The Knesset had a three hour session in the morning discussing eight bills and returned in the afternoon for a special session marking 15 years since the assassination of Prime Minister Rabin that lasted less than an hour. Of the eight bills discussed, three passed their preliminary readings, four were turned into motions in order not to be defeated, and one was defeated after its sponsoring MK refused to turn it into a motion. The three bills advanced included a bill that would allow the demolition of an illegal building at the expense of the owner, a bill that would force drivers to install side mirrors in cars that are used for transporting students, and a bill that would terminate the official position of Future Generations Knesset Commissioner.


Non-Bills Summary

Urgent queries were answered by Deputy Defense Minister Vilnai (Labor), Agriculture Minister Simhon (Labor), Transportation Minister Katz (Likud), Homeland Security Minister Aharonovitch (Y.B.) and Interior Minister Yishai (Shas).

Speaker Reuven Rivlin, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Opposition Leader Tzipi Livni and Defense Minister Ehud Barak (Labor) gave speeches marking 15 years since the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin.

Bills Summary:

Motion/Amendment to the Criminal Procedure Bill

MK Zeev (Shas) explained that his amendment would force the police to send a letter of apology in cases of false arrest and inform the wronged citizen if they are eligible for compensation. Zeev said that citizens being humiliated and arrested then released after the investigation shows they were innocent is a sad event. Many times the arrest and investigation, even if the person is never charged, cause the innocent citizen to lose his house and job. Zeev criticized the police for acting against the bill and said the least they could do was send a letter of apology to wronged citizens. Zeev expressed his belief that letters of apology would reduce the number of court cases against the police and save the government millions of shekels.

Speaker Rivlin told a personal story of the trauma he went through while being investigated years ago, yet he applauded the police for doing their work and expressed his opposition to the bill.

Justice Minister Neeman expressed government opposition to the bill. He explained that the police are already directed by law to send a letter informing the person that they were found innocent. Neeman rejected the idea of forcing the police to apologize and said that it is up to the police to decide if they wanted to say sorry or not when sending the letter of acquittal. The minister proposed that the bill be turned into a motion to allow Zeev to express his opinions in a committee instead. Neeman said that if brought to a vote as a bill the government would oppose it.

MK Zeev gave a strong speech against Neeman’s position but reluctantly agreed to turn the bill into a motion.

The motion was passed 50-3 and sent to the House Committee to determine in which committee the matter should be discussed. MK Zeev did not vote on the motion, expressing his frustration that the government was burying his bill.

Amendment to the Planning and Construction Bill

MK Kirshenbaum (Y.B.) explained her amendment would allow the demolition of an illegal building at the expense of the owner. She expressed frustration that the local city councils do not have the money to demolish illegal homes and therefore leave them standing. It is her hope that if the owners can be billed for the demolition the local city councils will not fear and will start demolishing illegal homes. Kirshenbaum informed the MKs that she had government support.

MK Oron (Meretz) objected to the bill and asked why not a single minister wished to speak from the podium and explain why the government is supporting the bill. Oron said that the bill discriminates against Bedouins and Arabs.

MK Kirshenbaum noted that in 2004 there were 30,000 illegal buildings in Israel. She recalled that in 2003 there were 2,900 court orders to demolish illegal homes in Jerusalem and only 71 buildings have been demolished to date. She explained that the bill will only take effect in Israel’s pre-1967 borders and therefore it is not an anti-Arab bill. The Knesset went into complete pandemonium as the Arab and Meretz MKs all screamed at Kirshenbaum. Speaker Rivlin regained control shortly after.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 42-21 and was sent to the House Committee to assign the appropriate committee in which the bill should be discussed further.

Amendment to the Traffic Ordinance Bill

MK Tirosh (Kadima) explained that her amendment would require drivers to install side mirrors in cars that are used for transporting students. She also discussed her frustration over other traffic laws on new drivers and hit-and-runs that she had proposed that did not receive government support.

Transportation Minister Katz (Likud) expressed government support for this bill. He added that he supports MK Tirosh in her quest to pass many traffic safety measures and wishes her luck in dealing with the justice ministry.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 50-0 and was sent to the Finance Committee.

Amendment to the Knesset Bill

House Committee Chairman MK Levin (Likud) explained his amendment would terminate the position of Future Generations Knesset Commissioner that was instituted by former MK Tommy Lapid (Shinui) in the 1990’s and hasn’t been enforced for years. He added that the position never had a clear definition of its authority and responsibilities and it is time the Knesset eliminates it.

Justice Minister Neeman explained that the government does not have an opinion on the bill since it is an internal Knesset bill.

MK Horowitz (Meretz) reminded the MKs that there was freedom of vote for both coalition and opposition members. He named hundreds of organizations that were against eliminating the position. He quoted Speaker Rivlin from 2001 calling the Future Generations Knesset Commissioner the most important position in the Knesset. He quoted former Minister and current MK Ezra (Kadima) as another person stressing the importance. Horowitz rejected the idea that Future Generations Knesset Commissioner could stall laws and called it an advisory position that only costs the Knesset two million NIS per year. He added that a person who works in the Knesset and does not need to worry about primaries or lobbyists has a good position.

Speaker Rivlin said that the one former Knesset Commissioner appointed, who happened to be a judge, found it unjust that as an appointed official he had power over elected officials and resigned.

MK Gafni (U.T.J.) said that it is impossible to expect a commissioner who is not an elected official to be in charge of the only 120 people that the public does elect. He called on the Knesset to repeal the law and eliminate the position.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 62-6 and was sent to the House Committee.

The Talkback Website Liability Bill/Motion

MK Ganaim (Ra’am-Ta’al) explained that this original bill would consider anything that is written in a talkback on a website admissible in a court of law. The current law allows a person to write whatever they want about anything or anybody, including disclosing private details harmful to other people. Ganaim said that when technology presents a new danger, it is the government’s job to regulate it. He explained that it was high school students from a Civics class in Baka El’Garbeiah who suggested this bill to him.

Communications Minister Kahlon (Likud) expressed the government position that three months is needed to study the issue before determining a position. Kahlon suggested waiting the three months and in the meantime turning the law into a motion to start the discussion in the committee sooner.

MK Ganaim agreed to turn the bill into a motion after the minister agreed to invite the high school students to the committee discussion on the issue.

The motion passed 38-1 and was sent to the House Committee to assign it to the appropriate committee.

Amendment to the Prevent Smoking in Public Places and Exposure to Smoking Bill

MK Yoel Hasson (Kadima) explained his amendment would entice hospitals to enforce the law by allowing them to keep the money they collect in fines. He added that the current situation of the fines going to government spending elsewhere is a big reason why hospitals do not currently enforce the law. He stated that cigarettes kill and second-hand smoke kills too.

Deputy Health Minister Litzman (U.T.J.) expressed government opposition to the bill. He explained that this bill is just like telling meter maids that they can pocket a third of the fines they assess. Litzman said that smoking is bad, but there are better way to prevent smoking than passing this bill.

MK Hasson slammed the government for opposing a bill that is trying to prevent smoking.

The bill was defeated 25-46.

Two Amendments to the Patients Rights Bill

MK Solodkin (Kadima) explained her amendment would require the informed consent document in hospitals to be in different languages, such as Russian, Arabic, English and Amharit. She explained that many patients are forced to sign papers they do not understand and that it is unacceptable.

MK Naffaa (Balad) explained that his similar amendment would change the consent documents so that each patient can understand them. He expressed disappointment that the government was opposed to a bill that could mean life or death.

Deputy Health Minister Litzman (U.T.J.) explained that the current law demands that the hospital explain the consent forms orally and therefore there is no reason to support this law. Litzman stressed that a full oral explanation is more important than a standard written consent form. Litzman added that he previously passed a law that demanded that hospitals give patients a copy of the consent form they signed. He suggested that both laws be turned into motions and discussed in the Health Committee.

MK Solodkin and MK Naffaa agreed to turn their bills into motions and Deputy Speaker Whbee (Kadima) announced that the motions would be merged and voted on as one.

The motions were passed by a single vote of 39-0 and sent to the Health Committee.