Today’s session that went a little over 4 hours focused on the two motions of no-confidence in the government on the topics of Charadi and Arab education. A bill was passed and two ministers answered queries. Homeland Security Minister Aharonovitch (Y.B.) had 23 to answer for compared to Agriculture Minister Simchon (Labor) who had just five.

Two Motions of no-confidence

First motion of no confidence on behalf of Kadima on the topic of “Netanyahu government’s perpetuation of a record-breaking state education gap between secular and orthodox education and keeps silent in front of the polarization, differentiation due to rising violence in society only desire to survive at any cost”. (It didn’t make sense in Hebrew either.)

MK Tirosh (Kadima) complained about the high budget given to the charedi sector. She warned of an upcoming demographic war with charedim and cited statistics that charedim will take over the country. She maintained controlling their education is the only way to modernize them.

Education Minister Sa’ar (Education) questioned the hypocrisy of MK Tirosh who carried out the very policy she is criticizing from 2001-2005 as director of the education ministry and from 2006-2009 as a coalition Kadima MK in the Education Committee. Sa’ar charged that Kadima started this mess with passing the very laws it accused the Likud of following and it is weird to try and bring down the government on something that clearly isn’t its fault.  MK Tirosh was thrown out of the room for disturbing the minister’s response. The minister stated that there were no magic answers, but there are plans his ministry is working on, and they will be publicized shortly.

Second motion of no confidence on behalf of the Arab parties- Ra’am-Ta’al, Hadash and Balad- on the topic of “the continuing discrimination against the Arab population in the country in education and employment.”

MK Ganem (Ra’am-Ta’al) slammed the government’s treatment of Arabs and questioned the democratic state of the country, both in regards to education and employment in the Arab sector. He lectured that democracy is not about money, it is about people.

Minister of Minority Affairs Braverman (Labor) remarked that there are things that are being done, but agreed they weren’t enough. He pledged to come up with new plans that will do more for the Arab public’s need for employment and education.

Discussion on the two motions

MK Mula (Kadima) criticized charedi society as a whole. MK Amar (Y.B.), a druze, defended the government. MK Bensimon (Labor) blamed the charedi leadership for today’s situation. MK Ze’ev (Shas) questioned the loyalty of Arabs to the state, especially MK Ganem who publicly supports Iran. MK Gafni (U.T.J.) listed the amount of laws he passed in Labor and Kadima governments. Gafni confessed he doesn’t try to pass as many laws during a Likud administration because they are harder to pass into law with the left in the opposition. MK Tibi (Ra’am-Ta’al) went on a rant calling all Israelis racist. MK Ariel (N.U.) suggested Kadima give the Likud a hug instead of voting on a useless no-confidence motion that would surely fail. Ariel said he looks forward to chol hamoed sukkot when the settlement freeze ends. Ariel questioned how certain members of the government could stay silent with the Jerusalem freeze that started in December. MK Chanin (Chadash) wondered if Bibi broke the record for most parties (including coalition parties) that did not believe him or in him. MK Horovitz (Meretz) talked in support of Kadima’s motion. MK Orbach (U.T.J.) blasted his liberal friends for supporting the wishes of the Arabs but criticizing the wishes of the charedim. MK Chutobeli (Likud) said the government has done a lot, and will do more in the charedi education matters.

Kadima’s no-confidence motion was defeated 29-49-1, with 41 MKs not present. The second no-confidence motion fell 24-51, with 45 MKs not voting.

Vote on Amendment to Life Financial Services Control Bill

Agriculture Minister Simchon’s (Labor) amendment would reduce the number of people that would profit from the bill. MK Oron (Meretz) said he objected to parts of the bill but would vote in favor. MK Ben-Ari (N.U.) chose to talk about Jerusalem Day and how few people today care about it. MK Eldad (N.U.) chose to talk about the Jerusalem housing freeze.

The bill was passed in its first reading 21-0 and will be sent to the Committee on Labor, Social Affairs and Health.

Queries to Agriculture Minister Simchon (Labor)

The minister answered MK Finin’s (Likud) query on the lack of funding for neutering cats. The minister agreed it was a problem, and assured he would work on budgeting for this important issue.

Four other queries went to the protocol because the MKs were not present for the minister’s response.

Queries to Homeland Security Minister Aharonovitch (Y.B.)

The Minister answered 11 of the 23 queries, while the rest went straight to the protocol.

The minister answered MK Ben-Ari’s query on why the police uses more force on religious people and settlers during protests than they do on seculars (bikers, for instance). The minister disclosed details about the specific protest that was discussed in the query and rejected the general claim that the police show favoritism. MK Ben-Ari asked why the police are punishing protesters when it is only their duty to arrest them. The minister expressed that in each case the commanding officer has his own considerations, and the minister can’t compare two cases effectively.

MK Ben-Ari’s second query was on the Arab protest in Lod where MKs called for the destruction of the State of Israel. The minister defended that there were no laws broken during the protest. MK Ben-Ari said he has video evidence and police testimony that shows otherwise. The minister agreed to watch the tape.

MK Ben-Ari’s third query was on the subject of sentences given to individuals who injure public officials. The MK questioned why the man who threw a shoe at the Supreme Court Justice had an indictment within a day, while the woman who injured him was never indicted. The minister corrected that the woman received two indictments; they just came at a later time. The MK criticized the minister for not updating him on the progress of the investigation and that it took a query on the Knesset floor to get real answers. The minister chose not to respond further.

MK Ben-Ari’s fourth query was on the incitement of violence on the temple mount. The minister defended the police who chose not to involve themselves in a very delicate sensitive matter. MK Ben-Ari questioned why rabbis are held to a different standard than imams. The minister said he would look into the specific situation discussed.

The minister answered MK Azulai’s (Shas) query on the current crime wave in Tel Aviv by the illegal African refugee population. The minister quoted many statistics that the number of cases opened by the police has decreased over the last year and therefore there is no crime wave in Tel Aviv.

MK Azulai’s second query was on the subject of over 160 files opened up against elected officials from 2007-2009. MK Eldad laughed that half of those were against Olmert. The minister said he didn’t know how many of the files were closed, but many never reached trial for different reasons.

MK Azulai’s third query was on the conditions of the Migrash Harusim jail in Jerusalem. The minister answered that in 2007 the jail was transferred from the police to the prison authority and currently has a capacity of 314 prisoners. A third of the cells were renovated in 2009, and more plans are on the way.

The minister answered MK Chotobeli’s query on the destruction of a shul in Nachliel. The minister reported that the torah and books were removed before the shul was destroyed. The MK accused the minister of not following the rules passed by the justice committee regarding the evacuation of outposts. The minister said he was aware of the laws, and not to worry.

The minister answered MK Vaknin’s (Shas) query about the increase of neo-nazi activity in Haifa. Recently, three people were arrested in two separate incidents. The minister cited the number of cases opened in the last five years, as follows: 2005- 2, 2006- 1, 2007- 23, 2008- 1, 2009- 8.

The minister answered MK Ariel’s query about the limitations of the traditional walk around the walls on Jerusalem Day. The minister said the march of 1,500-2,000 citizens needs the protection of 200 policemen. The limitations were also placed because of the vandalism that has transpired in past years. The minister added that the Lions Gate must be kept open for traffic for ambulances, and therefore the route had to be adjusted.

The minister answered MK Eldad’s query on the disruption of Jewish prayers in Jaffa. The minister said that the police are heavily involved in the case and that the MK shouldn’t worry. The MK replied that those who pray Shabbat morning and get hosed inside their shul by Arab neighbors should be the ones the minister addresses that to.

12 other queries went to the protocol because the MKs were not present for the minister’s response.

Other Notes:

The Knesset voted 46-0 in favor of transferring an internal matter from the Knesset house committee to a relevant committee.