Archive for June, 2010

Fewer than three hours after the filibuster ended 17 MKs showed up to give one-minute speeches. The Knesset discussed six bills on Tuesday, passing all of them, including three in their third readings. The Knesset called it a day after an hour and forty minutes.

Ban on Splitting Prescriptions Bill

MK Cohen (Shas) explained that the bill he co-sponsored with MK Adato (Kadima) will bring some order to the pharmaceutical industry and solve complicated issues.

MK Ze’ev (Shas) agreed the current situation is not a good one, but suggested other changes that should be made instead.

MK Oron (Meretz) said this was an important bill and it should be advanced as soon as possible. He decided to discuss a different subject as well and suggested that the privatizing of medicine in Israel would be a dangerous thing.

The bill passed its first reading 11-0 and was sent to the Health Committee.

Mark the purpose of non-prescription drugs on the product’s packaging Bill

MK Levi-Abukasis (Y.B.) said this bill will force pharmaceutical companies to put the purpose of the non-prescription medication on the bottle, instead of the paper insert that people never read and throw out.

MK Ze’ev supported the bill and said it will help prevent pointless deaths. He chose to also talk about Shas’ position on the Emmanuel situation. Speaker Rivlin recalled that Nisim Ze’ev was the first elected Shas official, when he was elected Jerusalem’s deputy mayor, before the party had Knesset representation. Ze’ev explained that the Emmanuel situation is in Bnei Brak and Jerusalem too; therefore Emmanuel should not be taken too seriously.

The bill passed its first reading 11-0 and was sent to the Health Committee.

Amendment to the Witness Protection Bill

Chairman of the Interior Committee MK Azulai (Shas) explained that the amendments that were requested from the homeland security ministry will transfer subject matters of witness protection to closed door interior committee meetings of five members.

MK Ze’ev asked if the Interior Committee is the correct place for such matters. He also warned that testimonies in closed door meetings are not allowed in court.

The bill passed its first reading 8-0 and was sent to the Interior Committee.

Planning and Building Bill

MK Azulai explained this bill would shorten the bureaucracy for the planning phase of building and construction projects.

MK Ze’ev explained his objection to the bill. He warned this would hurt the neighbor’s right of appeal and 60 days is not long enough to write a proper objection. Ze’ev also condemned illegal construction of Arabs in particular.

Deputy Speaker Maklev (U.T.J.) convinced MK Ze’ev to withdraw his objection.

The bill passed its second and third readings 9-0.

Amendment to Continue TV Broadcasts of Local News Bill

MK Okunis (Likud) explained the amendment will extend the bill for a year and a half, which will allow Hot and Yes to broadcast their original local news until the end of 2011. Okunis said he hoped that the bill will be presented without the need for an extension in the future.

The bill passed 8-0 in its second reading and 7-0 in its third reading.

Amendment to the State Education Bill

Chairman of the Education Committee Orlev (J.H.) explained his bill would make political appointments easier in the two main religious education institutions and that their terms would be extended to five years instead of four years. The amendment would also allow these political appointments to be re-affirmed for additional terms. MK Orlev thanked his assistants and the committee assistants who helped him on the amendment (and who, thanks to the bill, will probably be promoted to new jobs in the education ministry).

The bill passed its second reading 7-0 and its third reading 6-0.

Monday’s session started with an hour and a half discussion that resulted in the government defeating the no-confidence motions 30-54 and 25-53. Following the passing in the first reading of a recycling bill, the opposition launched a filibuster that lasted almost 20 hours, finally ending at 13:07 the following day when the government passed the bi-annual budget 57-28.

Arranging Care Packages Bill

Environmental Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) explained that the bill will encourage Israeli industries to recycle by giving them financial incentives.

The bill passed its first reading 64-0 and was sent to the Finance Committee.

Bi-Annual Budget Bill

Funds Committee Chairman MK Gafni (U.T.J.) outlined the amendments to a number of bills that would allow the Knesset to pass the budget of 2011 and the budget of 2012 at the same time. The opposition responded in a twenty hour filibuster that ended when they threw in the towel later the next day. The government passed the bill with a big majority of 57-28, and the MKs took a nap until Tuesday’s session started.

Statement from Knesset Jeremy

Statement from Knesset Jeremy

This past week I accepted an internship for MK Yaakov Katz. The position does not entitle me to a salary and will expire at the end of the Knesset summer session on July 21st. I have given great thought as to how I can keep this blog active and have come up with what I think is the best solution possible. I will continue to blog on every bill that hits the Knesset floor, but will skip the motions, no-confidence motions, one minute speeches and queries. If something interesting does happen during those important parliamentary exercises, as it did during MK Zoabi’s flotilla speech, I will cover that as well. It saddens me that I will not be covering all of the Knesset’s activities, and I invite potential volunteers to join Knesset Jeremy and pick up the slack. That said, bills are the most important part of the Knesset, and this change will allow me to focus more time on them and give you, the readers, a proper analysis of the new laws that will affect you on a daily basis as well as potential future laws.  I want to thank my loyal readers for supporting this important blog, and I plan on updating you on last week’s bills tonight.

Thank you for your patience and understanding,

Jeremy Saltan

Knesset Jeremy Founder and Blogger

Wednesday’s session of less than 8 hours was jam packed. The Knesset discussed 10 of the 14 bills scheduled for the day. Five were passed in their preliminary readings, one was turned into a motion and four were withdrawn and placed in limbo, to join the four other bills that were not discussed. The Knesset discussed 11 of the 14 motions passing seven of them to other committees and defeating one. Three motions were not voted on and shared the fate of the other three motions that were not discussed. Four different ministers answered queries at different points in the session and an MK was thrown out of the plenum for sitting in Interior Minister Yishai’s chair.

Urgent Queries for Culture and Sport Minister Livnat (Likud)

MK Horovitz (Meretz) was not present and Speaker Rivlin read out his urgent query on the closing of the library and community centers in Kiryat Shemona. MK Shemtov (Y.B.) was forcibly thrown out of the plenum for sitting in Eli Yishai’s seat and refusing to leave. MK Orbach (J.H.) asked if the mayor can be penalized for not attending or sending a representative. MK Vaknin (Shas) asked why the library can’t be moved to a different public building, such as the Religious Council building. MK Miller (Y.B.) suggested that Livnat meet with the education and interior ministers and they solve this problem once and for all.

The minister answered that the community centers are part of the education ministry but she revealed that they are in a nine million shekel debt due to bad management. She said the library, which is in her jurisdiction, has a debt of over 100,000 shekels and therefore was closed. The library is also located in one of the community centers in debt, so the issue is complicated to resolve. Livnat added that the Mayor of Kiryat Shemona chose not to attend a special Education Committee meeting on resolving the issue. Livnat assured she would either bail out the library when the community center issue is resolved or she will find a new home for the library. She reminded the public that they can borrow books for free from all public libraries around the country. Livnat expressed frustration that she can’t punish local councils who misuse public money and hopes the citizens kick them out in the next elections.

Urgent Queries for Environment Minister Erdan (Likud)

MK Yoel Hasson (Kadima) asked about the decision to cancel plans for the Palmachim resort. MK Chanin (Chadash) expressed his support for Erdan’s decision.

The minister said he stands by his decision to cancel the plans for a resort and transfer the land to a green area with a public beach. Erdan said that the investors of the resort will be reimbursed for their troubles.

Amendment on the Consumer Protection Bill

MK Itzick (Kadima) explained that the amendment she co-sponsored with MK Okunis (Likud) will force companies to refund purchased goods at no extra cost in cases where the cancellation of the transaction occurs before the customer receives the goods purchased.

MK Okunis (Likud) called the amendment an American bill. He expressed hope this will slowly bring the country towards a full American returned goods policy.

Deputy Industry and Trade Minister Noked (Labor) supported the amendment that would allow a person to receive a full refund within 30 days of the purchase. She stressed that the amendment will not include people who ordered services and will only include goods purchased. Noked added that the government wants the MKs to hold up the bill in the Finance Committee for three months before it is brought up again for voting.

MK Cabel (Labor) accused MK Okunis of stealing his bill and blamed everyone for supporting his isolation of this bill. He said that that it is not acceptable and said that he is not whining for nothing. Cabel called for justice and demanded a meeting in the House Committee on the issue. He revealed that he was insulted by MK Okunis when they had a four-eye meeting on the subject.

MK Okunis defended the bill and said that the proposed amendment was first proposed by Ariel Sharon in twelve years ago and Cabel should stop whining.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 52-0 with MK Cabel abstaining and the bill was sent to the Finance Committee.

Amendment on the Elections to the Knesset Bill

MK Itzick explained the amendment would change the way polling committee members vote. The current law states that polling committee members are not allowed to vote in the polling station they are working at and must vote where they live. Most times this results in the committee members not voting because as part of their job they are not allowed to drive home and vote. The amendment will allow them to vote in the polling station that they are working at.

Bureaucracy Minister Eitan (Likud) expressed the government support for the bill that will raise the percentages of the voting in elections. He added that hopefully the elections will become electronic in the future and that will make it even easier. He said he disagreed with the other ministers in the government that are against this bill.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 48-0 and was sent to the House Committee.

Amendment on the Conditional Subsidies for Capital Investment in Research and Development Work Bill

MK Yachomovitz (Labor) said that the amendment will only give government subsidies to companies which follow the law. She expressed disgust that companies that don’t follow the law receive subsidies and that she needs to create a law in order to enforce the issue. She condemned Yisrael Beitaynu for objecting to the law and hinted that they are influenced by the mafia.

After noticing she did not have enough votes to pass the bill in the room, Yachomovitz opted to pull the bill and vote on it later this month.

The Pre-hospital Emergency Medical Care Bill

MK Eldad (N.U.) said this is an urgent life and death bill which has been sitting 29 years in the health ministry’s hands, and they have not done anything to advance it. The bill will define the differences between a medic and a paramedic within the law and will stipulate that more experienced medical personal go on school trips. Eldad said that the last four Knessets all failed to pass the bill and current ministers Erdan and Simchon are among the MKs who has sponsored the bill throughout the last few years.

After noticing he did not have enough votes to pass the bill in the room, Eldad opted to pull the bill and vote on it later this month.

The Modeling Industry Weight Limit Bill

MK Adato (Kadima) explained that the new bill she co-sponsored with MK Danon (Likud) will prevent the modeling industry from hiring anorexic girls and girls with eating disorders. Speaker Rivlin asked how there can be an industry of models. Adato explained this would discourage young girls from developing unhealthy eating habits that can kill them.

Deputy Minister Noked said that the bill will even forbid using photoshop on pictures to present skinnier models. Noked expressed government support on the bill. Speaker Rivlin warned that this would put all the MKs at a disadvantage since their pictures would have to reflect the way they actually look.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 47-0 with one abstention and was sent to the House Committee in order to determine which committee will advance the bill.

Amendment on the Equal Rights for People with Disabilities Bill

MK Gilon (Meretz) was pleased that the government is supporting the first bill he has proposed over the last year and half since he took his seat. He explained that the amendment will postpone the deadline requirement for disabled people who want to qualify for handicapped parking passes.

Justice Minister Neaman expressed government support for the bill.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 41-0 and was sent to the Labor Committee.

Amendment on the State Education Bill/Motion

MK Bielski (Kadima) explained that the amendment would have all schools give a series of classes on traffic education. He accused the government of only objecting to the bill because he is in the opposition.

Education Minister Saar (Likud) said that allowing the Knesset to determine what the school curriculum is by legislating laws is a very dangerous slippery slope. He said that he also objected to a bill that would force every school to have a trip to Jerusalem for the same reason. He suggested that education curriculum be left to the professionals to decide and leave it out of the Knesset’s hands.

After noticing he did not have enough support, MK Bielksi chose to change the bill into a motion which passed 63-1 and was sent to the Education Committee.

Amendment Communications Bill

MK Shitrit (Kadima) explained that the amendment would prohibit cell phone companies from blocking phones that have been paid for but whose owners changed cell phone companies. Shitrit noted that Israel is the only country that allows such an immoral thing. Shitrit said his amendment would also prevent the cell phone companies from blocking outside applications such as Skype. Shitrit added that he was disappointed that the government is against the bill.

Minister Kachalon (Likud) said that it is a worthy bill and he respects MK Shitrit. However the bill in its current form will complicate issues, such as making kosher phones illegal. Kachalon said that he is preparing a similar bill that will also cover television and internet companies.

The bill was defeated 21-45.

Amendment on the Motor Vehicle Insurance Ordinance Bill

MK Kirshenbaum (Y.B.) said the amendment would lower the mandatory insurance component of motorcycle rates to 8%.

Deputy Finance Minister Cohen (Shas) expressed the government’s support for the bill as long as it is delayed three months in the committee.

MK Ze’ev (Shas) objected to the bill that would encourage more people to use motorcycles.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 32-0 with MK Ze’ev abstaining. The bill was sent to the Finance Committee.

Amendment on the Local Authorities Bill

MK Azulai (Shas) explained his amendment would place a term limit on legal advisers and treasurers working for city councils. He said it is unacceptable that the mayor can be replaced but other high level officials receive lifetime jobs.

After noticing he did not have enough votes to pass the bill in the room, Azulai opted to pull the bill and vote on it later this month.

  • The four other bills that were supposed to be discussed were all pulled by their respective MKs. Amir Peretz’s amendment that would raise the minimum wage was among the four bills not discussed or voted upon.

Urgent Query to Deputy Finance Minister Cohen

MK Chanin asked if the State will benefit financially from the recent gas discoveries. He also asked if the company that discovered the gas deposits will cooperate with the government. Deputy Speaker Walhaba (Kadima) asked what the government will do from this becoming another matter that will strengthen the 19 families that control 49% of the country’s money.

The minister answered that anything is possible, that no decision has been made on the issue, and experts will be brought in to find solutions to the entire complicated situation.

Motion on the phenomenon of post-Zionism in the Israeli academia due to the results found in the report by the “Im Tirtzu” movement

MK Smalov-Berkovitz (Kadima) discussed the new sickness called “Palestinian-mania” where Israeli professors take post-Zionistic or anti-Zionistic stances and push pro-Palestinian agendas on to their students. The Im Tirtzu report explained that students were asked to follow news stories of legal cases against the military and in one case in Tel Aviv University; the professor took the students on frequent field trips with the left-wing “border watch” association and monitored soldier’s treatment of Palestinians at check points in Judea and Samaria. The report quotes one professor who routinely calls former Prime-Minister Ben-Gurion and other politicians’ names that include profanity and sick metaphors. The report illustrates the hundreds of professors who compare Judea and Samaria to a big waste of budget and the IDF as an occupying army that commits crime against humanity. Smalov-Berkovitz said she feared that if we don’t do anything to prevent it a generation of citizens who are being taught to hate the country will rise to power and erase the Jewish nature of Israel.

MK Amsalam (Shas) said that in a recent Education Committee meeting professors expressed hostility towards the IDF and signed petitions against soldiers serving in Judea and Samaria. Michael Gross, a professor from Ben-Gurion University, said openly in the committee that he and other department heads will not promote professors who are not liberal left-wing and they will not accept students who they know are openly right-wing. Gross added that high grades are only given to people who have acceptable political views. Amsalam said that it is unacceptable that the country budgets institutions that speak out against it and pay the salaries of people who wish to destroy it. He warned that if we don’t open up our eyes and do something now, it will be too late in the future.

MK Ariel (N.U.) said there are many Zionistic professors and the situation is probably 50-50 and not 10-90 as the other MKs predict. Ariel said that something must be done to prevent the anti-Zionists from becoming the majority.

Education Minister Sa’ar said he supported the motion and he plans to read the Im Tirtzu report. Sa’ar expressed the difficulty of maintaining freedom of expression when some professors have extreme views that are considered outside the bounds of legitimate public debate. He gave an example of an Israeli professor who is calling for an academic boycott of Israeli professors. Sa’ar said that the situation is unacceptable and something must be done against such people. Sa’ar agreed to take the issue seriously and monitor it very closely within the committee.

MK Chanin said he objected to the motion and called it a McCarthyism motion.

MK Ben-Ari (N.U.) said that as an academic and a professor he is disgusted by the leaders of Israeli academia today and hopes that something is done about changing that leadership.

The motion was passed 12-1 and sent to the Education Committee.

Deputy Speaker Walhaba controlled a debate that broke out between MK Chanin and the National Union MKs by calling Chanin to order twice.

Motion on the need to cease as soon as possible the teachers’ union strike before the phenomenon will be expanded to other sectors

MK Boim (Kadima) said he is against the upcoming strike but he does agree with all of their complaints. He demanded the education ministry pay teachers a higher salary in order to prevent the strike. He asked how a teacher of 20 years makes such a low salary of 7,000 shekels before taxes.

Minister Sa’ar said that he agrees with most of what MK Boim said. He feels for the teachers and is willing to make compromises that previous education ministers were not willing to do. He said that negotiations are going very well.

MK Ganem (Ra’am-Ta’al) talked about his experience as a former teacher and his experience that education ministry reforms are short lived until the next education minister. He did cite Sa’ar as a reason why the Arab bagrut level is 2% higher than last year.

The motion was passed 13-0 and sent to the Education Committee.

Motion on the justice system’s intervention in the Immanuel education system

MK Moses (U.T.J.) condemned the Supreme Court for intervening in private education. He reminded that just four sephardi Supreme Court judges have been appointed since the beginning of the State. Moses called the court hypocritical and anti-religious and reminded the room that the last country that intervened in private education was the former Soviet Union. Moses said that the last thing Israel needs in the aftermath of the flotilla is a big protest of chareidim against the country’s institutions. Moses warned that his community is willing to go to jail in order to stand for their right to choose who is in their classrooms.

Minister Sa’ar said that the education ministry supported the school’s position, but the Supreme Court chose to not accept the ministry’s position and go with the prosecution. Sa’ar said that although his ministry lost they accept defeat and suggest the school do that as well.

MK Gafni (U.T.J.) said that sephardi families will be sent to jail as well as ashkenazim and therefore the Supreme Court’s decision that it is a “race” issue is false. MK Horovitz (Meretz) interrupted Gafni’s speech by screaming at him until Walhaba regained order.

MK Ze’ev suggested that the Supreme Court visit Immanuel and see that they don’t understand the situation for themselves. He added that the Supreme Court’s decision to prevent Immanuel’s parents from sending their children to Bnei Brak has only fueled the fire. He feared that the Supreme Court is refusing creative solutions because they want this mess to explode.

MK Ben-Ari said that as a sephardi he can say this court ruling will not help anybody and will only make the situation worse.

MK Yoel Chasson (Kadima) called for an end to the separation of ashkenazi and sephardi schools.

MK Rotem (Y.B.) said the big rabbis are not with the school on this issue and called on the chareidi MKs to prevent their voters from ending up in jail.

The Knesset agreed to defeat the motion by not voting on it.

Motion on the relations between Israel and Turkey

MK Regev (Likud) said Turkey was supposed to be the bridge between Europe and Asia. Turkey was meant to be the moderate modern Muslim nation. Today, Turkey is one of Iran’s best friends. She suggested that Erdogan is afraid of losing his re-election bid in 2011. Erdogan is losing in the opinion polls and is attacking Israel in order to gain popularity. Regev suggested we buy time until the secular parties, which are first and third in the opinion polls, form a new government.

MK Eldad said that the flotilla is the symptom and not the illness. Eldad remembered when Iran was Israel’s friend and said it might only be a matter of time until Turkey joins Iran as one of Israel’s biggest enemies. He said that it is only a matter of time until the tanks that Israel sold Turkey will be sent as humanitarian aid to Gaza.

MK Yoel Chasson said that we shouldn’t jump to conclusions and end our relationship with Turkey. He suggested restraint and not igniting a flame.

MK Tzartzur (Ra’am-Ta’al) suggested that Israel end their cold peace treaties with Jordan and Egypt. He said the idea of punishing Turkey before they have done anything is ridiculous.

Deputy Prime Minister Yaalon (Likud) said that Turkey has always been friends with Israel. He said that although the flotilla has complicated things, he is not worried that the situation will escalate.

The Knesset agreed to defeat the motion by not voting on it.

Motion on the shooting attack against the police and border police near Hebron and Jerusalem

MK Ze’ev said that the previous governments assured us that if we would disengage from Gaza that if they shot rockets at Israel – we would fight back. Instead we give the stubborn enemy more concessions, ones that lead to Israeli deaths. He warned that Abu-Mazen is not in power but Hamas is. He said that Israelis are living under an illusion that everything is okay. He gave his condolences to the family of the murdered policeman who was to be married in three months.

MK Rotem gave condolences to the family of the murdered and recovery to the injured. Rotem said that Defense Minister Barak is responsible for the death. He cited the numbers from the Btzelem report that praised Barak’s removal of over 100 road blocks. Rotem asked how we can have a defense minister who does not defend us.

MK Eldad said that the El Aksa Brigade of Fatah took responsibility for the terrorist attack. Eldad said that if Abu-Mazen had brought the men responsible to justice, he could understand why Netanyahu is speaking to him. In the current climate Eldad asked why Netanyahu is speaking to the man who indirectly committed an act of terror against Israel. He reminded that by easing the road blocks, Jews die, not Arabs.

MK Cabel said his thoughts are with the injured. He expressed his vision for a two state solution with complete security for every Israeli citizen until we give the Palestinians the state they deserve.

MK Elkin (Likud) said that we can’t ease Palestinian lives when Jewish lives are being lost. He suggested building new roads for Israelis if they choose to lift road blocks.

MK Orlev (J.H.) said that by removing road blocks the message we are sending is that terrorism works. He said that this concession without receiving anything in return is worthless and costs lives.

Deputy Prime Minister Yaalon refused to respond to the motion and said this is a matter for the Defense Minister and not him.

MK Tzartzur said that the settlers in Hebron are there against international law and the settlers and soldiers who protect them should not be surprised when bad things happen to them. MK Ben-Ari screamed at Tzarztur telling him he should be ashamed of himself for disgracing the dead. Deputy Speaker Miller almost threw out Ben-Ari.

MK Ben-Ari said that Jews have been in Hebron for thousands of years and will stay there forever. He said that MK Tzartur had some nerve to disgrace all the men and women who died for Hebron.

The motion was passed 10-1 and sent to the Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee.

Motion on the Jews who visit the Kotel are risking their lives

MK Moses said that because people can’t enter the Old City with their cars, they end up endangering their lives. He gave an example of a woman who had rocks thrown at her when she was forced to park on the eastern side of the city. He gave another example from the day after with the same result. He also talked about the desecration of the Mount of Olives cemetery by Arabs who live in the area. Moses called on the police to secure the Kotel from those who do not want Jews to visit the most important site to them.

MK Ben-Ari said there was no reason to give his speech because the Homeland Security Minister did not bother to show up, and when he does show he just reads off what his secretaries wrote for him. He chose to criticize the minister’s decision to cancel the monthly Rosh Chodesh walk around the walls of the Old City due to security concerns. Ben-Ari condemned the policemen who refuse to interfere in affairs in the Muslim quarter of the Old City because they say it is not on their side.

Deputy Prime Minister Yaalon answered that until the flotilla, violence was low in the Old City. He expressed his feeling that things will slowly return to normal.

MK Michaeli (Shas) said that the issue is in discussion in the Interior Committee and suggested that the motion be sent there.

The motion was passed 10-1 and sent to the Interior Committee.

Motion on the Treasury plan to tackle the real estate bubble

MK Shama (Likud) said that young couples are pressuring every government committee on this issue. He suggested the Treasury not play a long term game and come up with immediate solutions. He said the Treasury’s plan will only begin in two years. He demanded that the Treasury Minister use some guts and take a risk for a shorter term solution.

MK Swed (Chadash) said the real estate demand in Israel is 100,000 units and the Treasury suggests adding 15,000 this year. Swed said this is a plan that does not answer what happens when next year the demand stands at 200,000.

MK Amar (Y.B.) said that the lack of an immediate solution to this housing crisis must be found before the current houses raise their prices.

MK Tzartzur said the Arab sector has a more severe housing crisis than the Jews do. He warned if Israel did not solve the Arab problem first it would be another sin of the Israeli government against their Arab minority.

MK Ketzeleh (N.U.) said that unlike the American housing crisis where there are millions of empty houses, in Israel there is not one empty house. He said that the settlement freeze is the cause of the housing crisis.

MK Gilon said that he agreed with all of the speakers except Ketzeleh. He said the solution is taking the people that have empty houses and forcing them to sell them, especially rich Americans. Gilon added that the country needs to build more houses anyway in order to place the settlers in new houses after we kick them out.

MK Peretz (Labor) said we don’t need to cheapen the existing apartments. He said that a real estate bubble is when the price of the apartment does not reflect the real prices. He suggested the government determines prices and keeps them there.

MK Gafni said he disagreed with the privatization and small government that Netanyahu created when he was finance minister. He blamed the other religious parties for that policy that continues until today. Gafni said that he made compromises as a chairman of a committee but he gained important things out of it. He doesn’t know what Israel gained out of the privatization besides the real estate bubble.

Deputy Finance Minister Cohen said that the real estate bubble in the center of the country is due to the shortage of housing. He said he was disappointed with MK Shama, who is trying to be a populist MK and who talks fluff.

MK Chanin said that the crisis has expanded to the point that people can’t even rent an apartment.

MK Mula (Kadima) said we need public housing for the poor.

The motion was passed 11-0 and was sent to the Funds Committee.

Motion on the government approval to establish a committee to examine the flotilla events

MK Bareka (Chadash) said the committee will not do anything useful. He called on ending the Gaza blockade.

MK Zachalka (Balad) said the committee is a joke and the siege of Gaza is very real. He said that an investigation on a Turkish ship in Turkish water where Turkish people were killed, without a Turkish representative is a joke. He added that the entire international community objects to the Israeli probe as well.

Minister Erdan said that he supported the government decision he was a part of to conduct an Israeli probe. He supported the probe and said it would find that we acted well.

MK Mula said some international elements should be included in the probe.

The motion against the Israeli probe was defeated 2-6.

Motion on the struggle of the cleaners of Ben Gurion University

MK Edri (Kadima) said that the cleaners are treated badly and something needs to be done to help them. He asked how they can take away the workers’ rights that are given to them by law.

Deputy Minister Noked said that not every case where a contract is violated requires the ministry of industry and trade to get involved. She asked the Knesset to defeat the bill. Deputy Speaker Miller took a stance against the deputy minister and suggested sending the motion to a committee.

The motion passed 6-0 and sent to the Labor Committee.

Motion on International Gay Pride Day

MK Zoaretz (Kadima) criticized the prime minister’s office, which tried to convince her to drop the motion. She said the government tried to drop the motion on the technicality that it doesn’t fall in any of the 30 ministers’ jurisdictions. She said that none of the ministers wanted to touch the motion because they were afraid of it. She said there are 700,000 gays in Israel and that the government should be ashamed of themselves. She criticized the rabbis who persecute gay people. She suggested that the government support the gay people who pay taxes instead of the religious people who don’t contribute to the country. She called the government’s position on the issue a disgrace.

Deputy Minister Noked responded that the government supports the motion and gay people. She called on all politicians to help bridge the gap to bring gay people into the mainstream.

MK Zoaretz agreed with Deputy Minister Noked’s speech and chose to defeat the motion by not voting on it.

Motion on the expansion of the cultural and academic boycott of Israel

MK Smalov-Berkovitz discussed the channel 2 report that presented Israeli professors who called Israel an illegitimate state and said they would bring hundreds of anti-Israel groups into Israel. They called Israel’s ministers past and present illegitimate occupiers of Palestinian land. Smalov-Berkovitz said that we have failed with the internal hasbara if we have anti-Israel Israelis that stand at the leadership of the Israeli academia.

Hasbara Minister Edelstein (Likud) said that his ministry has created websites that work on both national and international hasbara. He agreed that anti-Israel professors should not be given a salary by the country they oppose. Edelstein said there is a limit to freedom of expression. He said that a professor who says Kahane was right will not last five minutes in a university, but the liberal extreme is not held to that regard. Edelstein said he is disgusted with the hypocrisy of the academic community. He warned that if we do not place limits on their freedom of speech, there will be a big problem in the future.

The motion was passed 8-0 and sent to the Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee.

* Three other motions were dropped because their MKs were not present.

Queries to Transportation Minister Katz (Likud)

MK Dichter (Kadima) asked about the lack of fire and ambulance stations in remote areas. Dichter said it took nine months for Katz to answer the query and he feels that nothing has been done on the subject since.

The minister responded that some new stations have opened recently and hopes that more will open soon. He expects when there is budget for the process to be quicker.

MK Gafni asked about the safety of traffic control and air travel after a mishap that almost crashed five planes earlier this month.

The minister answered that all of the issues were resolved and that air travel is safe.

MK Levin asked about the shortage of buses in the Jordan Valley and the reason why the Gush Katif evacuated settlement does not have a bus stop.

The minister answered that the buses have few passengers on them and the bus companies lose money on the lines, therefore he won’t add more. Katz said that a bus stop will be placed next to the Mesikot settlement in order to give them proper access to public transportation.

MK Levin asked another query on the subject of the Bet Shemesh – Jerusalem railway. The query asked what can be done to improve the existing line and why Bet Shemesh is not going to be on the expected express rail line planned between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. He added that the 38 highway that connects Bet Shemesh to the number 1 road is in bad shape.

The minister answered that the express Tel Aviv – Jerusalem railway is one of the cornerstones of his transportation reform. He explained that the current Bet Shemesh rail line has a train every hour during rush hour and every two hours at the other times. The ministry plans to increase trains to every hour in 2012. He added that the Bet Shemesh – Tel Aviv line works smoothly and has high demand. Katz said that the Tel Aviv – Jerusalem rail line will not be complete until 2016. He explained that the addition of a Bet Shemesh station on that line would delay the opening of the line; it would lengthen it and cost a lot more money. He added that Mevaseret does not even have a stop on the new line, despite the fact that it runs right next to it. He announced that highway 1 is going to be upgraded from sha’ar hagay to the Moza interchange. He explained the new Moza interchange will allow drivers to enter Road 16 from Moza. Katz explained that he put money into budgeting the entire 38 highway and turning it into a two lane highway on both sides. He added that he is working on upgrading road 10 and creating an interchange with the 38 highway by Noham in order to ease traffic congestion.

* The minister criticized the 15 MKs who submitted questions but did not attend the query session. He said that he has very good answers to very good questions and suggested that if the MKs are not present that the answers should not be sent to the protocol.  They were.

Other Notes

The World Zionist Congress post will have to wait for Sunday/Monday.

The Maagar Mohot Poll differs from the Haaretz Dialog poll in a few interesting ways.  Maagar has Likud with 32 mandates compared to Dialog’s 33, but Kadima drops to 25 seats in the Maagar poll, as opposed to 27 in the Dialog one. This means that the difference between Likud and Kadima is seven seats in the Maagar poll, compared to six in the Dialog.  Another difference between the polls is Maagar has Meretz at its current 3 seats, compared to five in the Dialog poll.

I know that Israel is very far from elections with such a stable coalition but I do think it is important to monitor public opinion of the parties which influence many MKs actions.

Maagar Mohot Poll: Right 70 Left 39 Arabs 11

Dr. Aaron Lerner Date 11 June 2010

Telephone poll of a representative sample of 508 adult Israelis (including
Israeli Arabs) carried out by Maagar Mohot Survey Institute
(headed by Professor Yitzchak Katz for Makor Rishon 9-10 June 2010 and
published on 11 June
Statistical error +/- 4.5 percentage points.

If elections held today (expressed in Knesset seats) –
Current Knesset seats in [brackets].
25 [28] Kadima
32 [27] Likud
11 [13] Labor
11 [11] Shas
14 [15] Yisrael Beiteinu
06 [05] Yahadut Hatorah
03 [03] Meretz
03 [03] Jewish Home
04 [04] Nat’l Union
11 [11] Arab parties

Interior Minister Eli Yishai answered queries for most of Tuesday’s session of three hours and fifteen minutes. The one minute speeches were influenced by the government committee’s findings on the treatment of the citizens evacuated during the disengagement. Two bills on prohibiting school children to work during school hours and exempting city tax payments on graves were both passed in their first readings. The motion on the World Zionist Congress was attended by few MKs and none of the MKs bothered to stay for the Deputy Education Minister’s query session.

One Minute Speeches

The popular topic among the 24 speakers was the findings of the probe on the government’s treatment of the evacuated settlers of the disengagement.

MK Walhaba (Kadima) congratulated the Druze education system. He cited an increase in high school graduations and bagrut exams this year of 8.5%.

MK Bensimon (Labor) criticized the settlers evicted during the disengagement from Gaza for not doing their part of the job. He also said that Israel should complete the disengagement and let the people of Gaza live their lives.

MK Amar (Y.B.) criticized the government for not giving preference to the Druze citizens in need of social security.

MK Tibi (Ra’am-Ta’al) criticized Israel for not adding traffic lights to roads with Palestinian traffic, particularly the roads leading to the 443 highway. He claimed that although no one has died on these roads, it is a matter of time until someone does.

MK Ben-Ari (N.U.) spoke about the parsha of the week in which Israel conquers the east bank of the Jordan River and which discusses the greatness of Aharon. He also congratulated the students, teachers and principals who completed another successful school year.

MK Moses (U.T.J.) marked the anniversary of the Lubavitch Rabbi’s death and expressed outrage over the Supreme Court interfering with the legislative branch of government by repealing religious bills.

MK Adato (Kadima) discussed the shortage of doctors and hospital beds.

MK Levin (Likud) said that the disengagement was the biggest human rights violation Israel ever committed. He asked why the Supreme Court did not get involved in a case where citizens had their homes and jobs taken away from them. He answered that according to the Supreme Court human rights are not given to the right-wing and to the religious; they are only given to the Arabs and the left-wing.

MK Magadla (Labor) criticized the treatment of Turkish nationals on Israeli campuses.

MK Nafa (Balad) said that although the Druze sector bagrut rate has risen to 48% of students receiving their bagrut, it is a far cry from the Jewish 62%.

MK Cabel (Labor) criticized the army for investigating and trying army officers who gave testimony in court.

MK Eldad (N.U.) criticized the treatment of the evacuated settlers of the disengagement and warned against further removal of Israeli populations.

MK Bielski (Kadima) said that although we needed to carry out the disengagement, the way we treated the evacuated settlers has been terrible and it must be corrected immediately.

MK Chanin (Chadash) criticized last weeks’ right wing counter protesters for prowling the Tel Aviv streets, where they are not welcome, during the night.

MK Levi-Abukasis (Y.B.) discussed the problems surrounding autistic kids.

MK Pelsner (Kadima) criticized the upcoming biannual budget and Funds Committee Chairman Gafni.

MK Gafni (U.T.J.) criticized Pelsner’s speech and called Pelsner a political rookie who doesn’t understand that he is actually protecting the Knesset from the Finance Minister and finding good compromises for everybody.

MK Orbach (J.H.) said the sin of the disengagement led to the sin of Hamas taking control of Gaza, which led to the sin of Gilad Shalit’s abduction, rockets, flotilla and war.

MK Smalov-Berkovitz (Kadima) discussed the dangers of traffic accidents.

MK Okunis (Likud) thanked the banks for lowering their bank fees and suggested they lower them even further.

MK Shitrit (Kadima) criticized the biannual budget and the lack of recycling in Knesset. Speaker Rivlin agreed to MK Shitrit’s initiative and instituted an immediate recycling program in Knesset committees.

MK Ganem (Ra’am-Ta’al) talked about his past as a teacher who encouraged reading.

MK Michaeli (Shas) asked for fewer declarations and more actions to help the evacuated settlers who have gone through hell during the last five years.

MK Shama (Likud) talked about the shortage of homes in Israel.

Speaker Rivlin chose to give a one minute speech on his feelings about Hebrew Book Week.

Question Hour with Interior Minister Yishai (Shas)

1) MK Chanin asked about the government policy of not creating new cities. He went on to bring a few exceptions to that rule and asked why all the exceptions were Jewish cities. Chanin criticized Yishai for not approving other queries he had in previous sessions, one of which was approved for a different MK.

The minister said there were no exceptions and the examples Chanin brought are in fact extensions of existing cities.

2) MK Horovitz (Meretz) also criticized Yishai for not approving queries. He went on to ask the minister about projects for city councils. He also asked if Sudanese refugees are allowed to work in Israel.

Yishai responded that all MKs can ask him on Monday and Wednesday in person. He answered the question by saying there are plenty of projects going on with city councils. Yishai explained that a great majority of the Sudanese in Israel have not been given refugee status and are infiltrators and illegal immigrants. He would answer questions on both groups. He said that refugees are not allowed to work and it is not our responsibility to finance them. Yishai warned that by being too democratic, you can lose your democracy. He stated very clearly that he will not open up the borders to Sudanese infiltrators and stressed they are not refugees. Yishai said that he will work with all his might to prevent the predicted million illegal immigrants from entering Israel’s borders over the next year and reminded everyone that he predicted the foreign worker demographic issues that we have today. He explained that by opening up the borders Israel will lose its Jewish identity and that the Sudanese must be deported and the number of legal foreign workers must be reduced. He also asked that people not fall into the populist trap of caring for the foreign workers’ children.

3) MK Solodkin (Kadima) asked why residents who are in the process of becoming citizens are not allowed to work more than six months before their citizenship is authorized, instead of a year as it was in previous administrations. She said that many of these people forge documents in order to provide for their families because the bureaucracy takes more than six months.

Yishai answered that he had not made any changes on this subject and the current law is the same as it was under former Interior Minister Shitrit. He said that he is thinking of shortening the period from a year to six months, but it hasn’t even been discussed yet in the Interior Committee.

4) MK Amar asked about his position on the committee that found problems with certain city councils.

The minister said he is going to act in accordance with the committee’s findings.

5) MK Gilon (Meretz) criticized Yishai for not answering queries. He asked about foreign workers who are physically abused.

The minister answered that many foreign workers are trying to take advantage of Israel’s kindness towards minorities and that the 30 women that Gilon is talking about are having their cases investigated individually.

6) MK Eldad (N.U.) asked why Israel is not bringing the rest of the Ethiopian Jews to Israel.

The minister answered that within two years they should all be in Israel. He reminded the room that former Interior Minister Shitrit refused to bring them.

7) MK Tzartur (Ra’am-Ta’al) asked about the destruction of illegal Arab homes.

The minister responded that the local mayors are the ones who are causing the destruction of illegal homes because they refuse to work together with the ministry in order to legalize them.

8) MK Levin asked when there will be elections in Lod and what the minister plans to do to prevent foreign worker and Sudanese families from living here.

The minister answered that the elections in Lod will be in November 2012. He added that by not allowing the foreigners to work they will leave on their own.

9) MK Zoaretz (Kadima) asked about the few joint local councils that remain and what the Interior Minister plans on doing with them.

The minister answered that he plans on budgeting these councils in order to encourage local councils to merge in the future.

10) MK Shitrit asked about the implementation of the Biometric Law.

The minister answered that it took time to find the right people to implement the law and that work has started on it.

11) MK Pelsner asked about transparency on interior ministry decisions. He also asked about water pollution as a result of approving industrial areas next to the coast and beaches.

The minister said that he has increased transparency, but there are limits.

12) MK Miller (Y.B.) asked about the upcoming closures of Kiryat Shemona’s library and community centers due to lack of funds.

The minister agreed to look into the matter personally.

13) MK Asana (Ra’am-Ta’al) asked why the minister is holding up elections in Arab cities and criticized illegal demolitions.

The minister answered that many cities ask for elections every year and he can’t listen to every opposition that wants new elections. He added that he does not plan on encouraging people to build illegal homes.

14) MK Boim (Kadima) asked what can be done to improve the fire fighting services around the country.

The minister said he is working on improving the issue and hopes a new committee will be formed to solve it.

Amendment on the Youth Work Bill

MK Miller explained his amendment would prohibit the employment of children aged 16-18 during school hours. He hoped that this would prevent kids from dropping out of school.

MK Tirosh (Kadima) said that the Youth Work Bill is an important bill and this amendment will give it more relevance.

MK Levi-Abukasis (Y.B.) said the amendment will help protect kids who are supporting their families.

MK Ze’ev (Shas) said that kids that do not have motivation will not stay in school. He warned that drop outs who are protecting their families by working will now become criminals. He also warned that by not allowing them to work they will take drugs in order to pass the time. He added that although he disagrees with the bill, he will not vote against it.

The bill passed its first reading 11-0 and was sent to the Education Committee.

Amendment of Municipal Taxes and Government Taxes Bill

MK Gafni explained the amendment would exempt individuals who bury their dead and cemeteries that are not used for profit from paying taxes for graves.

MK Rotem (Y.B.) said that the legal terms in the bill are incorrect and must be corrected. He suggested rephrasing the bill and making many changes.

MK Mula (Kadima) complained about the high rates for burial taken by Chevra Kadisha.

The bill passed its first reading 9-0 and was sent to the Funds Committee.

Motion on the 36th World Zionist Congress

MK Mula said he was disappointed by the low attendance of MKs on the important motion. He asked whether Zionism is important to the MKs outside of the room. He supported Hertzl’s vision to bring back the entire Jewish people to their historic land. He said that the World Zionist Congress is still relevant because the majority of the Jews still live outside of Israel. He said that all Zionistic institutions must remain strong in order to bring the Jews home. Mula added that we need to support the Arab sector as well as recognize the Reform Judaism conversions.

Minister Hershkovitz (J.H.) said that the government supports all Zionistic institutions and also works to strengthen them. Minister Hershkovitz revealed that both he and Minister Neaman are descendants of Hertzl.

The motion passed 5-0 and was sent to the Aliyah Committee.

Queries to Deputy Education Minister Parush (U.T.J.)

The five queries were not answered because none of the MKs were in the room.

Other Notes:

I will have a blog post at the end of the World Zionist Congress to give a recap of the week and the important stories of the Congress.

Most of Monday’s four and half hour session was spent discussing the three no confidence motions that would be rejected. The National Union submitted their first no confidence motion of the summer session as Meretz agreed not to submit one this week. An amendment on the Supervision of Financial Services Bill passed its second and third readings. The Knesset also passed six bills in their first readings and passed the annual vote to extend Israel’s state of emergency another year.

No Confidence Motions

Kadima’s Motion was titled “The Prime Minister has no way and no direction”.

MK Dichter (Kadima) said that over the last year and a quarter Israel has lost the faith and trust of the international community. He said the level of the government is sinking as quickly as the water in the Sea of Galilee. He criticized Netanyahu for not advancing the peace process and claimed that many people in his own government disagree with him. He said that the citizens know that Netanyahu has no vision and quoted former Secretary of State Kissinger on Israel’s lack of international policy during Bibi’s first term.

Minister Erdan (Likud) said he is tired of listening to empty speeches week after week. He said that he was disappointed for the citizens of Israel that this is the opposition that represents them. He cited the disengagement, allowing Hamas to compete in the elections during which they took over Gaza and the Cast Lead Gaza operation as reasons why Kadima is responsible for the current isolation of Israel from the international community. He said that Kadima was the party without a way or direction because Tzipi Livni is sinking in the polls and the Likud under Bibi is rising. Erdan reminded Dichter of his famous speech where, as the head of the Shabak at the time, Dichter said the disengagement would not cause Hamas to rise to power. The minister added that Netanyahu’s direction is direct negotiations with territorial concessions; he reminded Dichter that the Palestinians don’t want to talk. He suggested Kadima prescribe the medication that will bring the Palestinians back to the table and create a lasting peace. After citing Israel’s accomplishment in the financial sector, Erdan suggested Kadima let the government go about their business and not waste their time with nonsense.

The motion submitted by Balad, Ra’am-Ta’al and Chadash was titled: ‘Government negatively affects the development of the Arab communities in Wadi Ara through the establishment of the Jewish city Charish.’

MK Zachalka (Balad) said that Charish is expanding exactly in the same area that the Arab cities wanted to use for their expansion. He accused Israel of land grabbing the Wadi Ara and Galilee areas by transferring portions of land next to Arab villages to ‘green’ environmental areas and removing the green label when Jewish towns want to expand to that area. He called on the chareidim to disobey their leaders and to prevent the expansion of Charish.

Interior Minister Yishai (Shas) said that Zachalka was spreading lies and incitement and stated no country treats its minorities as well as Israel does. He said that the mayors of Arab cities prevent interior ministry plans to build apartments because they want one level houses so they can land grab forests. He said that the ones who are being hurt are the citizens of the Israeli Arab villages. Yishai assured that the green areas will remain green.

The National Union’s motion was titled “the serious damage caused to Israel by the defense minister’s decision to ignore the National Security Council suggestion to include members of the IDF in the briefing on the preparations to stop the Gaza Flotilla”.

MK Ben-Ari (N.U.) said that Gaza will soon send rockets to the “country” of Tel Aviv because of the decisions to lift some of the restrictions on the Gaza blockade due to the Flotilla. Ben-Ari reminded the room that when he warned that rockets would hit Ashkelon he was told he was over-reacting. He criticized the decision to set free Al-Qaeda operatives who injured Israeli soldiers and want to destroy the State of Israel. He criticized Barak for not allowing the IDF to offer other solutions to the Flotilla affair before it happened. He also criticized Barak for refusing to allow IDF officers from answering questions in the Defense and Foreign Affairs committee. Ben-Ari said in order to pursue a lasting peace Israel must defeat its enemies. He said that the National Union is asking to bring down the government because the Prime Minister will not replace the Defense Minister who is bringing Israel down a very dangerous road.

Minister Peled (Likud) said that the issues with Barak not following the NSC’s suggestions have been resolved. He refused to respond to the rest of Ben-Ari’s speech.

Debate on the motion by the 12 party representatives

MK Yisrael Chason (Kadima) criticized the government decision to send the IDF with paint guns into a war zone. He suggested that Barak take responsibility for the mistake and step down.

MK Matalon (Y.B.) said this was the wrong time for Zionistic parties to try and topple a Zionistic government that is battling a difficult situation with Turkey and other nations. He went on to criticize the Israeli Arab MKs who don’t represent their public.

MK Bensimon (Labor) criticized Kadima for turning right.

MK Ze’ev (Shas) said between 50%-60% of the Jewish people in America have intermarried. He agreed that many of the Ministers were not consulted on the Flotilla decision. Ze’ev recalled that investigations probe both sides. Ze’ev said we should stop asking ourselves what we did wrong and let the army probe investigate and give us answers.

MK Moses (U.T.J.) criticized the Supreme Court decision today that ruled against the government paying the 10,000 yeshiva students salaries.

MK Asana (Ra’am-Ta’al) supported Zachalka’s words and said there is a building freeze in Arab areas just like the “supposed” building freeze in the West Bank.

MK Bareka (Chadash) said the right wing government might have wall-to-wall support in Israel, but it does not have that support internationally. He called on an international probe and stated that he identifies with the murdered not the murderers.

MK Oron (Meretz) said he is against an international probe but for a better national probe that will investigate the government, find the problems and give solutions for the next time.

MK Orbach (J.H.) asked why Israel would agree to a probe where Israel will be investigated but Turkey will not be. He blasted journalist Nachum Barnea for downplaying the importance of the Israeli probe because their members are all old men. Orbach asked maybe under this understanding Shimon Peres should resign as President because at 86 he is too old.

MK Zoabi (Balad) criticized Israel for not building exclusive Arab cities while building Jewish ones. She asked if the Jewish schools teach their students the names of the Arab cities of the “Israeli side of Palestine”.

MK Ariel (N.U.) criticized the government’s decision to remove road blocks, which caused another death today. He said the Flotilla response was a failure. Ariel criticized the government’s treatment of Jerusalem by freezing Jewish construction. He blasted the Interior Committee, which now convenes but does not build. He reminded the government that elections will slowly creep up on them and they will have a lot to answer for.

MK Elkin (Likud) asked why Kadima has not suggested a different solution to the Flotilla affair. He answered maybe it is because there wasn’t one. He wondered how Kadima could agree with the government’s decision but disagree with how they decided it. He said that Kadima is the one without a direction and recent polls show what Israel thinks of Kadima’s lack of direction.

The Kadima, Arab parties and National Union motions were defeated 25-52 with two abstentions, 8-55 with 14 abstentions and 22-55 with six abstentions, respectively.

Amendment on the Supervision of Financial Services Bill

MK Chaim Katz (Likud) explained that this amendment would update the national insurance costs to modern standards and would also assist people who received unemployment during specified periods of 2009.

The bill passed its second and third readings 46-0 and 48-0 respectively.

Amendment on the Joint Investment Trust Bill

Deputy Finance Minister Cohen (Shas) explained this bill is in line with the government plan for financial stability.

MK Ben-Ari said that the Israeli hasbara problem is not the hasbara but the content of the hasbara. He said if we conquered Jerusalem and the West Bank then we conquered Jaffa too and have no right to a state.

MK Chanin (Chadash) criticized the capitalistic policies of the government.

The amendment was passed in its first reading 12-0 and sent to the Funds Committee.

Health Insurance Bill

Deputy Minister Litzman (U.T.J.) explained that under the bill dental care would be available to all children for free and all dentists would be able to join the official four health clinic companies without needing to reduce their rates.

MK Adato (Kadima) asked if the health clinics will be able to afford the changes and suggested that this bill might create a fifth health clinic.

MK Chanin said he supports the idea of the bill but is afraid that the bill is a bit too capitalistic as it assists the private dentists in maintaining their high prices. He also criticized the capitalists in America from preventing the Obama health reform.

MK Oron (Meretz) said that he knows that Litzman is against a fifth health clinic company but Netanyahu is in favor of it. Oron warned that this bill will be misused in the future and the goal is the government getting a slice of the billion and a half shekels the dental industry makes each year. He said that it will hurt the socialist medicine policy that Israel must maintain at all costs.

MK Levi-Abukasis (Y.B.) said this would prevent bad dentists from working in health clinics and private practices, and the government getting involved on the issue is something she expected Meretz and other socialist and communist parties would agree on.

The bill passed its first reading 22-3 and was sent to the Health Committee.

Supervision of Plant Production and Marketing Bill

Agriculture Minister Simchon (Labor) explained this would assist in providing better quality and less expensive flowers for the weekends. The law will give Israeli products preference over European plants and flowers.

MK Ben-Ari chose to speak about the “Oleh Hagradom” who immigrated to Israel 72 years ago and were killed by Arabs.

MK Chanin spoke in favor of the bill and explained he would raise a few objections in the committee.

The bill passed its first reading 15-1 and was sent to the Agriculture Committee.

Amendment on the Communications Bill

Communications Minister Kachalon (Likud) explained his amendment would continue the local news broadcasts on TV for another 18 months. He explained that over 100 people are employed full-time in order to broadcast local news to their areas.

MK Levi-Abukasis said the two and a half million shekels the bill will cost is lower than firing over 100 people.

The bill passed its first reading 15-0 and was sent to the Finance Committee.

Recommendation of the Joint Committees of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee and the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee: The government’s request to renew Israel’s state of emergency

MK Michaeli (Shas) explained that the state of emergency that was declared in 1948 and has been extended every year since needs to be renewed once again.

MK Chanin said that the automatic extension of the state of emergency should not be renewed because it is not needed. He criticized the administrative arrests of Palestinian security prisoner suspects among other B’Tselem Report issues that would end if the state of emergency would end.

MK Nafa (Balad) condemned Israel for killing Arabs and said that a country without a constitution is not a democratic one.

The bill passed 12-2.

Amendment on the Traffic Ordinance Bill

MK Levin (Likud) explained the amendment he co-sponsored with MK Maklev will increase the number of public transportation lanes in cities and outside cities as well.

MK Maklev said this bill will increase the usage and importance of public transportation.

MK Chanin said this is an environmental bill and he supports it as a first step. He said the Tel Aviv metropolitan area needs a subway or something like it.

The bill passed its first reading 7-0 and was sent to the Finance Committee.

Amendment on the Basic Law – Knesset

MK Levin explained the amendment would raise the number of deputies of the Knesset Speaker to nine. This would reflect the nine members the Speaker has today, instead of the special permission that raised it temporarily from seven to nine.

The bill passed its first reading 5-0 and was sent to the House Committee.

The poll taken last week shows that if the elections were held today the Likud would gain six seats and Kadima would lose one. The poll also showed that Liberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu would stay at 15.  Labor would fall to become the fifth biggest party with eight seats, compared to Shas who would lose a seat but stay in double digits with ten.

Haaretz’s Dialog polls are slanted towards the left. An example of which was predicting two days before the 2009 election that Meretz would receive seven seats, compared with the three they would actually receive.  My thoughts on this poll is that the support for the right wing block may be even higher.

Haaretz-Dialog survey of 500 Israelis (including Israeli Arabs) 8 June 2010.
Survey error +/- 4.3 percentage points. Published on 11 June.

If elections held today (expressed in Knesset seats) –
Current Knesset seats in [brackets].
33 [27] Likud
27 [28] Kadima
15 [15] Yisrael Beiteinu
10 [11] Shas
08 [13] Labor
06 [05] Yahadut Hatorah
05 [03] Meretz
03 [04] Nat’l Union
03 [03] Jewish Home
10 [11] Arab parties

Wednesday’s session lasted less than six hours and covered many subjects. Following the urgent queries, the Knesset discussed seven bills. The three bills dealing with offsetting capital losses of investments in Israeli start-ups, adjusting banknotes and coins for the blind and expanding the maximum capacity of public entertainment business were all passed in their preliminary readings. MK Mofaz’s bill on forcing public institutions to wave the Israeli flag on every work day was passed in its first reading. Two bills dealing with granting doctor house visits to people with disabilities and changing the composition of the appeals committee on adoption and custody battles were defeated. Speaker Rivlin went against the government decision to defeat a vote on a bill that would exempt women from reporting taxes for a business run from their own home that does not gross more than 70,000 NIS per year. Rivlin delayed the vote on the bill for a week in order to convince the government to support the opposition bill. The Knesset also discussed five motions, sending four of them to committee and choosing not to vote on one of them.

For the most part this Wednesday was very different from last. The debate on the motion surrounding the Peace Now demonstration in Tel Aviv was very tense, mostly due to the meddling of Deputy Speakers Tibi and Magadla. Besides that motion most of the session was civil.

Urgent Query to Education Minister Sa’ar (Likud)

MK Ganem (Ra’am-Ta’al) asked about the Arabic Language bagrut exam and complained that Arabic teachers don’t have proper training from the Education ministry. He also added that the current standard for hiring Arabic teachers is flawed because they don’t favor university degrees. MK Swed (Chadash) added that it would be better if the teachers had more time to study the current year’s bagrut exam in order to get better acquainted with the material. Swed added that the school day should be longer. MK Asana (Ra’am-Ta’al) asked about the shortage of Arabic teachers in the Negev.

The minister said there would be new standards for hiring Arabic teachers in the future. He said the Arab sector is lucky because there are plenty of candidates. The problem with the Jewish sector is that there is a lack of teachers today and bad candidates are chosen. He said that he will try to prepare the current teachers accordingly with proper ministry protocol. He added that most of the current teachers were political appointments and were not the most qualified.

Urgent Query to Deputy Education Minister Parush (U.T.J.)

MK Cabel (Labor) asked what is being done for the thousands of children at risk that are not entitled to support from the Education Ministry. He said a total of 45,000 children at risk are not in current programs.

The minister said that 50 million NIS can only go so far and they give out 100,000 NIS to each program that deals with children at risk. Some cities are not involved in the program because giving a city a program means taking one away from another city. He suggested to Cabel that he convince his friends in the Labor party to give money to the Education ministry for this purpose.

Urgent Query to Deputy Finance Minister

  • Speaker Rivlin criticized sharply MK Baron (Kadima) for being the first MK to not show up for an urgent query.

Deputy Finance Minister Cohen (Shas) answered the query on “delays in transferring benefits to Holocaust survivors from Bulgaria and Romania”.  He explained that because of the many people who are asking for benefits, it will take time to give the benefits to everyone. He criticized MK Baron for cheapening the standing of an urgent query.

Amendment on the Income Tax Bill

MK Ilatov (Y.B.) explained the amendment would offset capital losses in Israeli start-up high tech companies. The amendment was proposed as a solution to the lack of international investment in Israeli companies due to a fear they will lose their capital investment in today’s shaky financial market. Ilatov said the added value of the bill is that Israelis will not leave and start up their company in America, and Israel will keep her best minds in the country and create quality jobs. Ilatov said that the bill might cost billions, but the cap on returning investments will be 10 million NIS, and studies have shown that high tech multiplies its investments. He called the bill one of the most important bills of the year for the financial community.

Deputy Finance Minister Cohen said the government looks upon this bill as part of the foundation and cornerstone for advancing Israel’s high tech companies to the next level.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 34-0 and was transferred to the Finance Committee.

Amendment on the Bank of Israel Bill

MK Orbach (J.H.) explained that the amendment would force the Bank of Israel to adjust banknotes and coins for the blind when they come out with new bills and coins later this year. He explained that this is the standard law in Europe, although America does not assist the blind in this manner.

Deputy Minister Cohen said that the ministers fell in love with the bill and the government agrees to advance the bill.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 30-1 and was transferred to the Finance Committee. MK Solodkin (Kadima) voted against the bill by mistake and Speaker Rivlin refused to change her vote. He told her to pay more attention because voting is what she is being paid for.

Amendment on the Business Licensing Bill

MK Miller (Y.B.) explained that the amendment would expand the maximum occupancy of public entertainment places from 1 meter per person to .7 meters per person. He said that in America the standard is .5 meters and in Europe it is even less. Miller said that every club and bar breaks the law on a daily basis and something must be done to change it.

Deputy Minister Cohen thanked MK Miller for amending another outdated bill in order to keep Israel in line with other western modern countries.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 34-0 and was transferred to the Interior Committee.

Amendment of the Income Tax Ordinance

MK Shitrit (Kadima) explained that his amendment would exempt women from reporting taxes for a business run from their own home that does not gross more than 70,000 NIS per year. He said that the price of reporting taxes usually ends up being more than the amount they make each year. Shitrit said this was the least political bill he has ever proposed and he begs the Knesset not to kill this very important bill.

Speaker Rivlin said this is one the most logical bills he has heard and does not understand why it was not passed beforehand. Deputy Minister Cohen got up to explain the bill and Speaker Rivlin sent him down. Rivlin said that the government should reconsider the bill and not vote it down. Due to Rivlin’s actions there was no vote. This was the first time Speaker Rivlin has acted against the committee of ministers for legislative affairs during the summer session.

Amendment on the National Health Insurance Bill

MK Oron (Meretz) said his amendment would grant doctor house visits to people with disabilities. He criticized the government for burying every law that was advanced in previous Knessets.

Deputy Health Minister Litzman (U.T.J.) said he has witnessed three historic accomplishments this week: the Health Ministry’s decision to grant free dental care to all children under the age of eight, a fickle affair over the last few years; the Knesset having its first sexual harassment seminar; and the Female Egg Donation Bill, which passed after a decade-long debate. Litzman cited these examples to show that the government is not afraid to tackle long standing problems. He said he understands the problem Oron is raising, but he disagrees with his solutions. Litzman offended Oron when he said that Oron’s solutions go against the Basic Law: the respects and freedoms of people. Therefore the government asks the Knesset to vote against it.

The bill was defeated 29-43

Amendment on the Welfare Services Bill

MK Solodkin explained her amendment would change the composition of the appeals committee in adoption cases and cases regarding the decision on where children live in custody battles. The new members of the committee would be more lenient. She mentioned that the bill was first proposed by Minister Sa’ar when he was an MK and the bill passed its first reading. She questioned why he now opposes it.

Minister Erdan (Likud) said that the government wanted to review the bill longer, but MK Solodkin forced the government to give an answer now – so they opposed.

The bill was defeated 25-47.

Amendment on the Land Bill

MK Shai (Kadima) explained his amendment would place a restriction on the transfer of land rights to foreigners. He explained the current situation allows outside hostile forces to take control of certain areas. He said this bill is a historic monument in Israel’s quest of securing its citizens.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 27-0 and was transferred to the Justice Committee.

Amendment on the Flag, Emblem and Anthem of the State Bill

MK Mofaz (Kadima) explained his amendment would force public institutions to wave the Israeli flag on every work day.

Minister Margi (Shas) said that the government supports the bill.

The bill passed its first reading 28-3 and was transferred to the Interior Committee.

  • The Local Authorities Bill amendment which would cancel the merging of local councils Baka al Gharbiya and Get was postponed and taken off the agenda.

Motion on the establishment of an international commission of inquiry to examine Israel’s actions in stopping Gaza flotilla

MK Walhaba (Kadima) criticized Netanyahu’s speech following the Flotilla affair in which Netanyahu told the world they were hypocrites. He noted that the Flotilla had been planned from February and it is a pity the government did not act wisely within the four month time frame they were given. He charged that not only did the cabinet not vote on the issue, but the seven-man security cabinet did not vote on the issue either. He labeled the big three (Netanyahu, Barak and Liberman) as the only ones who discussed Israel’s response to the Flotilla. He called for a probe that will investigate whether the right decision was made.

MK Agbaria (Chadash) said that the Flotilla was a union of people from dozens of countries who are opposed to the Gaza blockade.

MK Zachalka (Balad) said Israel violated international law in the Flotilla affair. He said that every country condemned Israel, including their friend America. Zachalka said that Israel is rejecting an international probe because they know that the probe will find Israel responsible. He credited the Flotilla with bringing Israel’s three year blockade to the front papers where it belongs. Zachalka called Defense Minister Barak a dangerous man. He summarized his speech by calling Israel a “Criminal State”.

MK Orlev (J.H.) stated that anyone who was against Israel’s response to the Flotilla is a person who denies Israel’s right to self defense and a policy that secures its citizens. Orlev said that because the Arab MKs reject Israel as a Jewish democratic state, their words have no legitimacy. He questioned why no one wants a probe on the Rachel Carrie boat. Orlev answered that it is because there were no terrorists on the Rachel Carrie who attacked Israeli soldiers. He asked that the Israeli probe not investigate issues of self defense and instead focus on intelligence and public relations.

MK Ariel (N.U.) eulogized Harav Moredachi Eliyahu and discussed the legacy of the rabbi who had 150,000 people at his funeral. He explained the mitzvah of “one who comes to kill you, rise up first and kill him”, otherwise known as self defense. Ariel reminded everyone that the five other ships were peaceful. Ariel blasted the government decision to deport those who injured Israeli soldiers. He said he understands the international pressure, but by releasing the terrorists Israel promotes terror. Ariel said Hamas has no intention of releasing Gilad Shalit and called for ending the pointless negotiations.

MK Ganem condemned the attack on a mosque near Haifa and made a parallel between the attack on the mosque and the treatment of MK Zoabi. He chose to offer Israel a few sentences of Arabic as his fellow party MK Tibi (Ra’am-Ta’al) snored in his seat. He said Israel must have something to hide if they reject an international probe.

Minister Begin (Likud) addressed the six MKs’ motions with highlights from Hamas Leader Mashal’s latest interview. Mashal stated that there is no cease fire with Israel and that the blockade on Gaza is preventing Hamas from arming themselves for an all out war. The minister said he would like to hope that all 120 MKs agree that Hamas arming themselves for a war is wrong and therefore should support the blockade. He said that if the blockade is justified then the enforcement is justified. If the enforcement of the blockade is justified then Israel’s response to the Flotilla’s hostiles is justified. The IHH foundation that funded the Flotilla was quoted as saying they were going to make it to Gaza or die trying. One of the journalists on the Marmara ship branded the Flotilla a Muslim conquest. Begin assured that everything Israel did was allowed under international law. He said that he had full confidence that the Israeli probe would support every government and military decision in the Flotilla affair. He criticized the type of probe Kadima is calling for, since they have already decided to place the blame on the government for everything that they think went wrong. He asked why Kadima, who supported the government’s decisions, wants a probe on how the government reached those decisions. Begin said he viewed the issue as hypocrisy. He said that no government can run if they are asked to authorize a probe every time a decision is made in discretion. Begin took a minute to criticize a journalist who wrote a commentary which was titled “Begin is an idiot”. He went on to criticize the international community who send their troops 5,000 miles to Afghanistan and criticize Israel, who defends its borders.

MK Ze’ev condemned MK Tibi who cursed the Yisrael Beytanu MKs in Russian and incited violence against them.

MK Asana said that the problem with Israel’s government is that not one country agrees with them. He also said that he is against the occupation of Palestine.

MK Yoel Hasson (Kadima) said he supported the government’s decision to enforce the blockade, but he didn’t support the way the government decisions are made in general.

MK Tibi said when Israel invades international waters and kills citizens of other countries they need to answer for it. He said that if there were weapons on the boat he thinks the world would have seen it on television.

The Knesset voted 5 in favor of further discussion in the plenum and 10 in favor of sending it to the House Committee. Therefore there will be no plenum discussion and the House Committee will decide which committee the motion will be sent to.

Motion on the Israeli Hasbara against anti-Israel demonstrations in Europe and Turkey

MK Shai criticized the new hasbara ministry of not doing its job. He does not blame Hasbara Minister Edelstein, but he does blame the government. He said that there should have been a plan to counter the Flotilla propaganda. Shai said we don’t want to win the battle, we want to win the war.

MK Amsalam (Shas) asked why our hasbara was so bad. He asked why the world never asked for an international probe into Afghanistan or Iraq. His answer was that historically the world has been against the Jews. He suggested all Jews return to Judaism and then we will truly be a light unto the other nations.

MK Moses (U.T.J.) suggested the probe should examine why the international community is condemning us for defending ourselves.

MK Cabel said that the government has some nerve to think that the sole person that is responsible for Israeli hasbara is Minister Edelstein. He respects Edelstein but says the higher ministers should also take part in the hasbara as well. Cabel suggested that Deputy Prime Minister Ya’alon, who was acting Prime Minister at the time of the Flotilla, is the one who acted unwisely and that he should be investigated by the probe.

Hasbara Minister Edelstein (Likud) addressed the four speakers by saying that he takes partial responsibility for Israel’s failure in the hasbara around the Flotilla affair.  He stated that the international fall out is highly exaggerated. Edelstein said that the Israeli media is exaggerating Israel’s poor standing in the international media and questioned if they were watching Fox News, CNN or Al-Jazeera? Edelstein said the job of hasbara is not to decide Israeli policy but to portray that policy to the international media, therefore the question of did the hasbara fail is a matter of perception. He recalled a session he attended in the European Union where he defended Ehud Barak during a motion that stated that Barak kills Palestinian kids every day for kicks before he eats his breakfast. He said that hasbara in these issues will not present a knock out. Edelstein says that his ministry is doing a lot of good work and discussed a meeting he had before the session with a White House official.

MK Michaeli (Y.B.) quoted one of Foreign Minister Liberman’s interviews on the hasbara of the Flotilla affair.

MK Regev (Likud) asked that Edelstein join the security cabinet so that he can be better informed of Israeli decisions and prepare for his job accordingly.

MK Yoel Hasson asked that Edelstein ask for more power so that his ministry becomes one of the more important ministries in the government.

MK Michaeli (Shas) said that the government should trust the coalition MKs to be part of the hasbara effort.

MK Wilf (Labor) criticized Foreign Minister Liberman for not doing enough in the hasbara effort during the Flotilla affair.

MK Pelsner (Kadima) said that Israel must change its policy in order to have a better hasbara effort.

MK Gilon (Meretz) said Israel needs to act more and talk less.

Minister Begin criticized Pelsner and reminded him that Netanyahu’s government is following the policy set by Kadima Prime Minister Olmert.

The Knesset voted 5 in favor of further discussion in the plenum and 5 in favor of sending it to the Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee. Deputy Speaker Tibi ruled that the tie would be in favor of sending the motion to the committee.

Motion on the demonstration by the Peace Now movement and the confrontation between right and left activists

MK Smalatov-Berkovitz (Kadima) criticized the demonstration that takes place every year against the government decision to go ahead with the six day war. The demonstration this year turned into a solidarity movement with the Flotilla, and MK Zoabi spoke to the international press stating she is not a member of the Israeli people, but a citizen of the world. Smalatov-Berkovitz said these organizers say they want peace, yet many of the participants call for a war against the Jewish people. Deputy Speaker Tibi chose to stop the MK’s speech in the middle and asked her to step off the podium. Smalatov-Berkovitz did not end her speech then and went on for another minute. She asked that Homeland Security Minister Aharonovitz not permit these types of protests in the future.

MK Gilon said there is a new wave of patriotic orgies. Gilon said orgy in various parts of the speech, but I will spare you where he chose to insert that word. Gilon criticized the “occupation”, now in its 43rd year. He condemned the right wing counter protesters and the new wave of patriotism. Gilon spent the rest of his speech attacking MK Smalatov-Berkovitz.

Deputy Speaker Magadla (Labor) forbade MK Smalatov-Berkovitz from defending herself and suggested she join next year’s counter demonstration. He asked her when she made aliyah. When she responded 1979, Magadla reminded her that all the Arab MKs were here before her and witnessed the six day war personally. He suggested that she check what the leaders of Israel said about the occupied territories after the war. Deputy Speaker Magadla went on to discuss the motion from the Speaker’s chair. He quoted Prime Minister Eshkol that the point of keeping the territory conquered during the six day war was in order to negotiate a lasting peace with Israel’s neighbors. Magadla charged that was when Israel lost its standing in the international arena. MK Ze’ev heckled him and soon all the Jewish MKs joined. Magadla chose to stop speaking and bring up Tibi who had just returned from the bathroom.

MK Tibi said this was the month of Kahaneh in the Knesset, and perhaps the entire summer session is the summer of Kahaneh. He asked why protesters are being criticized when it is a legitimate democratic right to protest. Tibi switched back with Magadla, so that he would be able to speak.

MK Magadla said that some might call it freed land and some might call it occupied land. The important thing is that it becomes part of the dialogue. He pointed to MK Gilon as one of many Jews who agree with him. Magadla said there would be no peace without the return to the 1967 borders.

Minister Begin said that the police secured the protest and the counter protest and had many undercover policemen ready in case of a disturbance. One person did throw a grenade, and he was arrested. There may have been verbal abuse, but not one person has filed a complaint about being attacked in the protest.

MK Oron said he doesn’t go to protests where the majority of Israel agrees with him. He said if everyone agreed with him there wouldn’t be a protest. Oron said he wouldn’t protest in Sderot when he can protest in Tel Aviv.

MK Yoel Hasson said that most Israelis are patriots and that Kadima is very proud not to be part of Meretz. He reminded that Kadima’s 28 MKs is more than Meretz’s 3 MKs. He said that even though he disagreed with the protest the beauty of Israel’s democracy is that everyone is allowed to protest.

MK Pelsner echoed MK Hasson’s speech and added as long as people protest that means they believe they can change things and that they believe in democracy.

The Knesset agreed not to vote on the motion and to defeat it.

Motion on the allocation of public housing for homeless residents and young couples in urban land developments that have not yet been marketed

MK Regev said that in the 1950s and the 1990s the country took in millions and found them housing. She charged that the country could find a solution for every person to have a home if they wanted to. She said that an ever-increasing number of couples are returning to live in their parents’ houses and that this situation is unacceptable for a modern country. Regev said that we are in a housing crisis where people can’t afford homes.

MK Moses said that the Treasury “boys” are dictating the housing policy and asked the minister to dismiss their heartless and radical projections. Moses reminded that when Netanyahu was Finance Minister he cut off the Treasury boys’ heads and did what he wanted – and that saved Israel’s economy. He charged that most of the time we listen to the Treasury boys and most of the time they are wrong. He said that the density of the population is between Hadera and Gadera and the public should be provided housing outside of that area. He said he supports the new projects in Safed and Bet Shemesh, but he says the Chareidi community alone has a shortage of 40,000 housing units today, not to mention the other sectors.

Housing and Construction Minister Attias (Shas) said that he is doing everything he can to provide more public housing and that he is bound by current laws and regulations. Attias cited his many accomplishments over the past year as reasons why they should trust he will solve this issue over the next few years of his term. He said that he has 15,000 apartments ready to be marketed in Rosh Hayan but can’t market them until they finish building a new interchange on the number 5 highway, which are the responsibilities of the Transportation ministry. Attias also placed a lot of the blame on the Finance ministry and mayors who don’t want to cooperate and receive lower income families.

The motion was passed 7-0 and transferred to the Funds Committee.

Motion on the criticism and debate around the conduct and delay of the construction of the Jerusalem light railway

MK Ze’ev, former Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem, complained that the Justice and Finance Ministers do not show up to motion debates and therefore he doesn’t get a clear government position. He said that the endless delays have caused people to leave Jerusalem. Ze’ev asked how ambulances can treat terrorist attack victims if all it takes is a traffic light to fall and the city is closed for an hour. He criticized that Citypass no longer has an end date for the light rail project and asked where the billions of NIS have gone. Ze’ev also asked why we wasted money on a stupid bridge no one uses.

Minister Attias said the Transportation ministry assures the light rail will be completed by April 2011.

MK Adato (Kadima) said that the light rail project must be investigated with a probe.

MK Moses said there must be a solution for emergency services to enter the center of the city.

The motion passed 6-0 and was transferred to the Finance Committee.

Tueday’s session of two hours and forty five minutes was short and sweet. Most of the day was in the theme of Sexual Harassment Prevention Day and influenced by the seminar the MKs attended on the subject before the session. Following the one minute speeches, Aliyah and Absorption Minister Landvour gave a one hour question free-for-all. This being her first time she answered any queries since she took office over a year ago. Check out her answer to MK Ariel’s question about the Machal soldiers who opt not to make aliyah because of the Army’s stubbornness. Afterwards, MK Tirosh’s amendment on the Financial Securities Bill was passed in its third reading. Homeland Security Minister Aharonovitz led a special discussion on dealing with the violence in Israeli society. Following the interesting discussion, an amendment on the sexual harassment prevention bill that would widen its influence, co-sponsored by MK’s Orlev and Schneller, was passed in its first reading. In other news, MK Ben-Simon was removed from the Finance Committee.

One Minute Speeches

8 of the 19 MKs discussed Sexual Harassment Prevention Day.

MK Gilon (Meretz), MK Shai (Kadima), MK Peretz (Labor), MK Oron (Meretz), MK Mula (Kadima), MK Agbriah (Chadash), MK Levi-Abukasis (Y.B.) and MK Rotem (Y.B.) talked about sexual harassment prevention day and the 90 minute seminar the MKs attended before the session. 30 MKs participated in the seminar.

MK Orbach (J.H.) asked why MKs only use Arabic and Russian in order to insult each other.

MK A-Sana (Ra’am-Ta’al) said that the Knesset is a place where the minority must be protected.

MK Ketzeleh (N.U.) talked about a new museum being founded called the “Netanyahu Museum” that portrays pictures of women being harassed by male soldiers during outpost evacuations.

MK Magadla (Labor) said that he received many emails this week from people who regularly watch channel 99.

MK Finan (Likud) criticized public school principals who refuse to enforce the new law that asks students to wear Kippot when they learn Torah.

MK Schneller (Kadima) talked about the definition of morality and ethics.

MK Ganem (Ra’am-Ta’al) talked about the beauty of the Arabic language.

MK Eldad (N.U.) discussed the Egyptian opening of the Rafah crossing. This, he said, in reality is the end of the Gaza blockade.

MK Bibi (Kadima) apologized for his actions last Wednesday and asked the Arab MKs to forgive him.

MK Tirosh (Kadima) discussed Gilad Shalit.

MK Amsalam (Shas) eulogized Harav Mordechai Eliyahu.

Question Hour with Aliyah and Absorption Minister Landvour (Y.B.)

MK Tzartzur (Ra’am-Ta’al) asked why Arabs are not allowed to immigrate to Israel.

The minister answered the MK should ask the Interior Minister.

MK Zoaretz (Kadima) asked what the ministry does to assist new immigrants in finding jobs.

The minister answered there are programs in the ministries for Ethiopian and Russian immigrants.

MK Mula asked if the ministry provides housing to older immigrants who have no job or money. He also asked why there are not enough Ethiopians working in her ministry.

The minister answered there is a budget for older immigrants and they are taken care of. She added that Ethiopians are hired in affirmative action and she even has high level managers that are Ethiopians.

MK Cabel (Labor) asked what the ministry is doing for the Jews in danger in Yemen.

The minister said she would not discuss the matter from the podium, but would inform the MK through the proper channels on the situation.

MK Rotem asked about the ministry’s new plan for bring back citizens who have left the country.

The minister said 11,000 returned under the new plan last year and we are hoping that next year the number will grow more.

MK Michaeli (Shas) thanked the minister for coming to the Knesset for the first time in over a year to answer queries. He asked if the ministry is encouraging aliyah of teenagers. Michaeli also asked why there is a lack of public housing for immigrants.

The minister said she had 12,000 requests for public housing from immigrants and she only had 500 houses to give out. She said that there are programs for younger immigrants.

MK Ariel (N.U.) asked about immigrants who came as volunteers for Machal and are forced to do three years if they decide to make aliya. He asked what can be done so that they don’t run back to America instead of staying here.

The minister said she is aware of the issue but says that the I.D.F. is not willing to change its policy.

MK Ben-Ari (N.U.) asked why the Ethiopian school in Kedumim is not receiving funding for their dormitories.

The minister said it is a question for the Education Minister.

MK Mula asked why immigration was removed from her ministry and given to the prime minister’s office.

The minister answered that former Prime Minister Olmert had made that decision.

Amendment on the Financial Securities Bill

MK Gafni (U.T.J.) explained the amendment would allow “self-scene” merchant accounts to be authorized in Israel. There was no explanation of what “self-scene” accounts are, but maybe people who work in the stock markets and banks have some clue.

MK Tirosh thanked MK Gafni, Chairman of the Funds Committee, for advancing her bill, despite their disagreements. She explained the bill would help simple people not lose all their money in accounts they have little knowledge about. She explained that the bill will only become law in three months.

The bill passed 12-0 in its second reading and 12-0 in its third reading.

Special Discussion on “dealing with the violence in Israeli society”

Homeland Security Minister Aharonovitz (Y.B.) said he called for a special discussion today in order to put an emphasis on sexual harassment, a form of violence.

MK Magadla, MK Cabel, MK Michaeli (Shas) and MK Ze’ev all gave speeches saying the violence today is a result of poor education, bad parenting and alcoholism.

Minister Aharonovitz agreed with the four MKs on the three main causes of violence. The minister said that he is working on strict laws to counteract teen abuse of alcohol, among them raising the taxes on inexpensive vodka and beer. MK Rotem told the minister he should add wine to the list too.

Amendment on “sexual harassment prevention bill”

MK Orlev (J.H.) explained the amendment that he is sponsoring with MK Shneller will expand the coverage of the bill to the alternative medicine field and to spiritual leaders as well. He explained that the amendment is a merging of both MKs’ amendments that had previously passed in their preliminary readings.

MK Ze’ev blamed sexual harassment on television in general and reality shows in particular, which give the kids bad role models. He said he is very proud of his kids’ 20:00 bedtime.

MK Levi-Abukasis expressed her support for the bill and recounted stories of child sexual abuse from newspapers.

MK Shneller said the bill is about education, not punishment. He labeled the law a Jewish law of ethics. Schneller also talked about defeating one’s urges and the fine line between seduction and sexual harassment. MK Ben-Ari added he agreed with MK Ze’ev’s words.

The bill passed in its first reading 11-0 and was sent to the Status of Women Committee. הצג סקריפט אנגלי

Other Notes:

  • A  report was given on participating in a ceremony unveiling a monument to Holocaust victims in Greece – by MK Ruhama Avraham–Balila (Kadima).
  • MK Bensimon (Labor) has been removed from the Finance Committee in favor of MK Magadla (Labor). This was probably done as a punishment for his behavior in the French press over the Flotilla affair.
  • The motion on “the suicide of Shai Abramov, the leader of a sect who abused women” was taken off the agenda by Deputy Speaker Avraham-Balila