Monday’s session went all night thanks to an opposition filibuster, but I’ll get into that with my next post. The two highlights of the day were MK Nisim Ze’ev’s U.N. “hasbara” and MK Bensimon’s allegations connecting assassinated Minister Ze’evi to assassinated former Prime Minister Rabin. On Monday the Knesset defeated two no confidence motions and passed three bills, two of them in their third readings. The two new laws extend the life of the army radio station for another year and enhance bank security for transactions involving large amounts of money.

Israel’s hasbara problem is well known, both internally and externally. Netanyahu went as far as creating a new ministry and appointing a close aide, Yuli Edelstein as the first Minister of Information and Diaspora, dealing with that exact purpose. It is unusual that a coalition MK would bring up such a sensitive issue during a no confidence vote, but that independence is something MK Nisim Ze’ev from Shas routinely demonstrates. Ze’ev was shocked when he learned that a United Nations high level official of twenty years had never heard of Israel’s biblical claim to Judea and Samaria. Elsa Stamatopoulou from Greece is Chief Secretariat of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in the Division of Social Policy and Development as part of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs centered in the United Nations Headquarters. In a three page letter to Stamatopolou MK Ze’ev set the record straight including the usage of quotes from Israel’s bill of independence and other U.N. sources.  Apparently, the only message that Israeli hasbara members overseas bring up in the U.N. is to do strictly with security and not our biblical claim to the land, and this hurts us in many U.N. committees. I’d like to ask my loyal readers their opinion on this subject.

MK Bensimon was a respected journalist before he joined the Knesset as a member of Labor. It is going to be very difficult for people to respect him now after his speech during the no confidence vote, accusing assassinated Tourism Minister Ra’achavam Ze’evi of indirectly causing the assassination of Rabin. To give you some background, Rabin formed a minority government in 1992 with 58 seats between three parties (Labor, Meretz and Shas). The only way the government survived was through support from Arab opposition members. Ze’evi questioned the legality of a government that was not supported by a coalition of 61 MKs. MK Bensimon’s accusation today was that Ze’evi’s words influenced Yigal Shamir, who assassinated Rabin. This was the first accusation of this magnitude directed at Ze’evi and honestly seems like quite a stretch, directed to a former Minister and General who was also assassinated for his political beliefs.

No Confidence Motions

1) Kadima’s No Confidence Motion on the subject “the government’s intention to create an army learning center city in the Negev without giving priority to southern contractors and discriminating against prioritizing Israeli products without insisting on a worthy compensation package to the southern contractors and Israeli industry, in which preferring non-Israeli contractors and products, without giving proper compensation.”

MK Yisrael Chason (Kadima) complained that the government doesn’t do anything for the Galil. He also criticized the government for rushing the project in the Negev, saying they will do a good job in ten years instead of an excellent job in twenty years.

Minister Peled (Likud) was surprised that Chason talked about the Galil. Peled talked about how he helped the former SLA (Southern Lebanese Army), which Israel absorbed in 2000. Peled said the government has helped the Negev and the Galil plenty. The minister defended the new army city and the goal to complete the work as soon as possible. He expressed that in the long run it will help the Negev and questioned why Kadima would want to delay the project for ten years.

2) Joint No Confidence by Balad, Ra’am-Ta’al and Chadash on the subject “erosion of democracy in the shadow of an anti-democratic right-wing government”.

MK Agbaria (Chadash) criticized the election advertisements last year as racist against Arabs. He condemned the Israeli public for electing the right-wing parties. Agbaria questioned what the difference was between those parties and European anti-Jew parties? He also criticized the attempt to revoke the immunity of the Arab MKs who visited Libya and the destruction of Arab homes. Agbaria slammed the discrimination against all minorities including Ethiopians and Chareidim. He blasted all the Zionistic parties and praised his party’s platform of communism.

Minister Yishai (Shas) said he supported demolishing all illegal homes, not just Arab ones. He suggested Arabs try to legalize their homes as soon as possible. The minister said there was no country in the world that allowed minorities to legalize their illegal homes. He said we are forgiving, but we must keep the law.

Party Discussion and Vote

MK Mula (Kadima) blasted the fact that none of the 39 Ministers or Deputy Ministers were in the room. Speaker Rivlin allowed Mula to speak freely for the few minutes until a minister entered the room. Mula asked how the government could say that the army city is in the best interest of the Negev’s residents if they are going to hire Thai workers.

MK Rotem (Y.B.) slammed MK Agbaria for not staying to hear his response. He said that Agbaria was the one who was undemocratic. He asked what MK Agbaria considers racist about Yisrael Beitaynu’s proposal that citizens take an oath to the state they live in. Rotem explained that most of the Israeli Arabs are loyal to the State and criticized the Arab MKs of representing the Palestians instead of the Israeli Arabs who elected them. He said that every loyal Israeli Arab is a welcome citizen. Rotem concluded that Agbaria should be ashamed of calling Israel racist and undemocratic because there is no Arab country that would allow him to deliver such a speech against their government.

MK Ze’ev (Shas) condemned MK Zuabi (Balad) for traveling to be a part of the “Gaza Supply Ship” scandal. He asked MK Agbaria how he can preach democracy when he visits the undemocratic Kadafi in Libya. Ze’ev said we have a problem with our “hasbara”, citing issues within the U.N. where long term officials have no idea Judea and Samaria are a part of our biblical heritage. Below is a link to the letter,  just copy and paste in a new window to view.

MK Ganem (Ra’am-Ta’al) said democracy is when a citizen is allowed to criticize his country without threat of having his citizenship revoked.

MK Ketzeleh (N.U.) suggested Israelis support the products that are being boycotted by the Palestinians and Israeli Arab communities, and blasted Netanyahu for not doing anything on the subject. He also criticized the government for not acting to stop the infiltrators from Sudan. Ketzeleh said that Eilat’s mayor cried to him that his city is no longer a Jewish city; it’s now a Muslim one. He warned that Tel Aviv will soon share Eilat’s fate.

MK Barakeh (Chadash) criticized the arrest of two political leaders of the Israeli Arab public on the count of treason. He called for the end of the “occupation”.

MK Oron (Meretz) slammed the attempt to revoke the immunity of the six Arab MKs who visited Libya. He likened the current issues with the Arab MKs to a time when he didn’t agree with one word of former MK Tzvi Hendel, but he never tried to have Hendel’s immunity revoked.

MK Orbach (U.T.J.) agreed with MK Oron that there was no reason to revoke the MKs immunity, but he criticized everyone who denied Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish country, calling them traitors.

MK Bensimon (Labor) accused former Minister Ra’achavam Ze’evi of killing former Prime Minister Rabin by questioning the legitimacy of Rabin’s government, which had fewer than 61 MKs but survived due to Arab MKs who supported the government from the opposition. He criticized MK Orbach for calling the Arab MKs traitors, and Orbach started defending himself. Deputy Speaker Vaknin (Shas) tried to restore order.

MK Zachalka (Balad) condemned the attempt to revoke Arab MKs immunity, calling it undemocratic.

MK Maklev (U.T.J.) criticized the discrimination against Chareidi society by the government offices and police.

MK Elkin (Likud) spoke in place of MK Tzipi Hotovely, who came late. Elkin argued if former MK Kahanah can be considered a traitor and have his immunity revoked, so can Israeli Arab MKs.

Kadima’s No Confidence motion was defeated 32-52 and the Arab MK motion was defeated 28-55.

Gali Tzahal Bill: Radio broadcasts of the Israel Defense Forces – Amendment.

MK Okinus (Likud) suggested extending the radio station Gali Tzahal for another year. He expressed hope that it will be extended again in the future.

The vote passed 54-2-1 in its second reading and 43-2 in its third reading.

Securities Bill Amendment

MK Gafni (U.T.J.) explained the bill would enhance bank security for large sums of money.

The bill passed 45-0-1 in its second reading and 44-0-1 in its third.

Israel‘s Heritage Authority Bill

Culture Minister Livnat (Likud) explained the need to keep Jewish heritages such as Ladino and Yiddish as part of our country. The bill would create a museum and authority to govern it.

MK Mula was angered that the Ethiopian heritage is included in the bill instead of standing on its own.

MK Ze’ev said Jewish heritage is about Torah, not about a museum or a Mordechai Vananu or an Anat Kam.

MK Yoel Chason (Kadima) said that spending money on heritage museums is wrong, but he is willing to discuss the matter in the committee.

MK Shitrit (Kadima) asked how Livnat would pick which heritages would be in the museum and which would be left out.

MK Amnon Cohen (Shas) charged that Livnat stole his bill.

MK Itzick (Kadima) congratulated Livnat’s bill.

MK Walhebe (Kadima) said that the Druze heritage bill fell because of money.

The Knesset voted in favor 35-0 in its first reading and was sent to the House committee.