Last Wednesday’s session lasted almost ten hours. The Knesset discussed 12 bills, passing eight in their preliminary readings, turning two into motions that were passed and defeating the last two. The Yair Lapid Law passed, despite MKs Orbach and Tibi’s impressive speeches against the bill. House Committee Chairman Yariv Levin caused a stir when he voted against the government’s position on the Amendment to the Equal Opportunities Bill. Two bills were also passed through the continuity clause.

Short Summary on Non-Bills

  • The Prime-Minister was forced to give a speech in response to the 40 MK petition on the subject of “Conduct on the failed policy of the Netanyahu government and the collapse of Israel’s status”. The speech was approved by a vote of 41-22.
  • Urgent queries were answered by the Homeland Security and Transportation Ministers as well as the Deputy Health Minister.
  • Speaker Rivlin gave a warm speech to the Italian Parliament delegation.
  • The Knesset discussed seven motions and attendance was low. The Knesset passed 3 motions 13-1, 4-0 and 4-0. Another motion was split into two, with one half passing 8-0 while the other was defeated 3-8. The MKs agreed to defeat three other motions by not voting on them.
  • The Communication Minister answered queries at the end of the session.

Amendment to the Copyright Bill

MK Levin (Likud) explained his amendment would help protect record producers’ rights within copyright laws.

Justice Minister Neaman expressed government support for the bill.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 33-0 and was sent to the Finance Committee.

Amendment on Traffic Ordinance

MK Maklev (U.T.J.) explained his amendment would require the installation of sensors on trucks. The requirement would go into effect for trucks manufactured in 2011 and onward.

Transportation Minister Katz (Likud) said the government opposes many aspects of the amendment. He explained that there is good will in the amendment but he feared that the public will not be able to handle it. He agreed to let the bill pass its preliminary reading but doubted that it would be advanced in the future.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 38-0 and was sent to the Finance Committee.

Amendment to the Disengagement Bill

MK Elkin (Likud) explained that the amendment would assist the companies affected by the disengagement. He complained that the government has not done enough for the evacuated citizens.

Minister Erdan (Likud) said that the government is in the process of developing their own amendment, but because it will take time, the government agreed to support this one in the meantime.

MK Oron (Meretz) explained his objection to what he dubbed a “popular bill” riding a wave of giving out money to settlers. He complained that there would not be a preference given to the settlers who evicted themselves by will and that the law abiding citizens will sit in the same boat as those who forced soldiers to take them out of their houses. He also suggested that Israeli companies that had businesses in the Erez crossing also be included in the bill.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 39-2 and was sent to the Finance Committee.

Amendment to the Local Authorities Bill

Minister Erdan explained that the amendment would limit the terms of legal advisers and treasurers in cities. He said that public jobs that are lifetime appointments are unacceptable, and if these people want to keep their jobs for 20-30 years as they presently do, they must be re-elected by the city council. He suggested the committee decide how long a term should be.

MK Gafni (U.T.J.) said he was one of the co-sponsors of the bill, but he is not going to vote in favor of it. He said the legal advisers have too much power and they must be limited and suggested that the Knesset also adapt this law. However, he said treasurers should not be included in the bill, and that is why he is not voting for it. He said he doesn’t see the connection between the legal advisers and treasures.

MK Elkin said that perhaps the two should not be together. However, he asked how a co-sponsor could vote against his own bill. Elkin suggested that the committee make the decision if the two should be discussed together.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 33-0, with MK Gafni abstaining. The bill was sent to the House Committee to decide if the bill should go to the Finance or Interior Committee.

Amendment to the Equal Opportunities Bill

MK Tibi (Ra’am-Ta’al) explained his amendment would add a representative of the Arab population to the advisory committee of equal opportunities.

Deputy Industry and Trade Minister Noked (Labor) expressed the government’s support of the bill.

MK Levin said he was shocked the government is supporting the bill. He asked what the end game was. Levin asked where the Druze, Christians and other minorities who are supportive of the country are in this bill. He condemned the bill and expressed frustration that the government would support the bill. He announced that he will go against the government and vote against this bill.

Minorities Minister Braverman (Labor) said this is one small step that will help bridge the gap between the Arabs and Jews.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 36-1 (MK Levin was the only one to object) and was sent to the Labor Committee.

Amendment to the Consumer Protection Bill

MK Tirosh (Kadima) explained her amendment would assist in matters of store credit. She complained that if the consumer does not use the store credit within 30 days, he does not receive a refund. Her amendment would eliminate a time limit for a refund in store credit matters and that the refund would be printed on inerasable paper. She hopes that this will encourage stores to refund customers with money in order to not go through this process. The amendment will include lifting a time limit on food vouchers as well.

Deputy Minister Noked said that the government has a similar bill coming. Noked said that the government supports the bill as long as it will be merged with the government one when it is ready.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 33-0 and was sent to the Finance Committee.

Amendment/Motion on the Airport Authority Bill

MK Bielski (Kadima) explained his amendment would obligate the government to cease operation of the Hertzeliya Airport. He complained that the 531 highway in the area has not been dealt with for 41 years because of the airport. He asked that the land be used for housing. Bielski explained that the airport causes noise for neighbors and the local nursing home and causes traffic accidents because the road is not built well around the airport. Bielski expressed that he has dreamed of this bill for over twenty years and hopes that it passes.

Transportation Minister Katz noted that MK Bielski’s speeches are getting better. The minister added that MK Vaknin (Shas) is dealing with the 531 highway issue and it should be resolved within a year. He added that the government has already agreed to close the Hertzeliya airport; he mentioned that the decision was made a year ago. Katz explained that the airport will remain open until they can find another place to house the air school. Katz explained that the bill is unnecessary and the issue should be turned in to a motion.

MK Bielski thanked Katz for the policy and agreed to turn the amendment into a motion.

The motion was passed 34-0 and was sent to the Finance Committee.

Amendment/Motion on the Basic Law: Budget Bill

MK Shneller (Kadima) explained his amendment would fund the State Department with a higher budget for hasbara. Shneller attacked the recent strategy of hasbara that started with the apology for the Defensive Shield operation. Shneller demanded that we focus our hasbara on Israelis and Jews throughout the world. He suggested the Hasbara Minister join the security cabinet.

Deputy Finance Minister Cohen (Shas) explained that the budget for hasbara is large enough and that the government can’t add on more money to the deficit. He agreed to support the issue as a motion. However, he expressed the government is opposed to the bill and will vote against it if it is not turned into a motion.

MK Shneller reluctantly agreed to have the issue turned into a motion.

The motion passed 26-0 with 1 abstaining and was sent to the Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee.

Amendment to the Consumer Protection Bill

MK Oron explained his amendment would force the cancellation of a deal due to the sale of a defective product within 14 days. Oron asked why MK Tirosh’s bill received government support and his did not.

Deputy Minister Noked explained that the existing law gives the consumer 30 days. She said the government refuses to support a bill that will hurt the consumer and hinted that Oron didn’t do his homework on this one.

MK Oron refused to withdraw the bill and the bill was defeated 7-33.

Amendment to the State Health Insurance Bill

MK Ganem (Ra’am-Ta’al) explained his amendment would expand eligibility for child development and paramedical services. It would do so by raising the eligible age for the services to 12.

Deputy Health Minister Litzman (U.T.J.) said there is no budget for the bill, so the government opposes it. He said that he felt the age of nine was high enough.

The bill was defeated 7-24.

Two Amendments on the Basic Law: The Knesset (The Yair Lapid Bill)

MK Shama (Likud) explained his amendment would mandate a one year cooling off period for journalists who wish to be elected to the Knesset. He said it is unacceptable for journalists to jump from interviewing politicians to becoming politicians overnight.

MK Tirosh explained that her amendment was the same as MK Shama’s except that she decided that the cooling off period should be shortened to six months instead of a year. She reminded the audience that she gave herself a cooling off period of six months between being director general of the education ministry and becoming an MK. She said that if government employees and military officials must wait six months, journalists should as well.

Justice Minister Neaman said that the government has no opinion and each MK can vote as they wish.

MK Orbach (J.H.) said that he objected to the bill because it would leave the Knesset with its current members. The MKs all started shouting at Orbach, who corrected himself by saying: “I was not referring to the MKs in the room, only the MKs who are not in the room. I’ll put it another way, whoever was insulted by the remark, I was not referring to him”. He accused Kadima and Labor of being afraid of Yair Lapid and supposed the next law would ask for a cooling off period for lawyers too. He added that those who watch television on Friday night will go to hell anyway, so none of this really matters.

MK Itzick (Kadima) went on the stage even though she was not allowed to and said Kadima is not scared of Orbach or Lapid. Minister Eitan (Likud) screamed at Itzick for attempting such a stunt.

MK Tibi said that ever since he entered the Knesset in 1999 the MKs have diminished in value. The MKs all screamed at Tibi, and Tibi screamed back. He asked the MKs of what and who they are afraid. He said the four former journalists who were elected in the previous election have given the Knesset a better name. He asked why there are no professors in Knesset and said the current backbench MKs are worthless. He asked to let the public choose who they want to vote for and judge Yair Lapid for themselves.

Shama’s amendment passed its preliminary reading 32-11 and Tirosh’s amendment passed its preliminary reading 30-12. Both amendments were sent to the Justice Committee. Shamah and Tirosh hugged each other following the vote.

Other Notes

  • MK Levin made a statement on the House Committee’s decisions on the committee destinations of certain bills and motions. Levin also announced committee changes.
  • The Labor Committee request to invoke the continuity clause on the Benefits for Foster Families Bill was passed 18-0.
  • The Finance Committee request to invoke the continuity clause on the Electric Bill amendment on the issue Electrical Work Permits was passed 8-0, despite MK Eldad’s objection speech. MK Eldad lifted his objection and did not vote.
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