Today began the second half of the summer session. It seems the next six weeks, until the summer recess, will be influenced by Wednesday’s chaotic session. Most of Monday’s four hour and 15 minute session was spent debating the no-confidence motions submitted by the five opposition parties on the left and center. Opposition Leader Livni headed the tense debate and Defense Minister Barak answered in the name of the government. 104 MKs were in the building at the height of the day, but most of them were gone by the time the Knesset discussed seven bills, one of which passing its third reading. The Environment Minister and Deputy Defense Minister answered a collective 4 of the 21 queries submitted.

Speaker Rivlin and Deputy Vaknin did a good job preventing a recurrence of last Wednesday, although some of the speeches were very heated, such as those by MK Zoabi, MK Tibi and Defense Minister Barak.

No-Confidence Motions from five of the six opposition parties.

1) Motion on “The attempt of government officials to escape responsibility” by Kadima.

2) Motion on “The decision making, discretion, instructions and restrictions given to the army failed to improve Israel’s response to the Flotilla” by Meretz.

3-5) Motion on “The continued siege of Gaza and a pirated government behavior that is dragging the region to doom” by Ra’am-Ta’al, Chadash and Balad.  These last three motions were all on the same topic, but each had slightly different wording.

Opposition Leader Livni said it might not be the usual thing for an Opposition Leader to give a speech during a no-confidence motion, but these are not normal times. She agreed with Netanyahu’s decision to enforce the Gaza Blockade and talked about how she expressed her support of the I.D.F. throughout her international television interviews. She expressed opposition to an international probe while demanding an Israeli one. Livni asked Netanyahu to be probed in Hebrew so his soldiers would not need to be probed in English. She accused Netanyahu of leading Israel to international isolation and not understanding the fundamental reasoning behind the Gaza blockade. Livni called on the Arab MKs to support Israel and not Hamas. MK Bareka (Chadash) heckled his opposition ally for a few minutes before Speaker Rivlin took control.

MK Tzartzur (Ra’am-Ta’al) recounted the conversation between Israel’s defense minister and Turkey’s foreign minister word for word. Defense Minister Ehud Barak looked stunned that the conversation was leaked and sent his assistants to find out what happened. It turns out that the conversation was leaked by the Turkish foreign minister to the Arab press and was in papers across the Middle East and Europe. Tzartzur supported Helen Thomas’s words that Israel should leave Palestine and return to Germany. He mentioned Gaza unemployment was at 70%. Tzartzur warned of the danger Israel would be in if they maintain the Gaza blockade. He also supported MK Zoabi’s actions.

MK Bareka (Chadash) called Wednesday’s incident a disgrace. He condemned Kadima for supporting the government last week. Bareka also condemned today’s House Committee vote that lifted certain privileges of MK Zoabi. He supported the anti-government rally in Tel Aviv over the weekend on the anniversary of the 1967 six day war. He called himself a Palestinian Arab and not an Israeli Arab and said it is difficult to sit in this parliament. He expressed his position against Zionism and for his party’s communist platform. Bareka went as far as saying that the Arab MKs sitting in the Knesset is a favor to the Jews because it gives the Knesset international legitimacy. He criticized MK Yoel Hasson (Kadima) for trying to attack MK Zoabi. He said that all Israeli Arabs are a part of the Palestinian public and “when they hurt, we hurt too”. He placed the blame for the Flotilla’s deaths on Netanyahu and Barak.

MK Gilon (Meretz) called Wednesday the most depressing day he has had as an MK and gave a long lecture to both sides. He accused Ben-Ari (N.U.) of leading most of the government’s decisions; Ben-Ari laughed and left the session. Gilon called for a probe into the Flotilla events and criticized the Gaza blockade. He called for direct negotiations with the Palestinians and to advance the peace process. He called on Kadima to join the government and to free the full list of prisoners in exchange for Gilad Shalit.

MK Zachalka (Balad) said that the Jewish parties acted in evil on Wednesday. He said that Balad will continue to say exactly what they want to say and the Knesset will not be Arab-free or Palestinian-free. He said that Balad is the answer to Yisrael Beytanu. He praised the wall-to-wall support his party is receiving from almost every country around the globe. He said the root of Israel’s problems is that “they are not right and, from a philosophical stand point, are wrong”. He said it is easier for Israelis to accuse MK Zoabi than to explain their point of view to the world. He warned that Balad would not disappear if they are thrown out of Knesset. Zachalka called Barak dangerous

Following the five sponsors of the no-confidence motions, each party sent a representative to give their party’s official position.

MK Shai (Kadima) said that every day Gilad Shalit is prohibited from Red Cross visitations, Israel is allowed to impose a Gaza blockade. He asked how Israel could have fallen to such a low point internationally. He called on Defense Minister Barak to resign his post and join the opposition.

MK Miller (Y.B.) asked how Balad, whose former party leader Azmi Bashara is wanted for treason for spying for Hezbollah during the Lebanon war, is allowed to preach to Israelis on who is right and who is wrong.

MK Ze’ev (Shas) said that the war cries from the Turkish ship about being martyrs is a new reality. He asked why the Arab MKs, who are traitors and wave Palestinian flags on Israel’s Independence Day, are allowed to speak from the Knesset podium. MK Agbariah (Chadash) heckled the speech and Deputy Vaknin (Shas) silenced him. He called the Flotilla a terrorist attack aimed at delegitimizing Israel. He said we need laws that will force all MKs to pledge allegiance to the State.

MK Chanin (Chadash) said Wednesday’s session was pure incitement against Arab MKs. He accused the Knesset’s move to the right as problematic for the whole Israeli public, which is adapting their dangerous views. He quoted a communist author to express his views. Chanin supported the peace rally in Tel Aviv and criticized the right-wing counter protest. He criticized the Gaza blockade and called for bringing down the government.

MK Oron (Meretz) said that Wednesday was not an isolated case of incitement against Arab MKs. Oron said that Yisrael Beytanu is 100 times more dangerous than Balad. Three Y.B. MKs heckled the rest of Oron’s speech. Oron spoke against lifting MK Zoabi’s immunity.

MK Tibi (Ra’am-Ta’al) labeled last week “Kahane Week” in the Knesset. He said the Jewish MKs’ Arabic needs work. Tibi cursed the Y.B. MKs in Russian. The session got out of control for a few minutes, but Deputy Vaknin regained control.

MK Ben-Ari (N.U.) said that Israel is standing behind its soldiers, unlike the last three speakers. Ben-Ari praised the protests in favor of the troops. He gave a long eulogy for Rav Mordechai Eliyahu who passed away this afternoon. He went on to dismiss the incitement and racist allegations against him.

MK Orbach (J.H.) also eulogized Rav Eliyahu. He went on to support lifting privileges of MKs who use those privileges to harm the country. Orbach criticized Wednesday’s session and called on the Jewish MKs to contain themselves.

MK Zoabi (Balad) supported her party’s no-confidence motion and the people in Gaza. The session got out of control from the beginning, as once again all the Jewish parties refused to let her speak. Deputy Speaker Vaknin took control of the session and threatened to remove all the trouble makers. Zoabi asked that Israel end its occupation and allow the right of return to Palestinians within the 1948 borders.

Deputy Minister Litzman (U.T.J.) said his party stood behind the government completely on all five no-confidence motions.

MK Okinus (Likud) said that the chant “go back to Auschwitz” proved the Flotilla was not peaceful but instead a terrorist attack. He criticized Kadima, who supported the government for two days and on that historic Wednesday issued no-confidence motions to be debated the following week. He said that move was a disgrace to the Kadima MKs, as this was not what their voters asked for. Okinus said every Kadima MK who votes for the no-confidence motion of the Arabs are disgusting.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak said despite the violence, the mission of maintaining the Gaza blockade and bringing the Flotilla to Ashdod was successful. He said that Israeli soldiers will not be probed in English or in Hebrew. Barak said Israel will not apologize for securing its citizens. The Kadima MKs heckled Barak’s speech, but Speaker Rivlin maintained order. Barak said the one in true need of humanitarian aid is Gilad Shalit. The Arab MKs heckled Barak’s speech from this point on. Barak said that he has seen a lot of missions in his day and that this military mission was successful. He said that he was also Defense Minister under Olmert and can say that Netanyahu made these decisions in a more professional way than previous governments. Kadima started heckling, and Speaker Rivlin regained control of the session.

The Knesset defeated the five motions of no-confidence.

Kadima’s motion lost 25-59, with nine Arab MKs abstaining. Ra’am-Ta’al’s lost 8-81 with two abstaining. Chadash’s lost 9-81. Meretz’s lost 9-58 with 10 abstaining. Balad’s lost 7-80 with two abstaining.

Female Egg Donation Bill

MK Chaim Katz (Likud) said that it took ten years and three different Knessets to finally bring this bill up for its second and third readings. This would allow women to donate eggs for scientific research and for artificial insemination. Katz gave a very long speech explaining the complicated technicalities around the bill that were discussed in the Labor, Health and Welfare Committee. It should be noted that none of the Chareidi MKs were present for the discussion or vote.

The bill passed its second reading 24-0 and its third reading 25-0.

Labor, Health and Welfare Committee’s request to apply the continuity clause to the Foster Family Benefits Bill

MK Chaim Katz asked the Knesset to apply the continuity clause to revive a bill from the previous Knesset that passed its first reading in 2008.

The Knesset has two weeks to object before the issue is voted on.

Finance Committee’s request to apply the continuity law on the Electricity Bill

MK Okunis said the amendment from 2008 would limit the types of electrical licenses to two, instead of the current twelve.

The Knesset has two weeks to object before the issue is voted on.

Post National Service and Military Rights Bill

MK Rotem (Y.B.) expressed disappointment that his bill would be merged into a government bill.

Deputy Minister Gamliel (Likud) said the only grounds for government approval on this bill are if Rotem agrees to have the bill merged.

MK Rotem (Y.B.) said he would agree to merge most of the articles of the bill and Gamliel agreed to grant government approval.

The bill passed 19-0 in its preliminary reading and was sent to the House Committee in order to split the bill according to Rotem’s request.

Veterans Absorption bill

Deputy Minister Gamliel explained that her government bill would invest in the younger generation so that they become successful and do not become a liability. The money will go to culture, higher education and cheaper housing. She said the bill would go into effect for the next school year.

The bill passed its first reading 20-0 and was sent to the Labor, Health and Welfare Committee.

Shipping Bill

Minister Margi (Shas) explained in the name of the Transportation Minister that the amendment on the bill would redefine what a sailor is in order to include smaller boats.

MK Ketzeleh (N.U.) used the time to eulogize Rav Mordechai Eliyahu.

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

Security Service Bill

Deputy Defense Minister Vilnai explained that the temporary provision placing the security prisoners in the Prison Service care must be extended until December, when the Defense Minister’s committee makes a final suggestion on what to do to solve the situation. (In the past, security prisoners were under I.D.F. responsibility.)

MK Ze’ev said he supported the bill but asked why they need a temporary provision; he expressed support of permanently placing the security prisoners in the Prison Services hands.

MK Mula (Kadima) said his party supported the amendment but opposed temporary provisions. Mula said his party will not support extending the provision again in December. He said it is time to make these temporary bills permanent so they do not need to be extended every six months.

The bill passed its first reading 7-0 and was sent to the House Committee to determine which committee it will be sent to.

Queries to Deputy Defense Minister Vilnai

MK Ze’ev said that the Mosques in eastern Jerusalem are too loud and cause problems for Jerusalem’s Ne’ve Ya’akov neighborhood. He also complained the noise gets to his neighborhood in the Bar Ilan area.

Vilnai said this was nothing new and nothing new will be done to prevent it.

7 queries were sent to the protocol because their MKs were not present.

Queries to Environmental Minister

MK Michaeli (Shas) asked about the pollution of the Yarkon River. He asked why people are allowed to barbeque in the area.

The minister answered there is a lot of pollution in the area, but there are no easy answers. He said he will not allow people to drive into the area and that will prevent the barbeques.

MK Mula asked about schools in Ramat Gan and Kiryat Gat next to antennas that are causing cancer.

The minister answered radiation testing showed very low levels of radiation in Ramat Gan. He said that he doesn’t know about the Kiryat Gat situation, so he can’t answer it.

MK Orbach asked about what environmental actions are being taken in the Gvaot-Adulam region, where there is oil drilling.

The Minister said that the area is under strict environmental supervision. He explained that the Infrastructure ministry has more power than he does due to the Oil Law, which grants the power to drill for oil practically everywhere.

10 queries were sent to the protocol because their MKs were not present.

Other Notes:

  • Speaker Rivlin eulogized Rav Moredechai Eliyahu, the former chief Rabbi of Israel, who passed away today at age 81.
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