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.