Knesset Day 3:

Wednesday is almost always the busiest day in Knesset. This week the plenary session lasted almost seven hours. MK Ahmed Tibi’s stubbornness, resulting in his forced removal from the podium, once again made the biggest headline of the day.

Minister of Internal Security Aharonovitz (Y.B.) answered two shailtot.

MK Uri Ariel (N.U.) questioned the police’s involvement with the recent wave of Arabs attacking civilians in Jerusalem’s Silawon neighborhood, particularly on Independence Day. He also requested that the police allow the traditional flag dance around the walls of the old city on Jerusalem Day. Minister Aharonovitz updated Ariel on the status of the arrests of the Arab suspects. He also stated the police have not yet made a decision on the Jerusalem Day issue, while expressing Jews are allowed to walk anywhere they want in Jerusalem as long as they are not putting their lives in danger. MK Azulai (Shas) questioned the investigation of police officers suspected of corruption. The minister responded that he would not make a statement on an ongoing internal investigation.

Minister of the Interior Eli Yishai (Shas) answered two shailtot as well.

MK Chanin (Chadash) questioned the appointment of the former Be’er Sheva mayor as new mayor of Ramat Chovav without a tender. Yishai assured Chanin that every appointment he makes is done within the bounds of the law. MK Zachalka (Balad) questioned the approval of orders prohibiting certain Israeli Arabs from leaving the country. The minister responded that the defense establishment had convinced him to sign the orders.

The Knesset took an hour to vote on four bills today, passing three in their preliminary reading and defeating one.

The vote on MK Amnon Cohen’s (Shas) Antitrust Bill was criticized by Minister of Industry and Trade Ben Eliezer (Labor) as being too capitalistic. The government sided against the bill, but allowed freedom of voting which assisted in the bill passing 39 to 2.

MK Carmel Shamah’s (Likud) “The Lawyers Bar Association Bill” would give the Tel Aviv district more representation in the Bar Association at the cost of the Negev and the Galil. MK Oron (Meretz) slammed the lobbyist bill, which would give the district more power beyond the 63% it already holds. MK Bar-On (Kadima), a lawyer, warned this was an attempted Tel Aviv hostile takeover of the Bar Association. The bill passed despite the objections by a margin of 35 for, 9 against and 1 abstaining, sending the bill to the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee.

The National Health Insurance Bill submitted by MK Adato (Kadima) was endorsed by Deputy Health Minister Litzman (UTJ) and passed 59 to 0. The bill was transferred to the Labor and Social Affairs and Health Committee.

The Nazi war veteran’s bill was submitted by MK Solodokin (Kadima), who warned that those who vote against the bill are immoral people. She also blasted Bet Shemesh mayor Abutbul for being apathetic to holocaust survivors’ rights.  Deputy Finance Minister Yitzchak Cohen (Shas) elaborated the government position against the bill, claiming we don’t have the millions of shekels needed in the budget to pass a bill of this magnitude. The bill was defeated with a vote of 27 for, 39 against.

10 Motions (proposals on the agenda) were discussed. Seven of them went to relevant committees, two were defeated and one wasn’t brought up for a vote.

Activities of the New Israel Fund

MK Smalov-Berkovitz (Kadima) started off the proposal by slamming the NIF as working against the security establishment. She concluded by reciting the mishaberach prayer for solders. MK Miller (Y.B.) was saddened that taxpayers are funding elements that are endangering them. MK Ketzeleh (N.U.) used this motion as an opportunity to express disappointment with MK Eitan Cabel’s words against him the day before where Cabel labeled him an “anti-Zionist”. Ketzeleh went on to quote mission statements off many NGO websites funded by the NIF that were anti Zionistic. He closed by comparing former MK Naomi Chazzan to Goldstone. MK Levin (Likud) said he genuinely believes the left are trying to help, but in reality they are hurting the State of Israel. He blasted MK Zachalka, who interrupted his speech by asking him if he also interrupted the members of the Libyan parliament, then proceeded to suggest Zachalka fly back there and he’d find someone to sell the Arab MK’s house personally. MK Maklev (UTJ) quoted from the Torah that Hashem forgave us for chet haegel but not for chet hameraglim. Following the quotes, Maklev compared the NIF to the meragalim. MK Horovitz (Meretz) called the motion a witch hunt. He was the lone defender of former MK Chazzan.

Minister Erdan (Likud) started by saying the NIF should take some responsibility and stop endangering Israel’s future. Claiming the NIF defends freedom of expression, they should respect the freedom of expression of those who attack the fund at an equal level. Speaker Rivlin opened the motion to further debate after many MKs asked him to do so. MK Chenin (Chadash) asked the government to learn more about the good elements of the NIF. MK Mullah (Kadima) demanded that each of the 700 NGOs also be investigated, and that the government shouldn’t just pick on the NIF. MK Ze’ev (Shas) questioned why there are investigations into charity associations but not political organizations like the NIF? MKs Gilon (Meretz) and Zo-Aretz (Kadima) defended the NIF, while MK Yachomovitz (Labor) exposed that one of the NIF’s NGOs supplies MK Aryeh Eldad info on Knesset committee meetings. MK Orbach (J.H.) closed the debate by saying it is healthy for the left in Israel to be criticized from time to time. The motion of sending the matter to the relevant committee was defeated by a vote of 12 for and 17 against.

Knesset members visiting Libya and Tibi’s forced removal.

MK Bareka (Chadash) started the motion by asking why he is allowed to visit Auschwitz but not Libya? He labeled MK Ben-Ari a Nazi from the Knesset podium for attempting to remove his MK immunity as a result of the trip. MK Zachalka (Balad) called the MKs criticizing him cowards. Deputy Speaker Shama (Likud) informed the MKs they did not help their contingents by visiting Libya and that it is not what they were elected for. MK Matlon (Y.B.) reminded the audience that during the elections his party said the Arabs are not loyal to the State and that this visit proves the point. Matlon warned the Arab MKs they are causing more harm than good for their voters. MK Asana (Ra’am-Ta’al) stressed the Arab MKs are part of the Arab world and should be allowed to visit Arab countries. MK Ze’ev (Shas) said the argument is not why the MKs left, but why they came back. He added that the Knesset should add Libya to the list of enemy states.

MK Tibi (Ra’am-Ta’al) highlighted the debate. He started by thanking Kadafi for inviting the Arab MKs and proceeded to claim Israel is more isolated than Libya. Tibi followed his remarks by entering an argument with Deputy Speaker Shamah (Likud), which ended when two security guards forcefully took him off the podium. Tibi had requested a final statement after going three times over his time limit. After the forced removal, which made headlines and a funny youtube clip, MK Ariel (N.U.) recited “Baruch sh-patarnu me-onsho shel zeh”. Ariel called for suspending Tibi from his deputy speaker position until the matter is raised in the Knesset ethics committee. MK Orlev (J.H.) went further assuring he would work hard so that the MKs who visited Libya are disqualified from running in the next elections. Minister Erdan (Likud) summarized the debate by saying, “I felt the Libya visit was a satire show. You embarrassed yourselves more than anything else.” The Knesset passed a motion 15 votes for to 4 against for the matter to be discussed further in the Committee of Foreign and Defense Affairs.

The difficult situation of the city of Sderot after the Ministry of Interior cut 40% of its budget

The MK who filed the motion asked when the change had been made from “development” towns to “suburban” towns? MK Levi-Abuksis (Y.B.) blasted the ministry for forgetting the residents of Sderot so quickly. MK Ben-Simon (Labor) was saddened there was more screaming and passion on the NIF and Libya than over Sderot. Former Sderot mayor MK Peretz (Labor) accused the ministry of lowering the budget because there are fewer rockets landing in Sderot these days. MK Cabel (Labor) reinforced Peretz’s words against the government decision. Minister of the Interior Yishai (Shas) laughed it off as a game, claiming when Kadima were in the coalition they voted against giving Sderot more money, and now that they are in the opposition they are suddenly for Sderot residents. The 9 MKs present voted for sending the discussion to the Knesset Interior Committee.

Right’s March in Silwan

MK Zuabi (Balad) charged the motive of the march was to take over east Jerusalem with more Jewish presence. MK Swead (Chadash) remarked that nothing surprises him anymore, then posed the question: “Can Arabs do a protest in Ramot?” Answering his own question: “The police would not allow it to happen. It is a pity they allowed the march in Silwan.” MK Chenin (Chadash) warned that this is a recipe for disaster and demanded the government kick out all the Jews currently living in Jerusalem’s Silwan neighborhood. Minister Aharnovitz (Y.B.) admitted he originally postponed the march for a month, but he wasn’t planning on postponing it forever. The motion was defeated 5 for, 8 against.

Bank of Israel Report

MK Oron (Meretz) warned that Stanley Fisher, Governor of the Bank of Israel, doesn’t agree with the government on everything, and that the matter should be discussed in the finance committee. MKs Peretz (Labor), Cohen (Shas) and Chenin (Chadash) all spoke in favor of the motion. The 11 MKs present voted for the motion and it was sent to committee.

The` Armenian Genocide

MK Oron (Meretz) asked that the State of Israel formally recognize the Armenian genocide. MKs Chanin (Chadash), Cabel (Labor), Wilf (Labor), Horovitz (Meretz) and Orbach (J.H.) all talked in favor of the motion. MK Tebayev (Kadima) informed everyone he was born in the area and therefore should be taken seriously. He said it was a complicated situation that the international historical community has yet to recognize and questioned why Israel should be the first country to do so. MK Eliatov (Y.B.) agreed it was not Israel’s business and we should stay out of this issue. MK Michaeli (Y.B.) echoed that Israel shouldn’t get caught up in a historically complicated issue. Minister Erdan (Likud) defended the government position claiming it was an issue between Turkey and Armenia. He added that the two countries should work the matter out without Israel taking sides. Speaker Rivlin (Likud) slammed the government position and said it was a disgrace that a matter that happened a hundred years ago would not be recognized because of nonsense. 12 voted for the motion, with 8 voting against and 1 who chose to abstain. The motion will be discussed further in the House Committee.

Education in Arab Society

MK Zoabi (Balad) was disappointed by Minister of Education Sa’ar’s (Likud) answer that there were many problems, but they can’t and won’t be solved tomorrow. Sa’ar assured he would work hard on making changes over time. The 8 MKs present voted for sending the motion to the Education Committee

Need to study the appropriate lessons and prepare assessments for Mt. Meron this Lag B’omer

MK Moses (UTJ) labeled last year’s Lag B’omer as a crazy mess. MK Azulai (Shas) called the issue a national interest. Minister of Religious Matters Margi (Shas) expressed this year the government has made changes for improvement, assuring next year will be even better. He thanked the tourist minister for helping him on the matter, citing the budget has grown over the past 8 years from 800,000 to 7 million NIS for Mt. Meron mainly because it is the second most popular site for religious visitors, after the Kotel. Tourist Minister Stas Misznikov (Y.B.) shocked everybody when he said even though he was secular, he was glad to have the privilege to give more money for this issue.

Closing the Old City of Jerusalem to vehicles, including reaching the Western Wall

MK Amsalem (Shas) demanded the government repeal these new laws. Minister Attias (Shas) suggested they discuss the matter in the Interior committee, and the 7 MKs present voted for the motion.

Schedule an Election in Beyarka

MK Amar (Y.B.) demanded Minister Yishai return to the Knesset, because he brought the Village Council from 3 hours away for the important discussion. Yishai refused to come back. Minister Attias (Shas) listened to Amar’s speech and informed Beyarka they will have to wait until the next scheduled election. MK Ben Ari (N.U.) sided with Amar and the 4 MKs present voted for sending it to interior committee for further discussion.