Monday’s session was a little over two hours. The session was short due to the opposition’s tradition of not submitting motions of no-confidence as a measure of goodwill when the Prime Minister is abroad. The session also had no motions because of the Kadima MKs who chose instead to join the Gilad Shalit march in Tel-Aviv. The Knesset passed three bills, two in their third reading and one in its first. The Sexual Harassment Bill will change the way men act from now on.

Short Summary on Non-Bills

  • Deputy Finance Minister Litzman requested to enact a continuity clause on a bill that will be voted on in two weeks.
  • The Knesset passed a House Committee request to split a bill into two by a vote of 9-0.
  • Homeland Security Minister Aharonovitz (Y.B.) had a question hour that was cut short by lack of interest.
  • Environmental Minister Erdan (Likud) answered queries at the end of the session.

Amendment on the Preventing Sexual Harassment Bill

Women’s Rights Chairwoman MK Hotoveli (Likud) explained this was a revolutionary law. The current law states that a woman girl who is harassed must prove that she was harassed. The amendment will change the law so that the one who is charged as the harasser will be guilty, until proven innocent. The amendment will include rabbis and other spiritual leaders as public figures who can be prosecuted in this manner.

MK Orlev (J.H.) explained that his bill would lift the immunity of many public figures so that they can be prosecuted. He hinted that this bill was influenced by the police failure to convict Rabbi Mordechai Elon. He was saddened that the maximum punishment for this law is three years. Orlev explained this situation gave him motivation for the bill.

MK Shneller (Kadima) said that no one should be immune from being charged with sexual harassment, religious or otherwise. He said that he was pleased that his practically identical bill could be merged with Orlev’s.

The bill was passed in its second reading 11-0 and in its third reading 12-0.

Amendment on the Health Insurance Bill

MK Adato (Kadima) explained her amendment would allow kupat cholim patients to pay for the exact number of pills they receive in their prescription without having to pay for the whole package.

The bill was passed in its second reading 9-0 and in its third reading 9-0.

Amendment on the Lending Books Bill

Education Minister Saar (Likud) explained that his amendment would allow children to keep the books they receive from the school, in order to hand them down to their younger siblings when the time comes. He said that 1,100 schools are already part of the program and his amendment would make the measure available in all public schools. Saar said this went well with another recent bill which stated that the schools can only change textbooks once every five years. The minister hoped this would help families with many kids save money.

MK Michaeli (Y.B.) said that another bill which would create computer textbooks in place of the paper ones is on the way. Michaeli stated that every house has a computer.

MK Ganem (Ra’am-Ta’al) said this bill will strengthen the connection between the school system and the families of the students.

MK Ze’ev (Shas) said this bill will save paper. He went on to talk about Nir Barkat’s strategy concerning the planned King Park in Jerusalem.

MK Tibi (Ra’am-Ta’al) said that students are scarred for life if they don’t have money to pay for their books, and this law might make the difference in their lives.

MK Ben-Ari (N.U.) expressed that, as a teacher of 21 years and a father of seven, he will vote for the bill. Ben-Ari slammed the schoolbooks today that are more expensive and an environmental waste and that hurt the kids’ health by forcing them to carry the thick books on their backs. He argued that these new books have little purpose and are merely empty fill-in-the-blank books.

MK Orlev (J.H.), the Education Committee chairman, expressed his support for the bill and called on everyone to vote for it.

The bill passed in its first reading 14-0 and was sent to the Education Committee.