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
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