The Knesset’s Wednesday session lasted about six and a half hours. Eight bills were discussed. Five bills were advanced after passing their preliminary readings, one bill was withdrawn to prevent defeat, and two bills were defeated. MK Orlev’s “Outpost Bill” was defeated 22-69 with 29 MKs not present. The 18 coalition MKs who voted against the government position marked the highest number of rebel MKs against the government position since the government was formed back in 2009. MK Katzeleh chose to delay the vote on his outpost bill following Orlev’s defeat. Netanyahu’s senior coalition partners Kadima and Yisrael Beitenu argued over whether the Damaged from Birth Compensation Bill had government support or not, resulting in screaming between the two sides.
• Labor and Welfare Minister Kahlon (Likud), Hasbara Minister Edelstein (Likud) and Homeland Security Minister Aharonovitch (Y.B.) answered urgent queries at the beginning of the session. • Nine motions were discussed on a wide variety of different topics. Seven motions were sent to committee after the following votes: 13-0, 10-0, 4-1, 8-0, 6-0, 6-0 and 2-0. One motion was defeated 1-2, and one motion was not voted on.
Amendment to the Wireless Telegraphy Ordinance Bill
MK Pinyan (Likud) explained his amendment would lower local radio broadcasting fees. He said it is unfair that local radio stations pay the same rate as national radio stations and this unfair situation must be corrected. He expressed hope this will help the existing struggling local radio stations and encourage more stations to start broadcasting.
Communications Minister Kahlon (Likud) 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 prepare the bill for its first reading.
Amendment to the Encouraging Strengthening Buildings against Earthquakes Bill
MK Cohen (Shas) explained his amendment would give tax breaks for the destruction of apartment buildings that would not survive an earthquake and cannot be fixed. He said the tax breaks would make it worthwhile to knock down these buildings and house the families in temporary housing until the new apartment is reconstructed.
Deputy Finance Minister Cohen (Shas) expressed government support for the bill but stressed that it would not take effect until 2013 at the earliest.
The bill passed its preliminary reading 31-0 and was sent to the Interior Committee.
Amendment to the Mandatory Tenders Bill
MK Khenin (Hadash) explained his amendment would prohibit government tender committees from contacting people who have been found guilty by a court of law of discriminating against certain people or groups. He said the government should not be hiring or talking to people who discriminate against people because of gender, race or any other reason. He agreed to withdraw his bill and postpone the vote on it expressing hope that the government will change their mind and support it at a later date.
Amendment to the House Redemption Bill
MK Gilon (Meretz) said that the settlement in Judea and Samaria was an old sin of the Labor party and must be corrected. He said that his argument is not with the settlers but with Prime Ministers Eshkol, Begin, Peres and others who put them there. He said that we must be fair with the residents of Judea and Samaria because they were sent there. He slammed the large amount of government money spent on settlements. He noted that David Ben-Gurion warned that settlements would become a big problem. He explained his amendment would allow these residents who live on the “wrong” side of the security fence to evacuate their homes, be compensated financially and be found new housing. Speaker Rivlin noted that he is talking about the most ideological settlers and that not one settler would accept that choice if presented with the option.
Minister Begin (Likud) said the settlement enterprise is alive and well. He noted that at the end of 2012 there will be 360,000 residents in Judea and Samaria, we will reach 400,000 in 2015-2016, and we will exceed 500,000 residents by 2020. He praised Meretz for making progress and accepting the settlement blocks. He agreed that certain residents want to leave and that some do leave, but that natural growth is occurring in virtually all settlements. He expressed his own personal opposition and the government’s opposition to the bill.
MK Gilon thanked Begin for correcting him on numbers and facts. He responded that Meretz does not believe in the settlement blocks but expected if his bill was written along government policy lines it would have a better chance of getting approved. He said that he loves Israel so much that he is willing to give up a large part of it. He stressed that this bill is not meant to determine that the security fence will be Israel’s new border.
The bill was defeated 10-65.
Protection of Land Held in Judea and Samaria Bill
MK Orlev (J.H.) noted that eight years ago today (June 6th) Prime Minister Sharon decided on his Disengagement Plan and today the Knesset will decide on yet another Disengagement. He asked those who oppose the bill if they realize that it is not about five buildings but about government policy towards all buildings that are in similar legal limbo. He slammed the excuse that the Hague international court should have any weight because the Hague is against all settlements. He noted a similar case where the Hague sided with Cyprus. He explained his bill will give a just solution to both Jews and Arabs, where all sides win. He asked the government if their policy is settlement or anti-settlement and suggested this vote will answer that. He asked why building up Beit El needs to come hand in hand with destroying the Ulpana and asked why Netanyahu could not have built up Beit El beforehand. He recalled the Likud ministers who messed up on a previous June 6th and reminded them they promised they would never mess up like that again. He slammed the Likud for trying to divorce the national religious and their long standing alliance that stood from 1976 until now. He warned Likud they are enabling leftist groups to use this case as legal precedent to evict 70,000 Jews from their homes in Judea and Samaria. He slammed Netanyahu for calling on two states for two people and a building freeze that accomplished nothing. He said this bill proves that Prime Minister Netanyahu is still Defense Minister Barak’s soldier and not the other way around. He said that the national religious will not nominate Prime Minister Netanyahu for re-election to his premiership and instead will run together as a strong party to replace him. He warned Netanyahu that a joint National Union – Jewish Home party will get 12 seats because today will be the day the national religious leave the Likud. He slammed Netanyahu for preferring Mofaz and Kadima over his natural partners. He warned that defeating this bill will be the first crack in the coalition because he will ask his faction to leave the coalition over this. He called on the ministers to vote their conscience and not listen to Netanyahu.
Minister Begin said that the Jewish people’s right to their homeland is eternal and undeniable. He said that we are raising a deeply rooted third generation in the three settlement blocks of Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley. He said that although we want to, we cannot live on every hilltop. MK Ben Ari (N.U.) heckled and was thrown out; Begin responded that the noise reminds him of Noah’s ark. He said that the 1979 Elon Moreh court decision that settlements should be on state land and not private Palestinian land is important and must be upheld. He said that this bill is not an unconstitutional Supreme Court bypass bill, stressing it is rather an attempt at solving the disagreements between the legislative and judicial branches of government on a particular issue. He stated the executive branch must follow the Supreme Court’s decisions even if they do not agree with them. He said another problem with the bill is that it would apply to the Palestinians and not the Jews in Judea and Samaria. He also rejected those who said this will help Judea and Samaria, stating this will harm the settlement enterprise more than it will help it. He warned that other nations would not approve of this bill. He said that this is a nonsense bill because the government and the right are on the same side. He also rejected that other settlements will be removed because of the falling of the Ulpana bill. He recalled his meeting the previous day with State Comptroller Committee Chairman Ariel (N.U.) that lasted two hours and thirty minutes where they tried to find the truth. He said when faced between two evils, one should choose the lesser evil. He said he has gotten two main messages from Likud voters: some said support this bill and follow your father’s way, while others said support this bill and don’t follow your father’s way.
Environment Minister Erdan (Likud) charged that Orlev is using the Ulpana residents for political profit and is lying to them. He told Orlev whoever parallels the disengagement to this bill is using people for political motives. He stated Netanyahu wants to strengthen the settlements and not weaken them. He told Orlev that he recalled the disengagement vote and who helped the cause and who didn’t. He told Orlev that the two of them know the real truth on how things went down and he has some nerve to say what he just said in his previous speech. He said that he and the government support the Supreme Court even if they don’t agree with them.
MK Orlev said he agrees in principle with Begin but disagrees with his methodology. He said that the battle is not over five houses but over 90,000 residents. He asked Begin to pick up the glove and support the bill since he agrees to take away the retroactive aspect of the bill. He warned Begin and the Likud that today will be remembered as the day they ended the settlement enterprise in Judea and Samaria. He said that he remembers what day Erdan is talking about and reminded him that Erdan does not have interest in talking about that day any more than Orlev does. He told the government to bring their own solution or their own bill. He noted Levi Eshkol proposed the 1954 bill that was passed by the leftist government that accomplished the same thing between Jews and Arabs in Israel’s pre-1967 borders that this bill would do. He told his friends in the national religious camp that even if we lose this battle we cannot miss the lesson that we cannot listen to those who make false promises. He called on the MKs to vote their consciences and not listen to Netanyahu.
The bill was defeated 22-69.
The 22 MKs who voted for Outpost Bill:
Likud 9 – Elkin, Akunis, Danon, Hotovely, H. Katz, Levin, Pinyan, Regev and Rivlin. Shas 6 – Azoulay, Amsellem, Vaknin, Zeev, A. Cohen and Avraham Michaeli. NU 4 – Katzeleh, Ariel, Eldad and Ben Ari. UTJ 1 – Eichler YB 1 – Rotem JH 1 – Orlev
Likud 7- Edelstein, Gamliel, Y. Katz, Nass, Peled, Kara and Shalom YB 6 – Landau, Matalon, Anastassia Michaeli, Miller, Kirshenbaum and Shemtov Shas 5 – Atias, Yishai, Y. Cohen, Margi and Nahari. Kadima 3- Zellner, Shamalov Berkovich and Schneller. UTJ 2- Litzman and Moses JH 2- Hershkowitz and Orbach 4 Arabs The rest voted against the bill.
MK Katzeleh (N.U.) decided to withdraw his similar bill from the agenda to avoid defeat.
Damaged from Birth Compensation Bill
MK Sheetrit (Kadima) explained his amendment is a social justice bill that is co-sponsored by 20 MKs. He said that 2.3% of babies are born with a birth defect and the current system of suing the doctors who might have caused the birth defect takes a lot of money and lasts between 7-10 years. He noted physicians’ insurance premiums rose from 10.9 million shekels in 1991 to 41.9 million shekels because of malpractice suits. He said that doctors advise on abortion during risky pregnancies when it is known there is a high chance for a birth defect and 4,000-5,000 abortions are done each year because of fear of malpractice. He said that his amendment will abolish civil suits on birth defect law suits and distribute the 41.9 million shekels to every baby born with a birth defect.
MK Levi-Abekasis (Y.B.) opposed the bill on the grounds that it will harm the rights of the unborn children. She said when someone who goes through all of the right steps and the doctor screws up, that doctor should pay. She expressed government opposition to the bill because the Yisrael Beitenu party appealed the original government support. She told Sheetrit to postpone his bill for a week or oppose his own bill. She slammed the bill and asked how the government can take away the basic right of a person to sue someone who did something wrong to them. She asked Sheetrit why he is protecting bad doctors.
The bill passed its preliminary reading 16-9-1 and was sent to the Health Committee.
MKs Sheetrit and Levi-Abekasis screamed at each other after the vote for several minutes before Deputy Speaker Edery (Kadima) regained silence.
Amendment to the Prevention of Infiltration Bill
MK Bibi (Kadima) explained his amendment would force the government to take every illegal immigrant or infiltrator for identification purposes. He said we need the finger prints, DNA and photographs of all of these illegals so that we can charge them with crimes and keep them in jail. He said the illegal Africans that started coming in 2005 have topped 60,000. He noted that the Bedouins drive them from the Egyptian – Sudanese border all the way until 2 kilometers from the Israeli border. He said that these people do not walk across Africa, they are driven. He said that this is not just an African issue now because we are finding illegals from China and Turkey as well. He called on the government to finish the fence. He stressed the 160 KM fence is not long enough. He said we can create within a month a camp with 20,000 places for illegals. He noted the Geneva Convention states that refugee status is only given to people who cross one border, not two borders. He said there are only 3-4 legal refugees in Israel and all the others must be sent back in a humanitarian way. He said the OZ unit that deals with illegals only has 100 employees and its numbers must be increased. He slammed the government for making the Israeli tax payers fund the medical bills of these illegals. He said if these guys commit crimes we need to know who they are so we can put them away.
Deputy Prime Minister Ya’alon (Likud) expressed government support for the bill.
The bill passed its preliminary reading 12-1 and was sent to the Interior Committee.
Amendment to the Income Support Bill
MK Elkin (Likud) explained the amendment would eliminate the retroactive denial of income support due to visits abroad. He said that if someone exceeds the 72-day limit for being overseas they are retroactively not given their income support for the whole time they were away. He stated his bill would change the situation so that if someone is out of the country for 75 days, they will only be penalized for three days. He said this bill will cost five million shekels annually.
Labor and Welfare Minister Kahlon expressed government support for the bill.
The bill passed its preliminary reading 15-0 and was sent to the Welfare Committee. ________________________________________________________________
This was the Knesset Jeremy English translation protocol of the Knesset’s June 6, 2012, session.
Official protocol in Hebrew: http://www.knesset.gov.il/plenum/data/02754112.doc