national religious girls. He asked why the Arabs are up in arms against this bill since it doesn’t really apply to them. He said there is no mandatory aspect to this bill, and it is not meant to deal with the problems of inequality in society. He said both Jews and Arabs receive support from the national service girls who work in hospitals. He said this bill has nothing to do with the military since it is the Science and Technology Minister who is presenting it. He said providing them with free transportation to and from volunteering has nothing to do with basic citizen rights. He said this bill doesn’t give any citizen rights to those who serve and told the Arab MKs that they should have read the bill.

The bill passed its first reading 18-12 and was sent to the House Committee to determine which committee will discuss the bill.

Right for National Service Bill

MK Orlev (J.H.) took credit for Hershkowitz’s bill that he said he wrote back in 2004 when he was a minister. He said this bill would eliminate the budget restraints on the national service and allow whoever wants to serve in the national service to do so. He said the bill would force the national service to find a place for every volunteer.

MK Zahalka opposed the bill. He said this bill splits the citizens into two groups, those who served the country and those who did not serve the country. He said the two different packages of rights for the two groups are unfair and discriminatory. He said the Supreme Court is being changed to lean more to the right, and these new laws might be allowed to stand.

The bill passed its first reading 16-6 and was sent to the House Committee to determine which committee will discuss the bill.

Pawning Bill

Transportation Minister Katz (Likud) explained the bill will increase the competition among the credit card companies as well as regulate the insurance and interest policies on credit.

MK Eichler eulogized the massacre of the Jews in France. He spoke about his latest visit to France, where the Jews live behind iron gates and live with anti-Semitism. He talked about the media bias in France, which is pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel. He slammed the E.U. Foreign Minister for her words, which he said were anti-Semitic. He said the delegitimacy of the Jews and Israel in the press leads to these types of massacres.

MK Ben Ari said that every day rockets hit the south and yet the Israeli press tells us that it is silent down there. He said the 70% success of the iron dome project is not acceptable and stressed it must be higher. He said that as a customer of the defense establishment he demands 100% security, not 70% security. He said there are a weak defense system and a weak government in place.

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

Amendment to the Military Cemeteries Bill

Transportation Minister Katz explained the amendment would give policemen, prison guards, Mossad agents, Shabak agents and other defense establishment personal the same rights that the military provides their own according to the bill.

The bill passed its first reading 14-0 and was sent to the House Committee to determine which committee will discuss the bill.

 

Amendment to the Placing Resuscitation Devices in Public Places Bill

Transportation Minister Katz explained the amendment would give the Industry and Trade Minister additional authority to implement this bill according to how he sees fit.

MK Zeev said this was a very good bill and he supports it fully.

The bill passed its first reading 16-0 and was sent to the Health Committee.

Amendment to the Telecommunications and Broadcasting Bill

Transportation Minister Katz explained the amendment would increase the financial sanctions on companies that violate the bill.

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

Environmental Solution for Electrical Items, Electronic Equipment and Batteries Bill

Environment Minister Erdan explained the bill would come up with an environmental solution for dealing with electronic waste. He said that every year there is 85,000 tons of electronic waste and this bill will lower that by implementing government programs such as recycling or requiring electronic suppliers to take back old appliances when new ones are bought.

MK Zeev said it is an important bill and he supports it. He said that he is worried that gangs will start buying into the electronic waste programs and make money off melting the materials down.

MK Khenin said the health and environment concerns of electronic waste are worrisome and this is a great way to solve the situation. He said that although it is less than 1% of all waste, it is 70% of the dangerous type of waste.

MK Ben Ari asked why the price tag Jewish terrorists are in the headlines, but when an Ashkelon man is killed by an Arab there is not one headline. He went on to list other murders of Jews at the hands of Arabs and slammed those who choose to keep nationalistic crimes quiet. He said equality means equality in everything. He said that although a soldier was stabbed by an Arab in the light rail of Jerusalem, it wasn’t called nationalistic. He discussed a long list of similar crimes.

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

Temporary Amendment Restricting the Use and Registration of Used Car Parts and Actions Bill

Transportation Minister Katz explained the amendment would result in theft prevention by increasing supervision in Israeli garages. He said it is increasingly difficult for Arabs to sell off parts of a car to Israeli garages with a drop of 37% in past years, and this bill will make it even more difficult. He said the amendment will go from a temporary to a permanent amendment as well.

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

Amendment to the Payment to Former Captives Bill

Coalition Chairman Elkin announced the amendment would raise the welfare payment for former captives over the age of 80 by 25%. He said 1,350 of the 1,700 former captives are over the age of 80 and will benefit from this bill.

The bill passed its second reading 11-0.

The bill passed its third reading 11-0.

MK Yoel Hasson thanked the Knesset for approving his bill and for helping the small and decreasing number of former captives. He said this bill, which was fast tracked in two weeks, will lead to an increase in welfare starting Passover eve.

Amendment to the Municipal Taxes and Government Taxes Ordinance Bill

MK Gilon (Meretz) explained the amendment would grant municipal tax exemptions to protected factories that employ the mentally challenged. He said this bill will assist these protected factories, which are in danger of closing. He thanked Noga Goldfinger for helping him with his bill.

The bill passed its second reading 8-0.
The bill passed its third reading 8-0.

Weight Restriction in the Modeling Industry Bill

MK Adatto (Kadima) explained the bill is meant to restrict hiring models under a certain BMI as well as photoshopping without including a note that a photo is not natural. She said that this would help fight eating disorders since little girls would not look at skinny as attractive. She said this bill will become law on January 1, 2013. She thanked her co-sponsor, MK Maklev (U.T.J.), for helping her throughout this process. She said that anorexia affects 1,500 victims in Israel every year and many unfortunately end up as fatalities. She went on to thank a long list of people who helped as well as the media that helped advance this bill.

The bill passed its second reading 10-0.

The bill passed its third reading 10-0.

Amendment to the Penal Code Bill

MK Adatto explained her amendment would increase the punishment for assaulting a social worker. She said that she received special permission to bring up this bill and merge it in committee with a similar bill.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 7-0 and was sent to the Justice Committee.

Amendment to the Rabbinical Courts Bill

MK Herzog explained the amendment would change the time table on holding judgments on the law of divorce in order to reduce the waiting period between court dates at the Rabbinate. He added that the bill also increases the sanctions the Rabbinate can place on someone who doesn’t agree to the court ordered divorce.

MK Orlev said that he hopes his bill will require the courts to use more sanctions and that he had hoped for a stronger, far-reaching bill. He slammed the government for splitting some of his bill off but called on the Knesset to approve the bill anyway.

MK Schneller told a story of how this bill has already convinced a man to agree to give in and divorce his wife. He thanked Israeli Chief Rabbi Amar for agreeing to support this bill and suggested the Supreme Court would never agree to allow the Knesset’s restrictions on them. He thanked a long list of Rabbis for being helpful with the bill. He also thanked his assistant Jonathon Javor.

The bill passed its second reading 11-1.

The bill passed its third reading 9-1.

Deputy Speaker Maklev did not give a reason for his objection to the bill.

Amendment to the Civil Defense Bill

MK Levi-Abekasis (Y.B.) explained the amendment would establish a wireless internet network connection in bomb shelters of border municipalities. She said that the youth who wait in bomb shelters during rocket attacks are in distress and bored. She suggested that an internet connection will help the youth pass the time and will make their stay there more comfortable. She said this way people can also listen to radio, watch television and keep informed in other methods through the internet.

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

Amendment to the Telecommunications and Broadcasting Bill

Women’s Rights Committee Chairwoman Hotovely (Likud) explained the amendment would allow people to call emergency abuse help centers and have that information wiped from telephone records, as well as make sure those calls are free. She said that women and children who are sexually or physically abused should be protected from the abusive person who could find out about the calls.

The bill passed its second reading 6-0.

The bill passed its third reading 3-0.

Deputy Speaker Levi-Abekasis thanked the Knesset for approving her bill and thanked Bezeq for agreeing not to charge for calls made to these emergency call centers.

________________________________________________________________

This was the Knesset Jeremy English translation protocol of the Knesset’sMarch 19, 2012, session.

Official protocol in Hebrew: http://www.knesset.gov.il/plenum/data/01624512.doc

Quick Update

As my loyal readers know, the Knesset started its Spring Break on Thursday and will not be working for 39 days.

Right now, my updates are three days behind. I finished Day 60 and will put it up when my proof-reader sends it back to me. I will work on Day 61 and Day 62 this week and will get them up when they are done. After I catch up, I will focus on the polls that come out during the recess.

The Knesset’s Wednesday session lasted about eight and a half hours. 15 bills were discussed. Eight bills were advanced after passing their preliminary readings, two votes were postponed in order to avoid the bills’ defeat, and five bills were defeated. As usual the 40-MK discussion included fiery speeches without much substance from either side. This was the last day the Knesset would be discussing preliminary bills before the 39-day spring break, which led to a longer than usual legislative discussion. Speaker Rivlin decided that the Knesset would spend their last week of the winter session dealing only with bills in their first, second and third readings. Some MKs started hinting to their plans for the spring break, which started after they finished their session on Wednesday, March 21, and ends when they go back on Monday, April 30. Two of the bills advanced would regulate currently unregulated alcohol and establish a Bible Hall in Jerusalem.

 

Non-Bills Summary

  • Homefront Security Minister Vilnai (Independence), Housing and Construction Minister Atias (Shas) and Deputy Finance Minister Cohen (Shas) answered urgent queries at the beginning of the session.
  • House Committee Chairman Levin (Likud) announced which disputed bills would be discussed in which committees.
  • Speaker Rivlin gave a warm speech greeting Georgia’s Speaker, who is visiting Israel.
  • The monthly Knesset discussion with the presence of the Prime Minister by request of 40 MKs’ signatures was conducted on the topic of “The Netanyahu government’s failure in the diplomatic, economic and social sectors”. 17 MKs gave speeches before Prime Minister Netanyahu’s response and Opposition Leader Livni’s rebuttal. Netanyahu’s response was accepted by the Knesset 36-30.
  • Five motions were discussed on a wide variety of topics. Four of them were sent to committee by the votes 5-0, 4-3, 4-0 and 3-0. One motion was not voted on.
  • Education Minister Sa’ar (Likud) and Justice Minister Neeman answered queries at the end of the session.

Bills Summary

Amendment to the Law and Administration Ordinance Bill

MK Levin (Likud) explained the amendment would allow the Knesset to approve technical changes to laws without needing to pass through three readings.

Justice Minister Neeman expressed government support the bill.

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

Amendment to the Violence Prevention Bill

MK Haim Katz (Likud) explained the amendment would increase the punishment for assaulting a member of the social services and revoke the assailant’s social service benefits. He went on to argue with Speaker Rivlin over the terms of the Knesset cafeteria’s employees.

Communications Minister Kahlon (Likud) expressed government support for the bill. He said that this will let social workers know the country has their back.

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

Amendment to the Soldiers and their Families Benefits Bill

MK Matalon (Y.B.) explained his amendment would include benefits to those who were not hurt in the line of duty, eliminating the condition that the occurrence of the injury must be during the first fourteen days of their vacation. He said that the army has a responsibility to its soldiers as long as they are enlisted even if they are on extended vacation.

Housing and Construction Minister Atias (Shas) expressed government support for the bill and said the budget impact is minimal.

MK Eldad (N.U.) expressed his objection to the bill. He said that soldiers on vacation shouldn’t receive the same benefits as soldiers who are injured or killed in the line of duty. He suggested having an insurance package for soldiers who die or are injured on vacation. He stressed soldiers in the line of duty deserve more.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 22-0 and was sent to the Welfare Committee.

Amendment to the Income Tax Ordinance Bill

MK Kirshenbaum (Y.B.) explained her amendment would exempt the tax on a one-time withdrawal of financial rewards deposited for a period of at least ten years in a provident fund (Kupat Gemel).

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

The bill passed its preliminary reading 26-0 and was sent to the House Committee to determine which committee will discuss the bill further.

Struggle on the Phenomenon of Counterfeit Alcohol Bill

MK Kirshenbaum said 30% of alcoholic products on the market are counterfeit products without oversight or government regulation. She said these counterfeit alcohol issues are hospitalizing children because they are dangerous and made in people’s basements.

Industry and Trade Minister Simhon (Independence) expressed government support for the bill. He tried to give his response without getting into it with MK Bar-On (Kadima) who was heckling him and the bill.

MK Yachimovich (Labor) objected to the bill and charged that this was a private interest bill. She said an alcohol supplier is behind this bill and a 14-year prison sentence for this bill is ludicrous.

MK Kirshenbaum asked if we should accept the products of those who wish to poison our children. She rejected claims that a private interest was behind her bill. She was heckled and mocked by the opposition MKs.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 25-9 and was sent to the House Committee to determine which committee will discuss the bill further.

International Treaties Bill

MK Eldad explained his original bill would require that all international treaties be sent to the Knesset for approval before being signed. He stated the checks and balances among the branches of government are required in such matters. He said that he is the only MK who reads international treaties before the government signs them and has over the years saved Israel from losing its status as a Jewish and democratic state. He said that the Knesset must be more involved in the process of discussing and approving international treaties. He slammed Foreign Minister Liberman (Y.B.) for opposing the bill and decided to pull his bill for the time being in order to enlist more government support.

Amendment to the Reduction of the Cooling-Off Period for Senior Defense Establishment Bill

MK Herzog (Labor) explained the amendment would repeal the three year cooling off period between serving at the highest levels of the defense establishment and entering political life and Knesset. He said that all army and police generals and heads of the Shabak and Mossad are included in this three year cooling off period. He said that this bill is meant to keep people like Gabi Ashkenazi out of the Knesset. He charged this bill is aimed at certain people and excludes others like a State Comptroller, Bank Governor or Director of the Prime Minister’s Office. He said that he would agree to a shorter cooling off period of a year or so. He slammed MK Regev, who served as the army spokeswoman and was a Lieutenant General and who was supporting the bill and heckling him.

Diaspora Affairs Minister Edelstein (Likud) expressed government opposition to the bill. He said after serving your country for 20-30 years it is a good idea to spend a few years with your family before joining the political fray, which can be even more demanding. He said that a soldier should not spend his last days in the army deciding which party he wants to join, which can also affect Israel’s national security. He slammed the opposition for being irresponsible and proposing personal bills. He called for keeping security leaders separate from politics.

MK Herzog said Edelstein’s response was embarrassing. He asked why other groups only have a 100-day cooling off period but these people get three years. He said the playing field for everyone who wants to become a politician must be leveled.

The bill was defeated 13-32.

MK Regev (Likud) slammed Herzog for trying to create a banana republic and trying to convince generals to support the politicians they wish to join after they are released. She blasted Herzog for not passing one soldier- or veteran-friendly bill and then suddenly supporting them for personal reasons. She said his bill was not just.

Amendment to the Penal Code Bill

MK Shai (Kadima) said Israeli society is in trouble because the exclusion of women from society is increasing, and the Knesset must prevent it. He slammed separate health clinics, eulogy areas in cemeteries, sidewalks, private businesses, public events and singing. He said Israel is a free society, and no one can place limitations on women. He said that before 1997 these things didn’t exist. He said ultra-orthodox Jews in Bet Shemesh told him they are against the extremist elements in their midst. He explained the amendment would require a prison sentence of three years for the exclusion of women or for encouraging the occurrence.

Justice Minister Neeman expressed government opposition to the bill on the grounds that creating a new offense in the Penal Code won’t solve the exclusion of women issue. He said the solution should be elsewhere and not part of legislation. He said the attempt to make everything illegal will make the law even more difficult to enforce.

MK Shai responded in terms of the exclusion of women from Israeli society there is no room for mercy and should be dealt with swift justice. He charged the government has chosen not to fight for this issue.

The bill was defeated 19-27-1.

Amendment to the Food Bill

MK Whbee (Kadima) explained his amendment would change the welfare guarantee of payment system, so that a single parent can work for minimum wage and still be allowed to receive welfare payments. He said these women should be allowed to work for up to NIS 4,100 a month to help supplement the welfare they are entitled to. He said the current system of taking away welfare from single parents who make the decision to work is unacceptable.

Justice Minister Neeman expressed government opposition to the bill on the grounds that a single parent is allowed to work and receive wages for up to NIS 600 a month and still receive welfare payments. He said this bill will help only a handful of single mothers since widows and other groups are exempt under Whbee’s bill. He said the government is considering raising the “disregard” payment a person on welfare may earn, and the government should be given time to finish those considerations. He said NIS 100 million have been allocated to make a plan that will solve the situation.

MK Whbee asked why the government is spending NIS 100 million to seek a bureaucratic solution later when he is offering them a solution now.

Justice Minister Neeman responded that he is willing to turn the bill into a motion and discuss the issue in committee. Whbee rejected Neeman’s offer.

The bill was defeated 17-29.

Amendment to the Housing Loans Bill

MK Molla (Kadima) slammed the Immigration and Absorption Minister for running away instead of answering his bill. He said his amendment would create a committee to help new immigrants with their housing loans. He said new immigrants have no idea what the rules are in Israel, and their Hebrew is terrible. He said the country needs to find people who will make these life decisions easier for the new immigrants, so they understand what they are doing.

Housing and Construction Minister Atias said it is a great bill but will make the government liable for law suits if a new immigrant misunderstands the committee’s suggestions and gets into money trouble. He suggested changing the language of the bill so that it is a consumer protection issue. He offered Molla an opportunity to vote on the bill at a different time to give the government time to change its mind. Molla agreed.

Two Amendments to the Public Housing Bill

MK Bar-On (Kadima) explained his amendment would reform purchase rights in Israel. He stated it would establish a national authority for public housing. He said the social justice protests and the Israeli housing crisis are forcing the government to take a stand and improve the public housing system. He said that the authority was supposed to be implemented 13 years ago, and each government decides to push off the implementation longer and longer. He called on the government to deal with high rental prices and the resale of second and third hand apartments too.

MK Khenin (Hadash) said that Israel doesn’t build public housing and that leads to a situation where those who are eligible for public housing can’t receive it. He said the current system of private people fulfilling the responsibility of the government is not acceptable.

Housing and Construction Minister Atias said that over the last twenty years the public housing system has slowly been dying. He said that there used to be over 100,000 public housing units, but the Labor Party decision in 1999 to stop building them and to start selling the units to those who lived in them led to a drop to fewer than 70,000 units when he took the ministry’s lead job. He said that he was the first minister in decades to invest funding and put NIS 240 million into building more public housing. He said that he agrees with this bill, but the Finance Ministry doesn’t want to fund it, and therefore the government is against both bills.

MK Bar-On praised Atias’s integrity for supporting the bill even though he is the government’s messenger killing it. He said that Atias is looking for surgical solutions instead of looking at the biggest pictures. He called on Atias to build more floors in existing public apartment buildings.

The bills were defeated 21-38 and 22-37.

Bible Hall in Jerusalem Bill

MK Bar-On explained his original bill would create a Bible Hall in Jerusalem that would help Israel’s tourism, culture, education, religion and public relations. He quoted Prime Minister Netanyahu, who at one point called for a Bible Hall in Jerusalem and asked the government to support Netanyahu’s request.

Diaspora Affairs Minister Edelstein expressed government support for the bill.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 21-0 with one MK abstaining and was sent to the Culture Committee.

Amendment to the Standard Contracts Bill

MK Hermesh (Kadima) explained his amendment would fix certain issues in the standard contracts bill so that negative money can be included in cases where it was not possible previously.

Justice Minister Neeman expressed government support for the bill and stressed it wouldn’t change existing contracts.

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

Amendment to the Lending Textbooks Bill

MK Tirosh (Kadima) explained her amendment would require a program of loaning textbooks in schools so that each year the school children give the textbooks back for the following year’s kids to study with them. She went on to praise Sa’ar for his amazing work with the ultra-orthodox.

Education Minister Sa’ar (Likud) expressed government support for the bill as long as 60% of the classes’ parents decide they are interested in participating in the program.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 14-0 and was sent to the Education Committee.

________________________________________________________________

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

Official protocol in Hebrew: http://www.knesset.gov.il/plenum/data/01548112.doc

Dahaf poll ordered by Yediot Ahronot conducted by telephone on Wednesday evening 21 March 2012 among a sample of 502 respondents with a maximum sampling error of 4.5%.

Poll #1

If elections were held today who would you vote for?

Current Knesset seats in [brackets]

29 [27] Likud
14 [15] Yisrael Beitenu
14 [---] Yair Lapid Party
13 [08] Labor
12 [28] Kadima led by Mofaz
08 [11] Shas
06 [05] Yahadut Hatorah/UTJ
05 [03] Meretz
03 [04] National Union
03 [03] Jewish Home
11 [11] Hadash, Ra’am-Ta’al and Balad
00 [05] Independence

Poll #2

29 [27] Likud
15 [28] Kadima led by Livni
13 [08] Labor
13 [---] Yair Lapid Party
12 [15] Yisrael Beitenu
09 [11] Shas
06 [05] Yahadut Hatorah/UTJ
04 [03] Meretz
03 [04] National Union
03 [03] Jewish Home
11 [11] Hadash, Ra’am-Ta’al and Balad
00 [05] Independence

The Knesset’s Tuesday session lasted about two and a half hours. Eight bills were discussed. One bill became law after passing its third reading, and seven bills were advanced after passing their first readings. The new law expands Druze representation in public service. An interesting bill advanced allows the Israeli Chief Rabbi to run for another term.

 

Non-Bills Summary

* 12 MKs gave speeches during the one minute speech segment that opened the day. National Science Day was recognized by most of the speakers.

* A motion marking National Science Day was discussed by Science and Technology Minister Hershkowitz (J.H.) and three MKs.

* House Committee Chairman Levin (Likud) announced which disputed bills would be discussed in which committees. The Knesset approved the decisions 10-0.

* Deputy Finance Minister Cohen (Shas) answered a query at the end of the session.

Bills Summary

Amendment to the Expanding Druze Community Representation in the Public Service Bill

Justice, Law and Constitution Committee Chairman Rotem (Y.B.) explained the amendment would require expanding the Druze community’s representation in the public sector as well as in municipalities where they make up 10% or more of the population. He said Israelis owe a lot to the Druze and this bill is a way to give back to them.

MK Amar (Y.B.) thanked Rotem for helping him advance his bill that helps his Druze community. He also thanked his party, Yisrael Beitenu, for having his back and the Druze’s back.

MK Levin (Likud) thanked his co-sponsor Amar and Chairman Rotem for pushing through this bill that pays back the country’s dues to the Druze. He said the Druze deserve an identity that is separate from the Arab population.

The bill passed its second reading 9-0.

The bill passed its third reading 9-0.

Amendment to the Handicap Parking Bill

MK Gilon (Meretz) announced that 5,100 parking tickets were given to handicap licensed cars that were following the laws, as opposed to 6,100 parking tickets to violators of handicap parking laws. He said his amendment would prohibit parking tickets for handicapped licensed people who are not in violation of handicap parking laws.

The bill passed its first reading 5-0 and was sent to the Finance Committee.

Amendment to the Penal Code Bill

MK Shai (Kadima) explained the amendment would extend the prohibition of doctors having sex with a patient to therapists and alternative medicine practioners as well. He said it is unacceptable that psychologists, social workers and alternative doctors are allowed to use their position to sleep with patients with no punishment.

MK Ben Ari (N.U.) said that apparently there are no nationalistic crimes or terror in Israel. He accused Homeland Security Minister Aharonovitch (Y.B.) of instructing his officers to coach victims of nationalistic crimes on how to leave out certain parts of their testimony. He gave a few examples. He suggested the motives are that the government doesn’t want to give out the welfare payments nationalistic victims are entitled to but which regular victims do not receive.

MK Levin praised the bill. He said criminologists and polygraph workers should also be regulated, and every occupation should have set boundaries.

The bill passed its first reading 9-0 and was sent to the Justice Committee.

Amendment to the Supervision of Financial Services Bill

Interior and Environment Committee Chairman Cohen (Shas) explained the amendment would lower the percentage of management fees on provident funds from 2% to 1.05%.

MK Ben Ari supported the bill. He went on to say he is an unhappy customer of the security and defense services because there are too many rockets hitting Israel and because of the public relations briefs that are unbearable. He slammed former Prime Minister Olmert for telling the south that they should get used to occasional rockets falling in their backyards like a light shower of rain. He said he is embarrassed the Knesset isn’t protecting the south and isn’t confessing its mistake of supporting the disengagement.

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

Amendment to the Israel Lands Authority Bill

MK Khenin (Hadash) explained the amendment would ensure transparency in the land authority by forcing them to advertise their decisions on their website. He said over the last eight years only 77 of the land authority’s 2,655 decisions were released to the public. He said that the public wants to privatize the authority because it isn’t acting like a public company, which must have transparency. He said when it comes to tax money there must be a trail of what is being done with that money and how those decisions are made. He said this bill will strengthen the idea of a strong central government.

MK Ben Ari blasted the police for prohibiting his visit to Nazareth, where he was planning to protest in front of the Balad offices. He said Nazareth deserves equality- equality in income tax, equality in VAT and equality in police enforcement.

MK Zeev (Shas) supported the bill and transparency. He went on to criticize former minister Ben-Eliezer (Labor), who he said routinely made corrupt decisions as the minister in charge of the land authority and didn’t publish anything.

The bill passed its first reading 6-0 and was sent to the Finance Committee.

Amendment to the Checks without Cover Bill

MK Shemtov (Y.B.) explained the amendment would require the bank to inform customers of all problems on an existing account before they join it. She said there is no reason to give a full history of the bank account but a new person joining an account should know what expenses or penalties he will now be responsible for. She said the bank has an interest not to warn the new customer because they can force him to pay a lot of money if he has no clue what he is walking into.

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

Amendment to the Chief Rabbinate of Israel Bill

MK Pinyan (Likud) explained the amendment would allow a Rabbi to run for re-election as Chief Rabbi of Israel. He said that for political reasons a term limit of ten years was placed on the position of Chief Rabbi of Israel and it is time that term limit is repealed.

MK Zeev recalled the political trick that forced Rabbi Ovadia Yosef out of the Chief Rabbi of Israel chair. He told them that it was that decision 30 years ago that led to Rabbi Yosef creating Shas with him. He suggested that any further attempt by politicians to interfere with Rabbis will lead to an increase in political support for those Rabbis.

The bill passed its first reading 8-0 and was sent to the Justice Committee.

Amendment to the Former Captives’ Payment Bill

Coalition Chairman Elkin (Likud) explained the amendment would increase the pension for former captives over 80 years old by NIS 1,200 a month. He said a few hundred people would benefit from this bill.

MK Eldad (N.U.) said it is a worthy bill, and, as a son of a former captive, he finds it to be a very important ideal to support the captives in the last years of their lives.

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

________________________________________________________________

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

Official protocol in Hebrew: http://www.knesset.gov.il/plenum/data/01506712.doc

The Knesset’s Monday session lasted about five and a half hours. 16 bills were discussed. Seven bills became law after passing their third readings, and nine bills were advanced after passing their first readings. The Jewish opposition parties of Kadima, Labor, National Union and Meretz decided not to bring no-confidence motions in order to support the government during the escalation of rocket attacks on Israeli soil. The 16-bill day was just another sign that this is the second to last week before the spring recess. The Knesset enjoyed an unusually long five day weekend after the previous Wednesday session was cancelled for the Jewish holiday of Purim. The day had some of the most interesting bills of the session. Among the new laws are prohibitions on assisting illegals, preventing women from draft dodging and a one-time NIS 100,000 welfare payment to orphans who lost a parent from a terrorist attack or during the parent’s army service.

 

Non-Bills Summary

* Hadash, Ra’am-Ta’al and Balad’s joint no-confidence motion titled ‘The escalation in South’ was defeated 4-40 with 76 MKs not present.

* House Committee Chairman Levin (Likud) announced MK Tibi (R.T.) will replace MK Itzik (Kadima) in the Finance Committee.

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

* Deputy Finance Minister Cohen (Shas) announced the government’s transfer of certain powers from his ministry to Justice Minister Neeman. The Knesset approved the transfer 11-0.

* Communications Minister Kahlon (Likud) announced the government’s transfer of certain powers from his ministry to Minister Meridor (Likud). The Knesset approved the transfer 14-0.

* Labor and Welfare Minister Kahlon answered six queries at the end of the session.

Bills Summary

Amendment to the Illegal Residence Bill

Interior Committee Chairman Cohen (Shas) explained the current temporary amendment that prohibits assistance to ilegals in terms of hiring, transporting or providing sleeping accommodations for them would become a permanent amendment. He said that certain sections would remain as temporary amendments, mostly in regards to taxi drivers who transport illegals. He called on the Knesset to defeat Hadash’s objections to the bill.

MK Khenin (Hadash) said hard cases make bad law. He said these laws go too far and turn every illegal into a criminal and turn those who help them into criminals. He said that this bill forces taxi drivers to racially profile their passengers. He called the bill absurd and said it gives cab drivers the powers of a policeman or a soldier. He called it a racist bill that makes a cab driver’s job so much harder. He said these were temporary provisions because Israel dreamed of peace but turning these provisions into a permanent law shows that Israel has given up on that dream.

MK Barakeh (Hadash) called the bill crazy. He said that there is a high level of security in Israel and the Palestinians act as their policemen in the territories so there is really no need for this bill. He said the foundation of logic for this law is seriously flawed. He called this bill another Israeli attempt to turn its public into racists and tell the Arabs who is boss. He said there is not one documented case of a terrorist who entered a cab told the driver to start meter and blew himself up.

MK Eldad (N.U.) said there are those who look at Israel as a Jewish safe house and that led to an ideology that we can give away parts of the safe house in order to achieve peace. He said the land for peace didn’t work, so it led to land for demographics. He said those who tell us we must give away land because of the demographic problem and then tell us we must in the name of liberalism and human rights allow illegals to live in our land are hypocrites. He said the true motive of these liberals is to give up on Zionism and Judaism and allow Arabs and Sudanese to raise families here. He called on the liberal politicians to stop holding both sides of the stick and decide if they had to choose between their hatred of the Jewish people and their hatred of the Jewish state which one they would give up on.

MK Ben Ari (N.U.) read a Ma’ariv columnist piece where the columnist went to a joint Israeli Jewish-Arab event. She described her shock as they told her that the Jews stole their land and conquered their nation. Ben Ari said that these Arabs want to destroy us, and there are Jews who cooperate with them. He said the safe house argument is passé, and the next generation is starting to question that motive. He said Zionism doesn’t start from Tel Chai, it started with Abraham in the Torah. He called on the government to raise children in the right way. He said the true answer is that this is our land and no one else’s land.

The bills paragraphs passed their second readings 37-7, 35-7 and 34-8.

The objections were defeated 8-35, 8-35 and 8-33.

The bill passed its third reading 34-8.

Amendment to the Parties Bill

House Committee Chairman Levin (Likud) explained his amendment would require transparency, accounting and limitations on the income and expenditure of politicians before their party’s registration. He thanked MK Schneller for co-sponsoring his bill. He said that fundraising without transparency by using a technical loophole of not registering your party until you have the money is unacceptable. He slammed Yair Lapid for attempting to use these loopholes and said this must be stopped as soon as possible. He blasted Yair Lapid for using his job as a news anchor to lead a political campaign and charged he only resigned because of a different bill that forced him to do so. He asked how someone can campaign across the country without revealing his donors, when every other person or party reveals his. He said the public deserves to know who is sending Lapid to the Knesset and what it is they want him to do. He said everyone should be equal in the political playing field, and this bill will enable that.

MK Molla (Kadima) said that the current electoral system has bigger problems, and this is a minor issue. He said the current system must be changed from its foundation, and this approach of fixing a minor thing is not worth our time. He slammed the ultra-orthodox parties for their exclusion of female representatives.

MK Khenin repeated that hard cases make bad law. He complemented Levin for confessing it is a personal bill aimed at Yair Lapid. He said that although he disagrees with Lapid politically, he is for transparency and thinks that Lapid’s basic rights should be free. He said the real transparency should be regulating or prohibiting the free daily newspaper Yisrael Hayom that is funded by Netanyahu’s friend [Sheldon Adelson]. He expressed his opposition to the bill.

MK Schneller (Kadima) expressed his solidarity with the citizens in the south who are under rocket fire. He said every party has their media tools and singling out the Likud is an issue in the same vain as that laid out in Molla’s speech about needing a bigger reform. He said that Israelis want transparency and are sick of the connection between big money interests and politicians. He added that Israelis want equality and separation of money from politics. He said everyone knows this is a great bill and praised MK Levin for coming up with the idea.

The bill passed its first reading 29-4 and was sent to the House Committee.

Amendment to the Social Security Bill

Justice, Law and Constitution Committee Chairman Rotem (Y.B.) explained the amendment would reduce a citizen’s pension by 50% if they commit a crime with nationalistic motives or have a connection to terrorist activity. He said that he wanted to eliminate the pension completely, but the government decided to agree only to a 50% reduction in order not to punish the family of the terrorist.

MK Barakeh said that this bill is not worthy at all. He said this bill punishes the spouse and children who didn’t do anything or commit any crime. He asked why terrorists’ families are being punished but rapists’ and drug dealers’ families are not. He called Rotem a racist.

MK Zahalka (Balad) said this is a bad bill that contradicts the foundation of law and equality. He said that it is not acceptable to give an additional punishment after the criminal receives the first punishment from the court of law. He said changing the punishment in the middle of serving that punishment is not acceptable. He said Rotem and Yisrael Beitenu are against the Arabs and are trying to use their position to promote and pass their racist laws. He said this collective punishment should be opposed and defeated.

MK Zeev (Shas) recalled the Supreme Court decision that destroying a terrorist’s house is legal and will make terrorists think twice before engaging in such conduct. He said this is just another step in that direction. He reminded Zahalka that the United States has kept prisoners in Guantanamo Bay without trial for a decade, so he should be happy Israel has not gone that far.

The bill passed its first reading 24-5 and was sent to the Welfare Committee.

Temporary Amendment to the Security Service Bill

Coalition Chairman Elkin (Likud) announced that women who eat kosher at home and keep the Sabbath may be exempted from military service, but many secular women have decided to use that loophole in order to get out of serving in the army. He explained this temporary amendment would present the army tools in figuring out which women are tricking the system in order to draft them into the army. He blasted the hundreds of secular women who use this loophole each year and told them that it will be closed very soon. He said this is a balanced bill that will allow religious women to still receive exemptions.

MK Herzog (Labor) said this is a big breakthrough in the struggle for equality in the burden of service. He said it is time to take the fakers and put them back into the army. He said that this temporary amendment is for three years and afterwards it will need to be turned into a permanent bill.

MK Gafni (U.T.J.) opposed the bill said there is no consensus on the bill. He said his party and the Rabbis are against forcing any woman to serve in the army. He said that he isn’t out to protect liars, but women should not be part of the mandatory draft and should only be allowed in the army if they volunteer. He called on his party’s deputy ministers to vote against this bill and follow their ideology. He noted that this was a bill that Kadima wrote in the previous term and it is now the Likud who decided to advance it. He warned the coalition that he and his party are not in the Likud’s pocket and they will seriously consider joining forces with the left after the next elections. He revealed that former Prime Minister Sharon told him that he would leave the Likud to form a new party before the other MKs knew and Gafni told him not to do it. He said that it was a mistake to tell Sharon not to leave the Likud and he is happy that Sharon didn’t listen to him. He concluded that Likud is not grateful for anything his party has sacrificed for them.

MK Eldad said that it is mitzvah [good deed] for everyone to serve in the army, and it is not a mitzvah to lie.

The bill passed its second reading 19-5.

The bill passed its third reading 21-5.

Amendment to the Banking Bill

Funds Committee Chairman Gafni explained the amendment would change the make-up of the directorship of banks as well as increase government supervision on all bank share holders that own over 1%. He said there are a few other minor changes that update basic bank regulations. He said that this bill was advanced with compromises made by the bank owners and the government, and the result is a very balanced bill. He said the most important change in this bill is allowing the government to sell off its shares of Bank Leumi.

The bill passed its second reading 15-0.

The bill passed its third reading 14-0.

Amendment to the Higher Education Bill

Education Minister Sa’ar (Likud) stated there are eight universities and 67 recognized higher education colleges in Israel. He said this amendment would allow the ministry to fund recognized higher education facilities that were not previously funded.

The bill passed its first reading 9-0 and was sent to the Education Committee.

Amendment to the Electricity Bill

Tourism Minister Misezhnikov (Y.B.) explained the amendment would transfer certain responsibilities of controlling the national electric company from the Finance Minister to the Energy and Water Minister.

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

Temporary Amendment to the Engineers and Architects Bill

Minister Misezhnikov stated there are over 9,000 engineers and architects in Israel and the amendment would change their annual fees from a one year license to a three year license. He said this would be a temporary amendment for three years and the government would decide if they want to make the change permanent at that time.

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

Amendment to the Prison Ordinance Bill

Homeland Security Minister Aharonovitch (Y.B.) explained the amendment would allow him to limit a prisoner’s meeting with lawyers. He noted that certain security prisoners use these lawyer visits to engage in terrorist activity, and certain prisoners have dozens of lawyer visits a year even if their case is closed. He said that there are terrorists who take advantage of this loophole, and it must be closed.

MK Zeev expressed support for the bill as long as it only applies to terrorists. Aharonovitch responded that it will only be used for terrorists, mobsters and drug dealers. Zeev agreed to support the bill.

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

Amendment to the Civil Service Bill

Deputy Finance Minister Cohen (Shas) explained the amendment would increase the pensions of policemen and prison servicemen by 5%-12% depending on their service length and rank. He said the changes would be retroactive to 2008 and spouses and orphans are eligible to receive the remainder of that pension. He called on the committee to advance this bill as soon as possible.

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

Amendment to the Mail Bill

Communications Minister Kahlon (Likud) explained the amendment would expand the services offered by the postal bank in its 700 branches nationally. He said that expanding the services they offer will utilize more of the potential of the postal bank and its thousands of workers. He said among the new services are financial consultations and insurance sales.

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

Amendment to the Welfare Services Bill

Labor, Welfare and Health Committee Chairman Katz (Likud) explained the amendment would change the make-up of the appeals committee for citizens who are seeking social worker services from their local municipality and were denied.

The bill passed its second reading 10-0.

The bill passed its third reading 12-0.

MK Solodkin (Kadima) thanked the Knesset for approving her bill. She thanked Kahlon and Katz, who helped her advance this bill that will help hundreds of citizens a year across the country.

Amendment to the Reserve Soldiers and their Families Pension Payment

Labor, Welfare and Health Committee Chairman Katz explained this would be the 100th bill his committee has passed this term, and all of them have brought social justice to Israel. He said there are many needy people in the country, and they need his committee to pass these laws. He said this particular bill would grant orphans who lost their parent or parents in the army or in a terrorist attack before 1999 a one-time payment of NIS 100,000. He said 240 orphans will be eligible for this payment. He said the NIS 100,000 won’t bring their parent back but will give them justice.

The bill passed its second reading 12-0.

The bill passed its third reading 13-0.

Amendment to the Insurance Contracts Bill

Funds Committee Chairman Gafni explained the amendment would allow a customer who drops his insurance policy to not pay for the mandatory 15 days he is covered by the previous insurance company before he chooses a different one. He said insurance companies shouldn’t charge a fine and ask the customer to pay when he has decided to terminate his service.

The bill passed its second reading 10-0.

The bill passed its third reading 9-0.

Amendment to the Traffic Ordinance Bill

Finance Committee Chairman Shama (Likud) explained the amendment would require private companies that give out company cars without leasing companies to have a safety inspector that deals with traffic accidents and violations. He said that the safety inspector will be liable for certain offenses and will be sanctioned for certain violations. He said that the company will be required to give 24 hour service to their drivers. He said that certain defense establishment vehicles will be exempt from some of the regulations. He said MK Wilf’s objections were far reaching and all but one of them should be defeated. MK Shnaan (Independence) said he will vote against the bill because it doesn’t exclude MKs from placing a sticker that allows drivers to call and complain about their driving.

MK Wilf (Independence) explained her objection would prohibit answering machine menus when the safety inspector is not available. She said that she would remove her other objections to the bill.

The bill’s paragraphs passed its second reading 6-3, 7-1 and 7-1.

Wilf’s objection was passed 8-0.

The bill passed its third reading 6-1.

MK Bielski (Kadima) thanked the Knesset for approving his bill.

Amendment to the Municipalities Ordinance Bill

MK Bielski stated this bill would make his late mother proud and will make proud the residents of Ra’anna who he served as mayor for 17 years. He explained the amendment would change the way the central government distributes money to the strong municipalities and ease their regulations. He thanked Prime Minister Netanyahu for personally getting involved and for his position of allowing great municipalities to have independence.

The bill passed its first reading 7-0 and was sent to the Interior Committee.

________________________________________________________________

This was the Knesset Jeremy English translation protocol of the Knesset’s March 12, 2012, session.

Official protocol in Hebrew: http://www.knesset.gov.il/plenum/data/01487012.doc

The Knesset’s Tuesday session lasted about six and a hours. 13 bills were discussed. One bill was advanced after passing its first reading, eight were advanced after passing their preliminary readings, three were turned into motions in order to avoid defeat, and one was defeated. Five bills that would raise the legal marriage age in Israel to 18 were advanced. National Union Chairman Katzeleh’s Judea and Samaria Natural Growth Bill was defeated, but not before he aired some behind-the-scenes dirty laundry.

 

Non-Bills Summary

* 13 MKs gave speeches during the one minute speech segment that opened the day.

* Speaker Rivlin, Deputy Minister Gamliel (Likud) and 8 MKs gave speeches marking International Women’s Day.

* Seven motions were discussed on a wide variety of issues and were sent to the Knesset’s committees by the votes 3-1, 8-0, 9-0, 7-0, 5-0, 2-0 and 2-0.

Bills Summary

Amendment to the Marriage Age Bill x5

MK Levin (Likud) explained his amendment would raise the age of marriage from 17 to 18. He said this issue has been a struggle for years and is finally taking off. He said thousands of 16 and 17 year olds marry each year, in most cases they are forced into the marriage, and most of the time it will eventually lead to divorce. He said it is absurd that a 17 year old is allowed to marry but is not allowed to do many other things including buying a house. He said that Jordan and Egypt have already raised the age of marriage to 18. He said that certain 16 and 17 year olds will be allowed to marry under his bill, but only if the court approves the marriage after hearing both sides. He said this is a just bill and must be passed as soon as possible.

MK Zuaretz (Kadima) said her similar amendment would accomplish the same thing and is a true breakthrough.

MK Khenin (Hadash) said his similar amendment would accomplish the same thing and protects women in particular and society as a whole. He said a minor who can’t purchase a lottery ticket or drink a beer legally shouldn’t be allowed to drop out of school in order to get married. He noted the government opposed his bill a year ago, and he is glad the government came around. He suggested prohibiting men over the age of 36 from receiving court permission to marry 16 or 17 years olds.

MK Horowitz (Meretz) said his similar amendment would accomplish the same thing. He said that his co-sponsor MK Gal-On (Meretz) has been fighting for years on this issue and that this bill has been opposed by the government since the first Knesset term in 1949. He praised the socialist concept of regulating the age of marriage.

MK Zoabi (Balad) said her similar amendment would accomplish the same thing. She noted that there are 3,000 marriages of minors a year in the Arab sector alone. She stated that Israel is joining Egypt, Morocco, Turkey and Jordan who have all raised the age of marriage to 18 over the last five years. She said those who get married before 18 are forced to do so, and it leads to miscarriages and divorce.

Deputy Minister Gamliel (Likud) expressed government support for the bill. She said that over 500 women give birth under the age of 18 each year and that can lead to serious health problems according to various studies. She said women who decide to get married before 18 are not doing so under free will. She stated this is an historic moment.

MK Zeev (Shas) opposed the bill and said that he has never seen a darker day in the Knesset than today. He asked who the Knesset is to think they can tell a woman when she can marry. He called those who support this bill hypocrites. He noted that Iceland, The Netherlands, Hungary, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey, United Kingdom, Canada, certain states in the United States of America and Switzerland all allow marriage under the age of 18 without the need for the court’s permission. He argued this bill violates Basic Law: Freedoms and is an embarrassment. He suggested this bill would increase abortions because shotgun marriages would be more difficult and the mother would have to decide if she wants a bastard child or not at all.

MK Levin (Likud) asked which MK would allow his child to get married at the age of 17 and asked what they would do to prevent it. He said this bill helps protect women from forced marriage.

The first bill passed its preliminary reading 39-8 with one MK abstaining.

The second bill passed its preliminary reading 39-7.

The third bill passed its preliminary reading 39-7.

The fourth bill passed its preliminary reading 39-7.

The fifth bill passed its preliminary reading 37-8 with one MK abstaining.

The bills were merged and sent to the House Committee to determine which committee will discuss them further.

Amendment to the Copyright Bill

MK Gilon (Meretz) explained his amendment would require accessibility of books inside libraries and stores for people with disabilities. He said that 150,000 disabled people require this bill and this is another great American bill that Israel would be adapting. He said preventing disabled people from accessing books is unfortunate and should be corrected.

Bureaucracy Minister Eitan (Likud) expressed government support for the bill.

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

Motion/Amendment to the Government Bill

MK Naffaa (Balad) explained his amendment would require the Ministerial Committee on Legislation to list their reasoning for opposing a bill. He said the current situation where there is a check or an X is not acceptable, and writing at least one sentence would be helpful to the MK who has to prepare a speech to change the government’s opinion. He quoted Minister Begin (Likud), who said that the committee can’t discuss 4,000 bills a year and sometimes only gives a bill thirty seconds. He challenged the government to support his bill and create a more productive and transparent legislative process.

Bureaucracy Minister said that he personally feels that this a worthy bill but that he is in the minority in the government. He said that the government opposes the bill but allows a discussion in the committee if he agrees to turn the bill into a motion. He said that in a parliamentary democracy there is a need for this type of idea. He expressed the government position that the ministers see no reason to explain themselves to the Knesset members.  Naffaa agreed to turn the bill into a motion.

The motion passed 28-0 and was sent to the Justice Committee.

Judea and Samaria Cities Natural Development Bill

MK Katzeleh (N.U.) said elections will be held within the next year and eight months. He praised the Likud MKs who appear as Land of Israel candidates in Makor Rishon, Arutz Sheva and Srugim. He said that Deputy Minister Ya’alon, Coalition Chairman Elkin, House Committee Chairman Levin and Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs Committee Chairman Danon are all good men, but they aren’t the ones who decide policy within the Likud. He slammed Netanyahu, who told him when he needed National Union’s support with President Peres that he would allow natural development in Judea and Samaria and went on to freeze all settlements and Jerusalem. He said that if all of the good “Eretz Yisrael” candidates couldn’t convince Netanyahu to support this National Union bill that would enable natural development then it is very obvious they have no impact. He called on the nationalist camp to vote for the bill that would help Netanyahu keep his word. He warned the Likud MKs that the public will judge them for opposing this bill. He quoted Likud’s Judea and Samaria Mayors of Ma’aleh Adumim and Ariel, who criticize Netanyahu for freezing their settlements until today. He called Netanyahu a dictator. MK Hotovely interrupted him to defend Netanyahu, and Katzeleh slammed Hotovely for voting against Judea and Samaria and told her that she isn’t worth anything if Netanyahu doesn’t listen to one word that she says. He asked Hotovely how she can vote against building in Ma’aleh Adumim, Ariel, Beitar Ilit, Modiin Ilit, Alefi Meneshe and Efrat. He said Hotovely is worth nothing and her interviews with Arutz Sheva are worth nothing. He slammed the Likud for the building freeze.

Minister Begin (Likud) was being heckled by Shas and Jewish Home MKs before he even started talking, leading Deputy Speaker Majadele (Labor) to ask the coalition members to respect their own minister. Begin expressed government opposition to the bill and defended Netanyahu and his current style of government. He said this bill limits the executive branch’s power and increases the power of the legislative branch. He said that he supports Judea and Samaria’s 342,414 residents and supports the idea of increasing those numbers, but not through legislation. He said that he will defend his record and Netanyahu’s record during the next election campaign and won’t run from it.

MK Katzeleh said that although he is a loyal Eretz Yisrael person, this isn’t a Katzeleh bill or a National Union bill, this is an Eretz Yisrael bill. He told Minister Begin that he respects him personally but Begin can’t ignore the facts. He told Begin that he can’t ignore that Netanyahu accepted the two-state solution, froze Judea and Samaria building completely for ten months and froze building in many places until today, and froze our capital of Jerusalem. He told Begin that he sat with Netanyahu and Gideon Sa’ar after the 2009 election, and Netanyahu promised to allow natural growth in Judea and Samaria. Katzeleh said it is very important that we state the fact that Netanyahu lied and warn the public before the next elections that Netanyahu is a liar.

The bill was defeated 5-24 with one MK abstaining.

Motion/Amendment to the Traffic Ordinance Bill

MK Tirosh (Kadima) explained her amendment would require installing a blue flashing light on the new traffic cameras around the country. She said that the new traffic cameras are a great idea but they shouldn’t be a money maker and should instead be used to prevent speeding. She said the government can find another way to collect money but these fines take it too far. She asked why police cars must have a blue siren but a traffic camera is exempt and told them to stop camouflaging them. She said that this bill is the same as asking school children to be silent when the teacher is out of the room. She said that studies show that high speeding is not the highest parameter is traffic accidents. She said that the Moresha interchange camera has handed out over a thousand fines in the last month alone.

Science and Technology Minister Hershkowitz (J.H.) asked Tirosh to turn the bill into a motion in order to discuss the matter in committee. Tirosh agreed.

The motion passed 11-0 and was sent to the Finance Committee.

Motion/Amendment to the Real Estate Tax Bill

MK Solodkin (Kadima) explained Jerusalem, Ashdod and Netanya are filled with apartments that are owned by foreigners who don’t even rent them out. She said that her amendment would require a 20% real estate purchase tax for all nonresidents. She slammed the government for opposing her bill and embracing empty ‘ghost’ neighborhoods.

Deputy Finance Minister Cohen (Shas) said that only 4% of houses are bought by nonresidents for an average of NIS 1.73 million per house, 62% higher than the resident average. He said that since the nonresidents are not competing with young couples for small apartments the government is against the bill that would discriminate against nonresidents and violate diplomatic treaties that would cause double taxation.  He suggested turning the bill into a motion, and Solodkin agreed.

The motion passed 6-0 and was sent to the House Committee to determine which committee will discuss it.

Amendment to the Mandatory Tenders Bill

MK Michaeli (Shas) explained his amendment would give incentives to factories that employ disabled people within the Tenders Bill. He said that MK Orlev (J.H.) and MK Avraham Balila (Kadima) recently advanced similar bills, and his bill would be merged with their bills in committee.

Deputy Finance Minister Cohen expressed government support for the bill except for the provisions that violate the GPA agreement. He explained that there are 150 factories that meet these requirements and they receive 140 million shekels a year in incentives already.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 6-0 and was sent to the Labor Committee.

Amendment to the Planning and Building Bill

MK Khenin explained the amendment would allow installation of solar panel systems on buildings without limiting the number of floors. He said the current restriction on solar panel systems on buildings of over nine levels is old news and it is time to get with technology.

Religious Affairs Minister Margi (Shas) expressed government support for the bill.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 7-0 and was sent to the Environment Committee.

Amendment to the Income Tax Ordinance Bill

The bill that was presented and discussed the previous evening was vote on. It passed its first reading 6-0 and was sent to the Welfare Committee.

________________________________________________________________

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

Official protocol in Hebrew: http://www.knesset.gov.il/plenum/data/01397612.doc

The Knesset’s Monday session lasted about two hours. Four bills were discussed. One bill became law after passing its third reading, two bills were advanced after passing their first readings and one bill was not voted on. There was no no-confidence motions this week due to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s trip to United States. It is an unofficial tradition not to attempt to topple the government while the Prime Minister is representing Israel overseas. Because the Wednesday session was cancelled, the Knesset’s usual three-day week was merged into a two-day week schedule.

 

Non-Bills Summary

* 15 MKs gave speeches during the one minute speech segment that opened the day.

* Homefront Security Minister Vilnai (Independence), Energy and Water Minister Landau (Y.B.), Deputy Education Minister Moses (U.T.J.), Labor and Welfare Minister Kahalon (Likud) and Immigration and Absorption Minister Landvor (Y.B.) answered urgent queries.

* Justice, Law and Constitution Committee Chairman Rotem (Y.B.) announced his committees request to split a bill into two. The Knesset approved the request 11-0.

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

Bills Summary

Amendment to the Population Registration Bill

Interior and Environment Committee Chairman Cohen (Shas) explained the amendment would force the population registry to change a citizen’s religion based on the Rabbinical Court decisions. He said it is unacceptable that many people are Jews according to Jewish law and the secular population registry in the Interior Ministers office refuses to list them as such. He said the population registry can temporary not comply if they have reason to believe the citizen is not Jewish, however if a Rabbinical Court examines that evidence and disagrees, they must comply with the court decision.

The bill passed its second reading 14-0.

The bill passed its third reading 14-0.

Temporary Amendment to the Income Tax Ordinance Bill

Deputy Finance Minister Cohen (Shas) explained the amendment would increase the interest earned as well as a tax benefit package for seniors who keep their pension in the government’s hands for an extended period of time, allowing them to do part-time work during that time.

MK Ben Ari (N.U.) blasted the 40% increase of water bills in the last two years. He suggested the national project of transferring from national water resources to privately run treatment plants is hurting Israelis and should be prevented and repealed.

MK Molla (Kadima) slammed the government decision to transfer seven billion shekels from the budget to different places in one committee discussion and vote. He said this isn’t a serious way to deal with the tax payers money. He asked why the Immigration and Absorption Ministry was cut by 28 million shekel. He blasted the 5.5 million shekel cut in the Ethiopian budget. He suggested Minister Landvor supported these measures and doesn’t really want to absorb the remaining Jews in Ethiopia.

Immigration and Absorption Minister Landvor (Y.B.) told Molla to drop the stigma that she is against absorbing immigrants in general and Ethiopians in particular. She said that she fought against those cuts and Molla should stop trying to be a populist to win points. She said that all of her projects were cut and not just those of Ethiopians. MK Molla heckled her speech, so she decided to step down from the podium.

MK Eichler (U.T.J.) criticized the government position that high gas taxes are meant to save the environment and promote public transportation. He then went on to slam foreign lobbyists that are promoting incitement against orthodox Jews of all types and settlers. He called for transparency on all of the hidden lobbyists that are not classified as such. He concluded by calling the Israeli Supreme Court a group of Meretz supporters that act like dictators, but unlike Russian President Putin, they don’t even need to pretend to have elections.

Deputy Speaker Vaknin (Shas) announced the vote for this bill will take place the next day.

Amendment to the Pension Payment for Reserve Soldiers and Their Families Bill 

MK Matalon (Y.B.) explained the amendment would grant a one time payment of 100,000 shekel to orphans who lost a parent during a terrorist attack or military service before 1999. He explained that the payment goes to the spouse, but in cases of no living spouse the orphans would not receive the payment. He stated this bill would fix the technical loophole and 240 orphans would now receive their payment.

MK Zeev (Shas) praised the bill and slammed the current situation.

The bill passed its first reading 5-0 and was sent to the Welfare Committee.

Amendment to the Social Security Bill

Funds Committee Chairman Gafni (U.T.J.) explained the amendment would grant eligibility for an old age pension increase for widows and housewives over the age of 82 years. He said that the increase would end the discrimination where women over the age of 82 receive less money than women under the age of 82. He said the bill would take effect on January 1st 2013.

The bill passed its first reading 7-0 and was sent to the Funds Committee.

________________________________________________________________

This was the Knesset Jeremy English translation protocol of the Knesset’s March 5, 2012, session.

Official protocol in Hebrew: http://www.knesset.gov.il/plenum/data/01361112.doc

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