Tuesday saw the opposition’s filibuster fail followed by one minute speeches that mostly discussed the Eliantz French school system. Netanyahu was forced to sit through the MKs’ speeches and gave one of his own. Following the drama the Knesset discussed a motion on the connection between cell phones and cancer.

Filibuster of the Deficit Reduction Bill

18 MKs combined forces for a 12-hour filibuster, with representation from all six opposition parties: Kadima (Shitrit, Shai, Zoaretz, Pelsner, Mula and Yoel Hasson), National Union (Ketzeleh, Ariel, Eldad and Ben-Ari), Chadash (Barakeh, Swead, Chanin and Agbaraia), Meretz (Oron and Gilon), Ra’am-Ta’al (Tibi) and Balad (Zachalka). MK Ben-Ari’s hour and a half speech was by far the longest. Ministers Eitan (Likud), Steinetz (Likud), Landau (Y.B.) and MK Gafni took turns criticizing the tactic.

Here are a few summaries so you can get a feeling of what went on.

MK Gafni explained that the bill would put a new spending limit on the budget. The bill proposes an annual growth rate of taxes to a little over 2% overall, a rise from the current 1.7%. Gafni explained it was needed for Israel to pay its loans and get out of its deficit.

MK Baron (Kadima) warned this would endanger the Knesset’s authority and make the opposition less relevant. He went as far as saying this could cause financial collapse.

MK Oron said that this bill would hurt the economy for years to come.

MK Barkeh charged the ones who would pay the extra 0.3-0.4% would be the poor. He said his party would vote against the capitalistic bill that helps the rich.

The opposition made a decision after 5 AM to end the filibuster and vote based on the number of coalition vs. opposition MKs in the room.

The bill narrowly passed in its second reading thanks to Netanyahu who had been hiding in his office and came in to vote for the bill. The third reading was a roll call, which gave the coalition MKs time to come into the room.  The bill passed in its third reading 51-31.

One Minute Speeches

After a recess of over eight hours 22 MKs chose to give one minute speeches.

Nine of the 22 MKs chose to discuss the Eliantz schools. MK Bensimon (Labor), MK Ben-Ari (N.U.), MK Avraham-Balila (Kadima), MK Tirosh (Kadima), MK Ketzeleh (N.U.), MK Bielski (Kadima), MK Zoaretz (Kadima), MK Ze’ev (Shas) and MK Levi-Abukasis (Y.B.) all talked about the Eliantz French school program that was being honored and recalled their own personal experiences with the school.  Many MKs gave lengthy portions of their speech in French.

MK Levin (Likud) asked the government to work against the Supreme Court order opening up the 443 highway to Palestinian traffic, while MK Magadla (Labor) and MK Zachalka (Balad) talked in favor of the 443 Supreme Court decision.

MK Wilf (Labor) and MK Ganem (Ra’am-Ta’al) discussed the decline of the Israeli education system. MK Gilon (Meretz) spoke in sign language in honor of Hearing Disability Day. MK Adato (Kadima) demanded the Health Ministry add the 65 Million NIS that the Supreme Court ordered be set aside for pharmaceuticals. MK Eldad (N.U.) criticized the building freeze in the settlements and Jerusalem. MK Amar (Y.B.) talked about the many deaths in traffic accidents this month. MK Shai (Kadima) stated that 50% of Israelis do not have gas masks. MK Pelsner (Kadima) discussed issues he has with the bi-annual budget. MK Shama (Likud) criticized the government’s decision to raise the minimum required down payment on mortgages to 40%.

Motion on “the government represents the interests of coalition members rather than serve the interests of state residents”.

MK Boim (Kadima) accused Netanyahu of being a failure in every aspect of government and as a liar regarding every campaign promise he made.

MK Pelsner (Kadima) talked about leadership. He talked of Ben-Gurion, Begin and Sharon. He accused Netanyahu of not being a true leader and of giving in to the Chareidim.

MK Okunis (Likud) accused Tzipi Livni of giving in to commentator Yair Lapid’s criticism of Kadima and attacking the Chareidim every chance she had. Okunis reminded the Knesset the amount of money Kadima gave the chareidim in 2006.

MK Rotem (Y.B.) said that the 74 MKs in the coalition represent the majority of the Israeli people and there is nothing Kadima can say about that. He suggested Kadima learn from their mistakes and support the Israeli government just as the opposition supported Kadima during the Second Lebanese war in 2006 and the Gaza war in 2009. Rotem warned of the dangers Israel would face if they are not united.

MK Vaknin (Shas) blasted Kadima for blaming all of Israel’s problems on the Chareidim. He reminded Kadima that they gave him more money than Likud.

MK Moses (U.T.J.) blasted Kadima for being an anti-Chareidi party. He then criticized the new government law in which a person must pay a 40% down payment in order to get a mortgage.

MK Ganem (Ra’am-Ta’al) slammed the new law that takes away certain privileges from Hamas prisoners until Shalit is released.

MK Ben-Ari (N.U.) talked about how Jerusalem Day turned from a national holiday to a national religious one.

MK Swed (Hadash) slammed Netanyahu’s capitalistic economy and called for a communist government that would be for all citizens, not just Jews.

MK Horovitz (Meretz) praised J-Street and asked Netanyahu to take a hint from them and listen to President Obama.

MK Orbach (U.T.J.) asked Netanyahu to do more for the education of Arabs in eastern Jerusalem.

MK Zachalka (Balad) wondered what Netanyahu’s end game was for the peace process.

MK Yoel Hasson (Kadima) took out fake paper money with Bibi’s face on it and started to throw it on the floor from the Knesset podium. Other Kadima MKs also held up the fake money from their seats. Speaker Rivlin threw Hasson out of the room and forbid him from entering for Netanyahu’s speech.

Coalition Chairman MK Elkin (Likud) disclosed that the Chareidim begged him for half of what Kadima gave them in the previous government. Elkin said that Netanyahu said no, so Kadima should look at themselves in the mirror.

Discussion with Prime-Minister by power of 40 MKs’ Signatures

Netanyahu: We should stand united in the challenges Israel faces from the outside, whether it be the peace process with the Arabs or America.

Livni: The problems Israel faces are from the inside, not the outside. She charged Netanyahu of bribing his coalition partners in order to create a corrupt government that gives money to Chareidim and other interest groups. Livni stated that the only reason everyone is in the coalition is because they think that Netanyahu is lying to everyone else and they are the only ones who know the truth.

The Knesset accepted Netanyahu’s words by a 41-26 vote.

Motion on the connection between cell phones and cancer

MK Cohen (Shas) suggested Israel create a non-political study on the matter.

MK Amar (Y.B.) talked about two studies, one that said it is dangerous to live next to antennae and a second that said it was safer.

MK Maklev (U.T.J.) criticized Israelis who buy multiple cell phones and said because of the frequency of usage, we don’t need a study, we’ll know the results soon enough.

MK Shama (Likud) urged that the fact that our children are using cell phones should make us deal with the situation sooner, rather than later.

Communications Minister Kachalon (Likud) agreed with these four MKs on the urgency of the issue. The minister said he believed that more antennae would cause less radiation because the travel of the radio waves would be shorter. He agreed that a study should be performed to get to the bottom of the situation. Kachalon said he feels that there is no connection between cell phones and cancer.

MK Magadla (Labor) suggested the matter be brought to a committee.

The Knesset voted 7-0 and the motion was transferred to the Interior Committee.

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