The short session of 2 hours and 40 minutes could be summarized like this: 26 one minute speeches, along with a vote on one summary and one bill. Most of the one minute speeches seemed to be extensions of yesterday’s topics. MKs Ariel and Eldad’s (N.U.) allegations against Defense Minister Ehud Barak (Labor) was the only topic that could be considered news. You really can’t expect more from an agenda of 3 topics; by comparison, tomorrow 37 topics will be discussed.

One Minute Speeches

The most popular issues discussed by the 26 speakers were the Holyland affair, the destruction of illegal homes in Tibeh and the Druze riots. MK Bielski (Kadima) was the first to criticize the political corruption of the Holyland affair. MK Ezra (Kadima) joined the Holyland bashing as well. MK Finyain (Likud) bashed Holyland, then surprised everyone by speaking very sharply against the government’s Wisconsin plan as well. MK Yachomovitz (Labor) spoke in support of MK Finyain’s rant against the government in regards to both Wisconsin and Holyland. MK Chanin (Chadash) criticized the destruction of illegal homes in Tibeh. Chanin also announced his support of the protests by the Druze community over the new gas line that has begun to be constructed in their area. MK Zoabi (Balad) and MK Tibi (Ra’am-Ta’al) condemned the destruction of all illegal Arab homes in Israel. MK Walhaba (Kadima) demanded that the government fix the situation with the Druze and the gas pipe. MK Levin (Likud) questioned why Israel destroys every illegal Jewish home while, despite this week’s evictions, thousands of illegal Arab homes remain.

Many domestic issues were addressed. MK Ariel was surprised that Defense Minister Barak allegedly engaged in political blackmail by securing votes for his laws in return for assistance on the Givat Hayoel neighborhood issue. He labeled Barak’s attempts “Political Prostitution” and questioned the democratic integrity of such a move. MK Eldad said he had encountered the same issue today in a separate committee. He blasted Barak for his alleged blackmail and also attacked former prime-minister Olmert for his role in the Holyland affair, calling the corruption “Prime-Minister Size”. MK Mula (Kadima) talked about racial issues against the Ethiopians in the education systems of Emenual, Bet Shemesh and Be’er Sheva. MK Bensimon (Labor) admitted that Israel screwed up the absorption of Ethiopians, citing the Kiryat Melachi affair during which the city refused to absorb any Ethiopians into the city and they remained outside the city limits for a shabbat. Bensimon asked us to do better with today’s education issue. MK Magadleh (Labor) discussed violence in schools. MK Cabel (Labor) mentioned a few issues with the Milium bill. MK Ganem (Ra’am-Ta’al) talked about the status of the education in the Arab sector, while MK Orbach (J.H.) chose to talk about the status of the religious public schools. MK Wilf (Labor) read another letter supporting her fight for stronger protection of teachers at the expense of students. MK Amsalam (Shas) condemned both Gazit and Huldai for their incitement against charedim. MK Ben Ari (N.U.) taught us from Parshat Hashevuah Behar that we should apply the balance of capitalism (free trade) and socialism (yovel).

Only six MKs chose to discuss foreign affairs. MK Regev (Likud) warned of the danger Hizbolah poses now that they are receiving weapons via Iran. MK Ketzeleh (N.U.) suggested a commission by הצג סקריפט אנגלי the State Comptroller about the situation in Lebanon. MK Peretz (Labor) talked about the need to strengthen the relationships with the leaders of France and Italy. MK Shai (Kadima) suggested upgrading the talks with the Palestinians to direct talk status. MK Tirosh (Kadima) stated that Gilad Shalit is waiting for his release and we need to find a way to release him. MK Smelov-Berkovitz (Kadima) proposed that Israel should host more international festivals in order to improve our international standing, citing one that was held recently that did just that.

Vote on the summaries from the State Comptroller Report

MK Yoel Chason (Kadima), Chairman of the State Control Committee, was very pleased that in 98% of the cases the criticized parties agreed to take responsibility and change things for the better. Chason also criticized the government for torpedoing most of the committee’s reforms. 6 Kadima MKs (Walhaba, Schneller, Mula, Shai, Ezra and Tirosh) spoke in favor of Chason and his summaries. MK Chanin (Chadash) praised Chason and the report specifically in regards to public transportation and the train to Jerusalem. MK Eldad (N.U.) supported the State Comptroller; trash talked Kadima, and reminded everyone how Olmert trashed the State Comptroller throughout his administration. MK Ze’ev (Shas) confessed that in most cases the government wants to implement the decisions but lacks the budget to do so. The summary was passed by the MKs in the room 8-0.

Vote on the State Economic Arrangements Bill

The bill submitted by MK Hanegbi (Kadima) would reduce municipal taxes on residential property used by mentally challenged people. MK Ze’ev (Shas) said this was a good first step, but we should go further and give more rights to mentally challenged people. The bill easily passed 11-0 in its first reading.

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