Archive for May, 2012


The Knesset’s Tuesday session lasted about two hours. Three bills were discussed and advanced after passing their first readings. The Knesset seemed to be back to normal after an interesting beginning to the summer session. The bills advanced deal with a wide range of issues from animal protection to sports coaches to dollar mortgage rates.

 

Non-Bills Summary

  • Ten MKs spoke during the one minute speech segment that opened the day.
  • Four MKs asked queries during a question hour with Energy and Water Minister Landau.
  • Deputy Speaker Edery (Kadima) gave a warm speech welcoming the parliament delegation from New Zealand. 

Bills Summary

Amendment to the Sports Bill

Education, Culture and Sport Committee Chairman Miller (Y.B.) explained the amendment would regulate the occupation of sports coaches to meet the accepted European standards. He announced that European coaches who come to work in Israel leave quickly after they learn that they don’t enjoy the same rights as they do in Europe.

MK Khenin (Hadash) praised the bill and expressed his support. He said that all occupations should merit such rights and regulations.

MK Eichler (U.T.J.) opted to discuss the sport of violence against his sector of the ultra-orthodox Jews. He gave praise to Education Minister Sa’ar (Likud) for adding “Pirkei Avot” to the secular public school system. He went on to discuss violence in sports and in reality shows.

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

Amendment to the Animal Welfare Bill

MK Khenin expressed his support for MK Cabel (Labor) who is running for the head of the Histadrut. He explained the amendment would increase the powers of inspection to ensure proper enforcement of the bill. He said the current bill is not really enforced and many animals are tortured and killed every day.

MK Eichler said that it is sad that when it comes to animals this type of bill receives wall to wall support but when it comes to protecting people, the authority is never extended. He said the environmental and animal rights religion is forcing others to follow their rules but the Jewish religion is taboo. He said that he does not like this bill or the movement behind it. He said the financial resources being spent on this law should go to protecting humans.

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

Amendment to the Standard Contracts Bill

Finance Committee Chairman Shama (Likud) explained the amendment would set a minimum rate on mortgages so that if someone takes one out when it is 4.80 shekels to the dollar and it improves to 3.20 the customer won’t get the bad end of the deal.

MK Eichler praised the bill that will help the little guy and put the greedy big banks in their place. He read a Rabbi’s book that said that Jews will only be allowed to live in Israel if they follow the Torah. He slammed those who incite against the ultra-orthodox, charging they are using the same words the Germans used against the Jews before the Holocaust.

MK Ben Ari (N.U.) noted that the previous day marks 30 years since the disengagement from Yamit and its sister settlements. He recalled living there and being evacuated from there. He asked if 30 years later it was worth it. He said that peace is a mask for surrender and retreat. He went on to criticize the deal struck with the hunger striking terrorists. He warned that we haven’t learned our lesson from Yamit and we are at real risk today of retreating into the sea.

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

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This was the Knesset Jeremy English translation protocol of the Knesset’s May 15, 2012, session.

Official protocol in Hebrew: http://www.knesset.gov.il/plenum/data/02339712.doc

The Knesset had two sessions on Monday. The first session, meant solely for choosing the next State Comptroller in a secret ballot vote, lasted about three and a half hours. Later that evening the second session lasted about three hours. Prime Minister Netanyahu’s candidate Shapira was selected as the next State Comptroller. Netanyahu’s 94-MK coalition embarrassed him in the secret vote as Shapira failed to receive the required 61 votes in the first two rounds, forcing a third. Seven bills were discussed. Six bills were advanced after passing their first readings, and one bill became law after passing its third reading. The new law limits the number of visits a prisoner can receive from a lawyer if there is a threat to national security.

 

Non-Bills Summary

  • In the first round of State Comptroller voting 114 MKs participated, and 6 MKs were absent. Joseph Shapira received 58 votes,  Eliezer Rivlin 44 and Shlomo Kalderon 10. Two MKs gave in blank papers.
  • In the second round of voting 111 MKs participated, and nine were absent. Shapira received 59, Rivlin 45, and Kalderon 2, with three blank papers and two disqualified votes.
  • 111 MKs participated in the third and final round of voting between the top two candidates. Shapira won 68 and Rivlin 40, with one blank paper and two disqualified votes.
  • House Committee Chairman Levin (Likud) announced that MK Bar-On (Kadima) will replace Minister Mofaz (Kadima) as the  Knesset’s Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman. He also announced his committee’s decisions on which disputed bills would be discussed in which committees. The decisions were approved 4-1.
  • Hadash, Ra’am-Ta’al and Balad’s joint no-confidence motion titled ‘The unity government increases the danger of war’ was defeated 11-26.
  • Labor’s no-confidence motion titled ‘The government’s intention to enact drastic and dangerous cuts in the 2013 budget,  especially in the social field’ was defeated 12-26.
  • Meretz’s no-confidence motion titled ‘The “stinking maneuver” of the unity between the Netanyahu government and Kadima’ was defeated 12-26.

Bills Summary

Amendment to the Prison Ordinance Bill

MK Pinyan (Likud) explained the amendment would allow the prison service to limit the number of lawyers that visit a prisoner in Israeli jails if there is a fear that the prisoner-lawyer meetings pose a risk to national security. He explained the previous 2011 amendment limited certain terrorist lawyers’ visits with prisoners but it did not prevent unknown terrorist lawyers from meeting with terrorists who handed over sensitive information to the wrong hands. Prisoners who have finished their appeal process and still receive dozens of lawyer visits a year raise concerns that these lawyer visits are being used as a loophole by the prisoners to engage in terrorist activity. Mafia lawyers also use this loophole to allow their bosses to run things from inside prison. He stressed that it is important to note that this amendment limits the number of lawyer visits but does not prohibit them, adding that a prisoner will be entitled to at least one visit every month. He asked the Knesset to defeat the opposition’s objections to the bill.

MK Horowitz (Meretz) said it is important to protect the basic right of every prisoner to meet with his lawyer as often as he wants for as long as he wants. He spoke against the bill and said that these basic rights should not be limited. He called on the Knesset to defeat the bill, but, if they choose to support the bill, to at least support his party’s objections to it.

MK Khenin (Hadash) started his speech by praising the deal between the security prisoners and the prison service that ended the prisoners’ hunger strike. He went on to express his solidarity with the security prisoners’ position against administrative detention and their living conditions. He praised the accomplishments of the strike by equating most of the Palestinian security prisoners’ rights to those of regular Israeli prisoners but expressed regret that there is still a long way to go. He slammed the current bill as problematic, dangerous and unconstitutional. He said this bill gives the prison authority too much responsibility at the price of lawyer and prisoner rights. He said that he was not convinced there is any terrorist or mafia activity being conducted during prisoner-lawyer meetings. He called this a collective punishment bill that will harm the lawyers’ abilities to do their jobs and the prisoners’ basic democratic rights. He called on the Knesset to defeat the bill or to at least support his objections if they choose to support the bill.

The bill’s paragraphs passed their second readings 14-4 and 16-4.

The objections were defeated 4-14, 4-15, 4-16 and 4-16.

The bill passed its third reading 16-4.

Changing the Social Economy Bill

Deputy Education Minister Moses (U.T.J.) explained the original bill would require the Education Minister to receive the Knesset’s Education Committee’s authorization on the exact payments required from parents for their children’s public schooling. He explained that with public schooling starting at age 3 instead of age 5, the extension of the book loaning program, longer hours for children under the age of 9 and the funding of informal education programs such as youth groups, the government will probably need to raise tuition. He stated this bill will designate 500 million shekels to be utilized to help pay part of the tuition for parents of low socioeconomic background.

MK Khenin stated that public school should be free for all and instead each year it becomes more expensive. He warned this bill will create a two-step educational system where parents will need to be embarrassed in order to receive a discount.  He added that the social justice movements last summer were fighting to lower tuition and not to increase it for some. He called the bill an embarrassment and a disgrace.

The bill passed its first reading 10-1 and was sent to the Education Committee.

Amendment to the Execution Bill

Homeland Security Minister Aharonovitch (Y.B.) explained the amendment would allow accelerated repo proceedings for amounts under NIS 10,000. He said that the pilot plan was successful and this bill will widen the program to most cases under NIS 10,000.

MK Khenin expressed his opposition to the bill on the grounds that it harms poor people. He said that repo proceedings for under NIS 10,000 are almost always against poor people, and an accelerated route will harm them. He said that if the bill passes he will fight it in committee.

The bill passed its first reading 8-2 and was sent to the Justice Committee.

Amendment to the Administrative Courts Bill

Homeland Security Minister Aharonovitch explained the amendment extends the authority of the administrative courts so that they will be able to hear cases on illegal immigrants as well.

MK Khenin spoke in favor of the Africans and said that the border should remain open and that Israel should allow them to work. He blamed the government for the latest wave of violence in the poor neighborhoods because it is the government that places the Africans in those areas, waiting for an explosion. He called on the Knesset to oppose this bill because it will harm the Africans’ rights.

The bill passed its first reading 8-2, with one MK abstaining and was sent to the Justice Committee.

Amendment to the Patents Bill

Homeland Security Minister Aharonovitch explained the amendment would regulate the patents authority to ensure the extension of protection. He said that a treaty signed by this administration between Israel and the United States requires this amendment to pass in order for the treaty to take effect. He confessed that he had no idea what he just read or what the bill does.

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

Amendment to the Traffic Ordinance Bill

Homeland Security Minister Aharonovitch explained the amendment would delay the new regulations on “sheirut” cab drivers to 2013 with an ability to extend for another three years until 2016 if the Finance Committee authorizes the request.

MK Khenin spoke in favor of sheirut cab services and called for having them operate on the Jewish Sabbath as well. He gave a five minute speech stressing the importance of public transportation on the Sabbath.

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

Amendment to the Clean Air Bill

Homeland Security Minister Aharonovitch explained the amendment would clean up the bureaucracy and make it easier to receive a building permit for factories that cause pollution.

MK Khenin opposed the bill and slammed the government for making it easier for the polluting factories to open up shop.

The bill passed its first reading 8-2 and was sent to the Environment Committee.

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

Official protocol in Hebrew: http://www.knesset.gov.il/plenum/data/02306212.doc and http://www.knesset.gov.il/plenum/data/02297712.doc

The Knesset’s Wednesday session lasted a little over seven hours. The new 26-MK opposition embarrassed Prime Minister Netanyahu as MK Ariel (N.U.) found a legal loophole that required Netanyahu to admit that Kadima will be given more than what is written in the 4-page coalition agreement. Netanyahu was forced to call for an hour recess to clarify his legal obligations in terms of what he must report. Speaker Rivlin made a memorable joke that there are more ministers than opposition members, so perhaps they should switch seats. Eight bills were discussed. Four bills were advanced after three passed their preliminary readings and one its first reading. One bill was turned into a motion, two bills were pulled to avoid defeat and one bill was defeated. One of the bills advanced will designate special parking spaces for senior citizens over the age of 75.

 

Non-Bills Summary

 

  • Homefront Security Minister Vilnai (Independence) answered two urgent queries at the beginning of the session.
  • A motion on the wave of violence during the weekend was discussed by 13 MKs and Homeland Security Minister Aharonovitch (Y.B.). The motion was sent to the Interior Committee by a 19-0 vote.
  • The government’s request to add Kadima Chairman Shaul Mofaz as a minister was discussed by 33 MKs and Ministers Erdan and Begin (Likud). Mofaz was approved 71-23 and became a minister.
  • Speaker Rivlin announced that the new Opposition Leader will be Labor Chairwoman Shelly Yachimovich.
  • A motion marking 67 years since Nazi Germany’s defeat was marked by speeches from Speaker Rivlin, Prime Minister Netanyahu, Opposition Leader Yachimovich, Immigration and Absorption Minister Landver (Y.B.), Hadash Chairman Barakeh and Holocaust survivor Minister Peled (Likud).

 

Bills Summary

 

Amendment to the Senior Citizens Bill

MK Gafni (U.T.J.) explained the amendment would allocate designated parking spaces in a public place for senior citizens over the age of 75. He said that elderly drivers deserve designated spots closer to the public places.

Deputy Minister Nass (Likud) expressed government support for the bill. She expressed hope this will encourage senior citizens to use their cars more frequently.

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

Amendment to the Discharged Soldiers Absorption Bill

MK Ilatov (Y.B.) explained the amendment would encourage discharged soldiers to learn engineering and technology studies. He said that the shortage of Israeli manpower in these areas is troublesome. He proposed that the solution to overcome the issue is a financial incentive from the country for discharged soldiers.

Education Minister Sa’ar (Likud) expressed government support for the bill.

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

Basic Law: The Right to Housing

MK Khenin (Hadash) explained his proposed Basic Law would anchor the right of every citizen to housing into constitutional law. He said that it is the country’s responsibility to provide housing for every citizen and this will bill will accomplish that.

Education Minister Sa’ar said the government is against the bill because it wasn’t brought up to the Ministerial Committee of Legislative Affairs. He asked Khenin to consider postponing the vote on the bill for a month in order to allow him to submit the bill to the committee. Khenin agreed.

Rewarding Soldiers in Regular Service Bill

MK Peretz (Labor) explained his original bill would pay soldiers minimum wage in the last third of their service. He said that the Defense Ministry is supporting the bill and he doesn’t understand why the government is not supporting it. He said that in the spirit of the Tal Law debate, this bill should be passed.

Coalition Chairman Elkin (Likud) explained that Defense Minister Barak (Independence) supports the bill but the government does not support it. He suggested Peretz delay the vote for two weeks in order to reconcile the differences between Barak’s and the government’s positions. Peretz agreed.

Motion/Amendment to the Employment of Women Bill

MK Schneller (Kadima) explained the amendment would allow employees the right to be absent from work while their spouse in on reserve duty. He said that when a member of the family goes on reserve duty the entire family goes on reserve duty. He noted that the family responsibilities are divided between both parents and sometimes the spouse who is left at home can’t take on both daily task lists. He noted that most reserve soldiers only serve one week a year so the cost of the bill should not be that high. He appealed to the Finance Minister to accept his bill. He agreed to Speaker Rivlin’s request to turn the bill into a motion so it could be discussed in committee.

The motion passed 21-0 and was sent to the Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee.

Amendment to the Holocaust Denial Prohibition Bill

MK Ben Ari (N.U.) explained Israeli law defines anyone who is found guilty of Holocaust denial a criminal. He said his amendment would prohibitIsraelfrom negotiating with a Holocaust denier. He confessed that this bill would preventIsraelfrom negotiating with Palestinian leader Abu Mazen. He slammed the leftists for talking about the occupation and conquest ofJudeaandSamaria. He noted that the Knesset sits on conquered land from 1948 where an Arab village once stood. He slammed MK El-Sana (R.T.) for claiming to be a Jebusite (Yevusi) and asked him to say one word in Yevusit. He went on to read Abu Mazen’s doctorate paper on Holocaust denial.

Education Minister Sa’ar said that there is a lot of truth in Ben Ari’s words but the bill he has presented does not enjoy government support. He explained that the government does not see a reason to support this bill because it limits the government’s flexibility and has legal loopholes.

MK Ben Ari confessed he is not a legal expert. He said that common sense would lead normal people to support his bill in principle and work out the details in committee. He went on to criticize the Likud for acting suicidal.

The bill was defeated 4-22.

Authorized Engineers and Technicians Bill

MK Haim Katz (Likud) announced the original bill would regulate the studies and work rules of engineers and technicians.

The bill passed its first reading 24-0 and was sent to the Labor Committee.

Amendment to the Courts Bill

MK Abesadze (Kadima) explained her amendment would highlight the public debate on domestic violence charges by allowing domestic abuse cases to be tried in open hearings.

Education Minister Sa’ar expressed government support for the bill but added that the courts will be given the flexibility to decide which cases will be closed.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 21-0 and was sent to the Justice Committee.

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This was the Knesset Jeremy English translation protocol of the Knesset’sMay 9, 2012, session.

Official protocol in Hebrew: http://www.knesset.gov.il/plenum/data/02221012.doc

The Knesset’s Tuesday session lasted about an hour and 15 minutes. It was a short day since everyone had expected early elections to be called the night before. Speaker Rivlin explained that the MKs will have to get back to their normal work.

Non-Bills Summary

  • 16 MKs gave one minute speeches. The main topic was the cancellation of early elections and the new national unity coalition of 94 MKs. Finance Minister Steinitz (Likud) responded at the end to the 16 MKs’ statements.

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

Official protocol in Hebrew: Bug on Knesset website, not available.

 

The Knesset’s Monday session started at 4 PM and ended at 2:51 AM. When the Knesset convened it was going to call for early elections to take place September 4, 2012. By the end of the night it was clear that a new Likud-Kadima coalition agreement would call off the move for early elections, pushing elections back to their original date of October 22, 2013. Fifteen bills were discussed. Fourteen bills became law after passing their third readings, and one bill was advanced after passing its first reading. Some interesting laws passed in the middle of the night when new elections were knocking at the door.

 

Non-Bills Summary

  • Kadima’s no-confidence motion was defeated 44-63 with one MK abstaining. Hadash, Ra’am-Ta’al and Balad’s joint no-confidence motion was defeated 41-65 with one MK abstaining. Labor’s no-confidence motion was defeated 47-62 with one MK abstaining. National Union’s no-confidence motion was defeated 6-62 with 23 MKs abstaining.
  • New Kadima MK Yuval Zellner was sworn in, taking former Kadima MK Tzipi Livni’s place.
  • Herzl Day was marked by speeches from Speaker Rivlin, Prime Minister Netanyahu and Opposition Leader Mofaz.
  • House Committee Chairman Levin (Likud) announced which disputed bills will be discussed in which committees.
  • Bills calling for new elections were submitted by Minister Erdan (Likud) and nine other MKs. This led to a long discussion that provided the opportunity for campaign speeches. At the end of the discussion Erdan’s bill was passed in its first reading 109-1 (Labor MK Majadele opposed) with ten MKs not present for the vote. The other bills passed their preliminary readings 100-2, 87-3, 96-2-1, 101-2-1, 91-2-1, 86-3-1, 101-2-1, 72-4-2 and 96-2-2.

Bills Summary 

Medical Equipment Bill

MK Eldad (N.U.) explained that this original bill has been in works for 16 years. He explained the bill regulates and places government supervision on all medical equipment used in all government medical institutions. He noted that institution personnel who do not comply will be subject to 6 months to 3 years of jail time

The bill passed its second reading 17-0.

The bill passed its third reading 22-0.

Amendment to the Terms of Probation Bill

Law, Justice and Constitution Committee Chairman Rotem (Y.B.) explained the amendment would update the appeals committee makeup for life sentence security prisoners to match the committee for non-security prisoners.

The bill passed its second reading 16-0.

The bill passed its third reading 19-0.

Amendment to the Money Laundering Prohibition Bill

Law, Justice and Constitution Committee Chairman Rotem explained the amendment would update Israel’s money laundering regulations to meet recently signed international agreements on the subject.

The bill passed its second reading 12-0.

The bill passed its third reading 15-0.

Amendment to the Lending Textbooks Bill

Education, Culture and Sport Committee Chairman Miller (Y.B.) explained the amendment would require principals to conduct a vote of school children’s parents on joining the lending textbooks program. He said that if 60% of parents want to join the program, the principal will be forced to join it.

The bill passed its second reading 17-0.

The bill passed its third reading 20-0.

Education Minister Sa’ar (Likud) thanked Miller for passing the bill during the last week of Knesset as fast as possible.

Amendment to the Antitrust Bill

Finance Committee Chairman Shama (Likud) explained the amendment would increase the authority of the government’s antitrust bodies in order to increase the enforcement of existing laws.

The bill passed its second reading 15-0.

The bill passed its third reading 15-0.

Amendment to the Prison Ordinance Bill

Interior and Environment Committee Chairman Cohen (Shas) explained the amendment regulates the rights of prisoners. He said this bill costs a lot of money and significantly raises prisoners’ quality of life both during their stay in jail and their rehabilitation afterwards. He said that this is an historic day that will be remembered as a holiday for prisoners today and for the years to come.

The bill passed its second reading 16-0.

The bill passed its third reading 14-0.

MK Khenin (Hadash) thanked Cohen for helping him reform the way the government views prisoners. He also thanked a long list of government workers who helped him advance and pass this bill. He said this bill will be remembered as the most democratic, revolutionary and progressive bill that the 18th Knesset has passed. He expressed his support for the security prisoners that are hunger striking.

Amendment to the Checks without Cover Bill

Law, Justice and Constitution Committee Chairman Rotem explained the amendment would require the bank to provide someone joining an existing bank account all of the information about the account. He said this way people won’t fall victim to business scams or be tricked by loved ones.

The bill passed its second reading 10-0.

The bill passed its third reading 9-0.

MK Shemtov (Y.B.) thanked Rotem for passing the bill before early elections. She thanked other Yisrael Beitenu MKs for helping her advance the bill.

Amendment to the Social Security Bill

MK Eldad explained the amendment would cut social security payments in half to terrorists who were sentenced to ten years or more and will also harm their families’ rights to inheritance of that money.

MK Rotem said that although the 50% reduction is positive, Israel remains a sucker because they will still be giving the terrorists the other 50%.

The bill passed its second reading 13-0.

The bill passed its third reading 10-0.

Amendment to the Nazi Persecution and Nazi War Invalids Bill

Appropriations Committee Chairman Gafni (U.T.J.) said this bill was submitted in 1999 and has been delayed each year. He explained the bill would increase the Holocaust era handicap pensions. He said 23,219 people would receive the increase, and the cost will stand at 100 million shekels annually. He noted that the gradual payment increases are based on criteria that will give some people more and some less.

MK Solodkin (Kadima) said that she has proposed many bills in the last three years on this subject and was told each time that there was no money. She thanked the government for wising up at the last minute and giving 100 million shekels to a just cause.

MK Shemtov thanked Gafni for making sure that there will be Russian war veterans enjoying some of the 100 million shekels as well.

The bill passed its second reading 31-0.

The bill passed its third reading 28-0.

Amendment to the Mandatory Tenders Bill

Law, Justice and Constitution Committee Chairman Rotem explained the amendment would ensure that government tenders do not discriminate against employees over the age of 40.

Deputy Finance Minister Cohen (Shas) asked the Knesset approve his ministry’s objection.

The bill’s paragraphs passed their second readings 22-0, 12-4, 24-0 and 19-0.

The Finance Minister’s objection was approved 18-5.

The bill passed its third reading 18-0.

MK Bielski (Kadima) thanked the Knesset for approving the bill that will help older people overcome discrimination and get jobs.

Amendment to the Mines Ordinance Bill

Finance Committee Chairman Shama announced that he can confirm the hallway chatter and rumors. He said that a national unity government with Kadima is imminent and a Likud faction meeting in 20 minutes should confirm the rumors. He explained that the bill will increase the punishment of those who mine materials illegally to five years in jail and a fine of close to one million shekels.

The bill’s paragraphs passed their second readings 11-0, 10-1 and 12-0.

The bill passed its third reading 10-0.

MK Ariel (N.U.) thanked Shama for passing the bill swiftly and the Knesset for approving his bill.

Amendment to the Aviation Services Bill

Speaker Rivlin announced that the Knesset will continue to discuss the bills on the agenda, despite the rumors of a new national unity government. Rivlin said that if the Knesset’s parties ask him to close the session without passing all 45 bills on the agenda, he will allow it.

Finance Committee Chairman Shama explained the amendment would grant compensation and assistance for flight cancellation or modification of the terms. He said that if a ticket is cancelled or delayed by an airline the airline should compensate the customer. He said that this bill would meet the European standards for flight cancellation compensation. He said this consumer protection bill is very important. He thanked and praised MK Tibi.

The bill’s paragraphs passed their second readings 16-0, 18-0, 19-0 and 19-0.

MK Tibi’s objection was accepted 15-0.

Justice Minister Neeman’s objection was defeated 1-18.

The bill passed its third reading 19-0.

Chairman Shama said this was the most complicated bill that his committee has discussed and it took hundreds of hours to prepare.

Speaker Rivlin told Coalition Chairman Elkin (Likud) and the opposition MKs that he cannot close the Knesset session unless he receives a request to do so. He stressed that he had not yet been informed if early elections had been cancelled and there still had not been any public statement.

MK Tibi (R.T.) said that he is very emotional and pleased to have this bill become law. He said that although he has ideological differences with Shama he views him as a man of professional integrity. He noted the three and a half years of discussions, including a twelve hour discussion chaired by Shama. He slammed the previous Finance Chairman Akunis for holding up the bill for political reasons. He expressed his pride in the bill.

Speaker Rivlin praised Tibi for the bill.

Appropriations Committee Chairman Gafni asked Speaker Rivlin if the rest of the Knesset’s agenda could be pushed off to the next day because of the late hour. He noted that the apparent unprecedented political trick could be discussed the next day as well, but the rush to finish the long agenda before the Knesset dissolves itself is pointless.

Speaker Rivlin said the drama that is unfolding is not official and there is still a chance it will fall apart before anything is announced or signed. He noted that the bill calling for early elections had been approved in the committee without any objections for its second and third readings. He said that the agenda’s important bills should be pushed through just in case early elections are called at the last minute.

Amendment to the Israel Defense Forces Pensions Bill

Deputy Finance Minister Cohen (Shas) explained the amendment would increase the pensions for the military. He said that there will be retroactive aspects of the bill as far back as 2008, and families of deceased veterans will receive the retroactive benefits.

MK Eichler (U.T.J.) praised the bill. He called for increasing military benefits and turning the military into a volunteer army, freeing the military from taking every citizen. He slammed journalist Yoram London for his statement that Israel should reduce the ultra-orthodox Jewish population in Israel. He asked what would have happened in Europe if someone said that against the Muslim population. He slammed Kadima for joining the government in order to continue incitement against the ultra-orthodox.

MK Regev (Likud) supported the bill and called it justice for the 40,000 soldier families. She said that Eichler’s speech has nothing to do with this bill. She stressed the importance of ultra-orthodox and non-Jews serving the country.

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

Speaker Rivlin announced that the government and the coalition have agreed to pull most of the bills left on the day’s agenda. He said the MKs who chose not to pull their bills will be given the chance to present it to the plenum for a vote. He said that the Knesset’s early election bill was sent back for a revision, and since there is no date dictated on when to discuss the bill, he will end the session after the bills left on the agenda are finished being presented.

Amendment to the Banking Bill

MK Eichler announced the amendment is a customer service bill that forces the bank to send a bank fee transaction list to each customer every six months. He added that the bill will prohibit writing bank fees in smaller font than the rest of the piece of paper.

The bill passed its second reading 17-0.

The bill passed its third reading 16-0.

Amendment to the Israel Lands Authority Bill

MK Eichler explained the amendment will increase the transparency of the authority by requiring them to upload decisions to their official internet page.

The bill passed its second reading 15-0.

The bill passed its third reading 15-0.

MK Khenin thanked the Knesset for approving another one of his self-described revolutionary bills. He noted that 99% of the authority’s decisions have not been publicized anywhere.

Speaker Rivlin announced that the rest of the bills had been withdrawn. He said that the Knesset will reconvene in 13 hours at 4 PM.

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

Official protocol in Hebrew: http://www.knesset.gov.il/plenum/data/02187112.doc

The Knesset’s Wednesday session lasted about seven hours. Fourteen bills were discussed. One bill became law after passing its third reading, and two bills were advanced after passing their preliminary readings. One bill was turned into a motion, two bills were not brought to a vote in order to avoid defeat and eight bills were defeated. The day was filled with election fever as the opposition proposed bills with little chance of advancing.

 

Non-Bills Summary

 

  • Deputy Health Minister Litzman (U.T.J.) and Interior Minister Yishai (Shas) answered urgent queries at the beginning of the session.
  • Speaker Rivlin greeted the visiting European Parliament members.
  • Five motions were discussed on the hot news issues of the week. Three were sent to committee by the votes of 10-2, 9-0 and 6-1. The other two motions were defeated 6-6 and 2-3.

 

Bills Summary

 

Amendment to the Defamation Bill

MK Eichler (U.T.J.) slammed Likud and Liberman for trying to call early elections and their attempts to raise the threshold. He explained his amendment would add belonging to a social group under the Defamation Bill.  Eichler pulled the bill before voting in order to avoid defeat.

Amendment to the Consumer Protection Bill

MK Yoel Hasson (Kadima) explained his amendment would prohibit conditional commitment transactions for a fixed period of time. He said that this bill targets gym memberships that severely harm consumer protection. He told the gyms that this bill would force them to give monthly rates as opposed to yearly rates and will increase competition.

Minister Nahari (Shas) expressed government support for the bill.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 23-0 and was sent to the Education, Culture and Sport Committee.

Amendment to the Planning and Building Bill

MK Michaeli (Shas) explained his amendment would prohibit the demolition or the change of a structure of religious importance. He stressed the importance of prohibiting the rezoning of religious buildings such as synagogues to maintain their holiness. He talked about a synagogue in Tel Aviv that was built in 1920 and a person who recently bought it and knocked it down to build high-rise residential buildings. He asked how the Jewish state could allow Jewish structures to be demolished under Israeli law.

Interior Minister Yishai (Shas) expressed government support for what he called a very important bill that would match Israeli law with most western countries. He warned that those who vote against this bill would be voting against religious rights.

MK Horowitz (Meretz) opposed the bill and charged this is a bill that will give Shas the power to prevent the destruction of any building they decide is a religious building. He called this bill extortion and illogical. He suggested this bill would also apply to Judea and Samaria. He stated the current law must be upheld.

 

MK Michaeli said election fever has turned the most logical bills into political ammunition. He stressed that this bill won’t be applied to Judea and Samaria. He noted this bill will protect churches and mosques as well and he couldn’t understand how this is Shas extortion.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 49-13 and was sent to the Interior Committee.

Two Amendments to the Social Security Bill

MK Herzog (Labor) explained his amendment would give those sexually assaulted at work social security payment benefits equal to those injured at work. He said that sexual assault is equal to if not worse than physical injuries and women should receive the same benefits.

MK Gal-On (Meretz) explained her similar amendment would accomplish the same thing. She said that women don’t come forward about sexual assault because they don’t want to lose their job and this bill will encourage them to do so.

Labor and Welfare Minister Kahlon (Likud) said that those who are sexually assaulted at work should be protected and the law does protect them as it does all sexually assaulted women. He stated that those physically injured during their course of employment are entitled to different benefits and there is no reason to mix the two. He said that the government opposes the bill because this is something that already exists, and this bill is purely politically motivated.

MK Gal-On said that these bills are meant to increase the money given to sexually assaulted women in order to encourage them to report the incident to the proper authorities.

The first bill was defeated 21-31.

The second bill was defeated 19-31.

Two Amendments to the Value Added Tax Bill

MK Molla (Kadima) said there are many poor people in Israel, and it is the government’s responsibility to take care of them. He explained his amendment would place a zero rate tax on basic food products. He said he feels Israel needs to become a welfare state and that he isn’t embarrassed by that view. He stated that he isn’t a communist, but he isn’t a capitalist either.

MK Horowitz said that indirect taxes are bad and his party is against all of them, including VAT. He said indirect taxes are discriminatory against the poor and help the rich. He said that as a proud socialist he feels that tax exemptions on basic food items are the government’s responsibility, as is strong government supervision. He said the disparity between the high cost of living and the low salaries is unbearable. He slammed the capitalistic economic policy of the government.

Deputy Finance Minister Cohen (Shas) said that indirect taxes like the VAT are an equal tax on both the rich and the poor. He said that all items have a VAT, and the beginning of VAT exemptions will open the floodgates, crashing the VAT system. He warned that this bill would cost 6 billion shekels each year, and the government opposes the bills for this reason.

MK Molla said that he isn’t looking to exempt everything from VAT but insisted that many items should be exempt.

The first bill was defeated 17-32.

The second bill was defeated 17-32.

Amendment to the Real Estate Tax Bill

MK Sheetrit (Kadima) said there are 146,000 empty “ghost” apartments in Israel that are owned by foreigners who don’t live in them. He said that his bill will encourage them to sell these apartments. He explained his amendment would eliminate the exemption from capital gains tax for nonresidents. He said that by doing this the apartments will no longer be a sound financial investment and they will sell their assets. He said there are 20,000 empty apartments in Tel Aviv, 14,000 in Haifa, 10,000 in Jerusalem, 1,720 in Be’er Sheva, 1,423 in Petah Tikva, 1,114  in Holon, 1,122 in Ramat Gan, 1,070 in Ashkelon, 958 in Tiberias and 902 Rishon Le’Tzion. He noted that in England the government takes away foreigners’ homes in London and sells them off. He noted this bill will increase taxes on foreigners by 3 billion shekels annually, and that money will be invested domestically. He slammed the government for opposing a bill that would lower prices in the housing market.

Deputy Finance Minister Cohen praised this bill as another financially smart Sheetrit bill from a previous Finance Minister. He said the government opposes the bill because it will cause Israel to violate certain signed international treaties and because it lacks exemptions for nonresidents who plan to immigrate to Israel in the future. He suggested turning the bill into a motion in order to discuss the idea more and to find loopholes that will provide a well-rounded solution.

MK Sheetrit thanked Cohen for supporting his bill and expressed understanding that Cohen is just the messenger. He insisted his bill is a quick solution that will lower the housing prices. He noted that the foreigners already have a VAT tax exemption and this real estate tax exemption is really just too much.

The bill was defeated 10-27.

MK Tirosh (Kadima) announced she voted twice by mistake (her place and MK Shai). Deputy Speaker Vaknin announced it was a mistake for the protocol.

Amendment to the Nazi Persecution Bill

MK Bielski (Kadima) explained his amendment would create a national authority to serve as a one stop shop for Holocaust survivors to ease the bureaucracy. He noted that 80 MKs co-sponsored his bill. He said that asking elderly Holocaust survivors to run from one government ministry office to another is unacceptable. He said that by opposing the bill the government is saying that they don’t care about fighting for Holocaust survivor rights.

Deputy Finance Minister Cohen said that all 120 MKs stand in unity for the Holocaust survivors and dismissed Bielski’s statements. He pointed out that Prime Minister Netanyahu founded a special office in the Prime Minister Office for Holocaust survivors that is led by Deputy Minister Nass (Likud). He said that office serves the Holocaust survivors very well and accomplishes much of what is asked from this bill. He went on to list the government accomplishments from that office for his final ten minutes.

MK Bielski charged the bill is being dropped because of politics. He screamed at Cohen and the government for three minutes.

Deputy Finance Minister Cohen said he was offended by Bielski’s words because he agrees with the ideas but rejects that the government is failing the survivors.

Minister Peled (Likud) got up and asked, as a Holocaust survivor, if the vote on the bill could be delayed. Bielski agreed.

Profiler Teacher in Education System Bill

MK Tirosh (Kadima) explained her original bill would regulate the rights of the ten to fifteen percent of students with learning disabilities. She said that currently the government is not involved and external tests determine which rights will be given to the students. She charged that certain people buy learning disability rights. She stated her bill would nationalize the learning disability tests and recommendations and prevent misuse of the system. She said that her system is not just about punishment and those who cannot afford to buy rights would get them under her system. She said the 4,000 schools can share resources, and this does not have to cost a lot of money.

Education Minister Sa’ar (Likud) said that Tirosh touched on a sensitive subject and he agrees with her diagnosis of the problem but not her solution. He added that he personally agreed with the bill but the government requested two months to examine the 400 million shekel budget of the bill. He noted that the only reason the government is asking the Knesset to defeat the bill is because Tirosh chose not to wait the two months. He said that his ministry’s budget will be 5 to 6 billion shekels, and it takes time to reduce the number by 400 million. He went on to the topic of politics and slammed the opposition for trying to delay early elections. He said that Israel’s opposition will be the only opposition to vote against early elections.

MK Tirosh said that arrogance is a difficult thing. She slammed the government for deciding to call early elections and force the public to vote when they don’t want to.

Deputy Speaker Vaknin (Shas) said that the Knesset should conduct a secret vote on early elections. He said the results would be 2-118 with Netanyahu and Liberman as the only two who would vote for.

The bill was defeated 6-21.

Amendment to the Public Housing Tenant Rights Bill

MK Solodkin (Kadima) explained the amendment would increase the number of single parent immigrant families eligible for public housing by having criteria that would be easier to attain.

Housing Minister Atias (Shas) said that Solodkin’s bill is discriminatory against Israelis. He said that immigrants aren’t immigrants forever, and he is against raising the ten year ceiling. He said that all citizens on the public housing waiting list starting next week will get NIS 3,000 a month towards rent without giving up their position in line. He said that his measure is social justice, and Solodkin’s bill is not.

MK Solodkin slammed Atias, pointing out that 3,000 people waiting in line with his ministry will get NIS 3,000, but the 50,000 people waiting on the Immigrant Ministry list will not. She said that she is done with the bill and will tell the immigrants to “Supreme Court” the government in order to get the job done.

The bill was defeated 6-14.

Motion/Amendment to the Arrangements Bill

MK Swaid (Hadash) explained his amendment would change the calculations for property tax reductions for tuitions in the municipalities. He said the change would increase city tax reductions for families that house their university students at home. He stated this bill would assist poor families that send their children to university. He agreed to turn the bill into a motion to avoid defeat.

The motion passed 6-0 and was sent to the Appropriations Committee.

Amendment to the Law and Administration Ordinance Bill

MK Katzeleh (N.U.) said that early elections are a waste of money and pointed out the country sent the MKs to the Knesset for at least 4 years. He stated even though he doesn’t like this government, the people want it to last longer. He noted the agreement with Jewish Home and the National Religious Party that would have them running with National Union in the next elections. He expressed confidence that a joint list will lead to a double digit showing in elections and the party will have a lot of influence in the next government. He went on to discuss his nationalist bill that he said will be defeated by the nationalist parties for a third time this term. He said this bill put in place Israeli law in the cities, Regional Councils and Local Councils of Judea and Samaria. He listed his bill’s 40 co-sponsors from Likud, Yisrael Beitenu and other parties. He said that 350,000 Jews live in Judea and Samaria under military rule. He went on to slam Prime Minister Netanyahu’s position on a Palestinian state as well as the building freeze in Judea and Samaria. He read out the names of the Likud Mayors in Judea and Samaria and their cities’ populations and told them to call their Likud MK friends to convince them to vote for this bill that will end their status as residents with full taxation without equal representation.

Justice Minister Neeman expressed government opposition to the bill because it did not reach the Ministerial Committee of Legislative Affairs.

MK Katzeleh said it was not even worth responding to Neeman.

The bill was defeated 4-14.

Amendment to the Income Tax Ordinance Bill

Labor, Welfare and Health Committee Chairman Haim Katz (Likud) explained the amendment would change the regulations on provident funds (Kupot Gemel). He spent about twelve minutes explaining the incredibly long and financially complex bill.

The bill passed its second reading 13-0.

The bill passed its third reading 13-0.

 

________________________________________________________________

This was the Knesset Jeremy English translation protocol of the Knesset’s May 2, 2012, session.

Official protocol in Hebrew: http://www.knesset.gov.il/plenum/data/02072712.doc

The latest Panels Polling Company poll conducted for Knesset Channel 99 on May 17th 2012 and broadcast on the same day.

If elections were held today who would you vote for?

Current Knesset seats in [brackets]
30 [27] Likud
20 [08] Labor
17 [---] Yesh Atid (Lapid)
12 [15] Yisrael Beitenu
06 [04] National Union
06 [11] Shas
06 [03] Meretz
05 [05] Yahadut Hatorah/UTJ
04 [04] Hadash
03 [03] Jewish Home
03 [04] Ra’am-Ta’al
03 [03] Balad
03 [28] Kadima
02 [05] Independence
00 Am Shalem (Amsalem)

Globes poll conducted by Smith on 7-8 March 2012.

If elections were held today who would you vote for?

Current Knesset seats in [brackets]

31 [27] Likud
17 [08] Labor
13 [15] Yisrael Beitenu
11 [--] Yesh Atid (Lapid)
09 [28] Kadima
07 [11] Shas
05 [05] Yahadut Hatorah/UTJ
04 [03] Meretz
04 [05] Independence
03 [--] Tikun (Deri)
03 [04] National Union
03 [03] Jewish Home
10 [11] Hadash, Ra’am-Ta’al and Balad

The Best Solution for the Tal Law Problem

Internet based Panels Polling Company poll conducted and broadcast on Knesset Channel 99 on May 3 2012.

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

31 [27] Likud
17 [08] Labor
14 [15] Yisrael Beitenu
13 [---] Yesh Atid
09 [28] Kadima
05 [04] National Union
15 [19] Religious Parties: Shas, Yahadut Hatorah/UTJ and Jewish Home
16 [14] Left and Arab Parties: Meretz, Hadash, Ra’am-Ta’al and Balad
00 [05] Independence

Likud 31, Labor 16, Kadima led by Mofaz with Livni as #2 13, Yesh Atid 11

Likud 30, Labor 17, Yesh Atid 11, New Livni Party 9, Kadima led by Mofaz 5

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