One-Minute Speeches

On the second day back at the Knesset the main topic was the trip taken by six Arab MKs from the three leading Arab parties to Libya. It took over an hour to get past the one-minute-speech segment of the day. Most of the 21 speakers focused on the Kadafi initiative, which caused most of the interruptions and delays.

MK Danny Danon (Likud) started by asking if the Arab MKs were elected to go to Libya? MK Gideon Ezra (Kadima) stated that he doesn’t blame Kadafi for inviting the six Knesset members, but he does blame the six for going. He added that Abu Mazen has a more positive outlook of Israel than the Arab MKs. Amir Peretz (Labor) added that Abu-Mazen’s Channel 2 interview this week illustrates that we do have a partner in peace. MK Miri Regev (Likud) ridiculed the Arab MK’s, saying they were acting like excited little children.  Then she slammed Ezra and Peretz’s comments claiming that Abu-Mazen is not a partner, as he is boycotting all Israeli products in the West Bank. Ketzeleh (National Union) said he was not worried about Kadafi or Israeli Arabs. Stating figures that over the last 62 years the Jewish population grew from 600,000 to 6,000,000. He also expressed that in the future, the religious and the charedim will be the majority of that population. Ben-Ari would later add that Arab MKs always talk about equality of all citizens, and then asked where the equality stands with the Arabs of Libya under Kadafi. Ben-Ari mocked MK Taleb Asana for telling radio commentator Razi Barkai that Kadafi was elected by the people of Libya.

MK Taleb Asana (Ra’am Ta’al) countered that if Israelis are allowed to visit Morocco, Arabs should be able to visit Libya. He claimed that they are not the enemy, and that in fact Israel is its own worst enemy. Speaker Rivlin reminded everyone that Libya is not formally an enemy state, although he himself would be arrested if he set foot there. MK Ahmed Tibi (Ra’am Ta’al) responded to Danon’s claim that he is a non respectable MK by saying that his positions are well known. Tibi assured the audience that he says the same things in Arabic as he says them in Hebrew and that he’d visit any country that invited him. He also admitted that he did not submit a request in writing to the ethics committee to authorize the trip, but that the Libyan foreign minister had dealt with the situation appropriately.

Another big topic was radio personality Gabi Gazit demanding the state stop providing electricity, water and garbage facilities to the charedim all over Israel. MK Orbach (Jewish Home) was outraged that the issue was not exposed on any major news outlet, while MK Moses (UTJ) said he was deeply offended by Gazit’s charge that the charedi MK’s should go back to Brookyln.

Other items discussed were MK Bielsky (Kadima) citing safety concerns on the toll road route 6 which has caused 37 deaths since its inception. MK Chenin (Chadash) asked the government to pay the price and free Gilad Shalit. MK Gilon (Meretz) rallied people to a protest in Haifa’s northern suburbs for Handicap rights. MK Adato (Kadima) suggested that the handing out of Teudat Zehut should be done as an official high school ceremony. MK Tibi (Ra’am-Ta’al) discussed Israeli arabs being humiliated in Ben-Gurion by racial profiling. Wilf (Labor) read a teacher’s letter to defend herself against many letters she had received against her position on changing laws against students and protecting teachers.  MK Nafa (Balad) and Amar (Yisrael Beytanu) brought up the fact that for the first time druze women are protesting against unemployment and for jobs. MK’s Michaeli and Levi-Abuksis (Both Y.B.) discussed International Health day. Abuksis talked about a new law that would label all medicine bottles, in place of inserted papers. Michaeli spoke against the health ministry policy of discouraging pregnancy of women over 35 years of age. MK Eldad (National Union) exposed a corrupt Tel Aviv high school principal who has a political blog on the school’s website and gives out free parking passes to people willing to join him on Machsom Watch buses. MK Ben-Ari (National Union) gave a dvar torah with the lesson being that Bar Kochva teaches us there are things worth dying for. Speaker Rivlin was upset about being in a difficult position where he had to end the dvar torah short, since it was longer than a minute.

Herzl Day 2: Zionism in the year 2010

Only 13 of the MKs chose to talk about Herzl and define Zionism for today’s age. MK Hutabeli (Likud) quoted Rav Kook’s eulogy of Herzl. MK Miller (Y.B.) talked about his aliya experience and his home in Ariel and attacked the Arab MKs who visited Libya. MKs Ezra and Mullah (Both Kadima) told us that Zionism is not religion or settlements, it is building in the Negev and the Galil. MK Ben-Simon (Labor) posed the question what would Herzl say if he lived today? He then asked, who would he vote for? MK Wilf (Labor) stated that the challenge is to redefine Zionism and warned that we have a lot of work ahead of us.

MK Cabel (Labor) read out the definition of Zionism from various sources. He equated Zionism with love. The MK also declared that settlements are Anti-Zionistic. MK Gilon (Meretz) defined Zionism as morality. He expressed that his parents’ generation are disappointed with Israel today and questioned what we would leave for our children. MK Oron (Meretz) traded insults on the danger of right-wing Zionism and said that he and Meretz are the true Zionists. The 4 National Union MK’s were attacked from Meretz, Labor and Kadima during the entire discussion. MK Ariel (NU) remined the audience that Zionism comes from the word Zion, Jerusalem. Ketzeleh (NU) said he was disappointed by the charedim and reform Jews who rejected Herzl. Ben-Ari (NU) told us that he has always defended Herzl’s honor and that building the third temple is the end game of religious Zionism. Eldad (NU) pondered if the Knesset should discontinue Herzl day next year due to the infighting it caused today.

Mitchell Visit

On the left MK Gilon (Meretz) asked the government to do more for peace. The MK requested that Israel should go straight to the negotiating table for final status agreements. On the right MK Ben-Ari (NU) warned us that Bibi is not two faced, but three faced. He added that Obama wants to throw Bibi off the throne of the premiership. Following these words he accused Bibi of forbidding the traditional flag dancing around the city walls on Jerusalem day due to American pressure.

Minister Michael Eitan (Likud) appeased both MK’s.  He told Meretz that the government wanted to talk, but the Palestinians had preconditions to the negotiations. He agreed with the National Union that the Palestinians are saying nice things in Hebrew while inciting violence in Arabic. Eitan reminded everyone that Olmert had extreme views and the Palestinians said that was not enough. “We have to be realistic, yet careful” he warned. The 5 MKs in the room voted for discussing the matter further in the committee of foreign and defense affairs.

Pending destruction of Klien and Peretz’s homes

The last discussion of the less than 3 and half hour plenary session had three MKs from three different parties demanding that the Givat Hayoel neighborhood in Eli, the home of two fallen IDF senior officers, not be dismantled.

MK Danon (Likud) criticized the Sasson report, which he says was not ordered by any Israeli government, yet Peace Now demands the state follow it to the letter. He claimed that most of Bet Shemesh was built before there was authorization. MK Eldad (NU) wondered why illegal construction is always a Jewish thing but never an Arab thing. MK Orbach (JH) stated that destroying war heroes’ homes is a disgrace.

Minister Eitan (Likud) responded that the government has not yet made a formal decision on the issue. He gave examples of Elazar and Rechalim as settlements which recently had neighborhoods become authorized outposts and said the MK’s shouldn’t worry about Eli. The 5 MK’s present voted for further discussion in the Knesset when the government does make its decision.

Other Notes:

  • MK Adato (Kadima) reported on her week-long delegation to India and Nepal. She reported that the electoral power of 200 million Indian Muslims is great.
  • The Knesset was delayed by 10 minutes due to technical difficulties with the sound equipment.