Wednesday’s session lasted ten and a half hours.  Eleven bills were discussed, and six of them were advanced after passing their preliminary readings.  Two bills were defeated, two were withdrawn to avoid being defeated and another was turned into a motion. MK Regev shocked the Likud by voting and speaking against the government position and was punished severely. Another highlight of the day was the passing of a bill that will force all Israeli flags to be manufactured in Israel.

Non-Bills Summary

  • Education Minister Sa’ar (Likud), Transportation Minister Katz (Likud) and Deputy Health Minister Litzman (U.T.J.) answered urgent queries to open the session.
  • Speaker Rivlin gave a warm speech to greet the Vice President of Honduras.
  • MK Whbee (Kadima) reported on the Knesset delegation to the fifth meeting of the Mediterranean Parliament.
  • Prime Minister Netanyahu responded to a request from 40 MKs to rebut the opposition’s claim that the “world is against Israel – how Netanyahu’s government isolated Israel in the international arena”.
  • Speaker Rivlin eulogized former minister Sarah Doron, who passed away this week.
  • The Knesset approved two continuity clauses by votes of 38-0 and 22-0.
  • Seven motions were discussed based on the hot news topics of the week.  Six of them were sent to committees by the following votes: 18-0, 12-3, 13-0, 7-0, 4-0 and 4-0. The last motion of the day was not voted on.
  • Housing and Construction Minister Atias (Shas) and Deputy Defense Minister Vilnai (Labor) answered queries to close the session.

Bills Summary

Amendment to the Securities Bill

MK Katz (Likud) explained that his amendment would remove void the obligations of a public company towards its controlling private owners if they don’t show up to board meetings.

Deputy Finance Minister Cohen (Shas) expressed government support for the bill.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 39-0 and was sent to the Labor Committee.

Amendment to the Flag, Emblem and National Anthem Bill

MK Akonis (Likud) explained that his amendment would require all Israeli flags to be manufactured in Israel. He also slammed the Israeli companies that have been outsourcing flag manufacturing to China. He announced that he had government support for the bill.

MK Sheetrit (Kadima) objected to the amendment and warned that this could be a dangerous first step against the importing and outsourcing companies.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 46-0 and was sent to the Finance Committee.

Amendment to the Elections Bill

MK Pinyan (Likud) explained his amendment would allow radio stations to broadcast election advertisements for the regional council’s elections.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 35-1 and was sent to the Justice Committee.

Amendment to the Land Bill

MK Orbach (J.H.) explained that his amendment would force buildings with only one elevator to turn that elevator into a Shabbat elevator.

Homeland Security Minister Aharonovitch (Y.B.) explained that the government supports the bill, but only with major changes, such as it only taking effect in buildings where the majority of inhabitants or patrons are religious.

MK Schneller (Kadima) objected to the bill and said that the minority should not decide for the majority.

MK Orbach (J.H.) corrected MK Schneller and said that with the government’s changes, his concerns were addressed.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 45-0 with one MK abstaining, and it was sent to the House Committee to decide which committee should discuss the bill further.

Amendment to the Value Added Tax Bill

MK Ghilon (Meretz) explained his amendment would create a tax exemption on beverages, food products, pharmaceuticals and medical treatments. It would also reduce the tax rate on culture, newspapers and books, as well as the sale and installation of items that reduce energy consumption.

Deputy Finance Minister Cohen (Shas) expressed government opposition to the bill. Cohen stated that the government will not support any change to the VAT and will leave that matter to the Governor of Israeli Banks, Stanley Fisher.

MK Ghilon (Meretz) responded that rich people should pay higher taxes than poor people and that the capitalistic tendencies of the government are morally wrong. He remarked that money should be spent on medications instead of airplanes. Ghilon pointed to Prime Minister Netanyahu and said he would remove all of the items on his list and just keep the medications that are life-saving, and asked him to support the bill. Netanyahu refused.

The watered down version of the bill was defeated 23-48.

Public Housing in the Periphery Bill

MK Solodkin (Kadima) demanded that the government provide public housing for the elderly, single mothers and olim. She suggested that the Galil and the Negev are great places to build this public housing project. Solodkin charged that only the Yisrael B’Aliyah party (1996-2003) supported public housing as a party line, and she blamed everyone else for the current situation.

Building and Construction Minister Atias (Shas) agreed that no one supported public housing from 2003-2009. He explained that he disagreed with the bill because there are enough apartments in the Negev and Galil. He explained that over 500 apartments are empty in these areas and that in the center of the country there is a lack of buildings. He explained the best way to provide public housing is to advance a bill that will give 5% of all building projects to public housing.

MK Regev (Likud) blasted Atias and charged that he does not want to solve the public housing problem. She came out against the government position and welcomed any sanctions that will be placed on her. She said she was a proud co-sponsor of the bill.

The bill was defeated 29-42.

MK Regev was punished by the coalition and will not be allowed to propose any new bills indefinitely.

Motion/Amendment to the Local Authorities Bill

MK Naffaa (Balad) explained that his amendment would discipline mayors by splitting off some of their powers to other city hall officials. He explained that he simply took the State Comptroller’s words and turned them into a bill, so he was surprised the government opposes the bill. Naffaa suggested turning the bill into a motion.

Interior Minister Yishai (Shas) expressed government opposition to the bill but agreed to turn the bill into a motion and discuss the matter further in a committee.

The motion passed 36-0 and was sent to the Interior Committee.

Amendment to the Divorced Parents on Kids Address Bill

MK Sheetrit explained that his amendment would force every school to have the addresses of both parents in their records and to distribute all of the information on the children to both parents evenly, regardless of who holds custody.

Homeland Security Minister Aharonovitch expressed government support for the bill.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 31-1 and was sent to the House Committee to decide which committee should discuss the bill further.

Amendment to the Inheritance Bill

MK Oron (Meretz) explained that his amendment would allow inheritance by adoption, as opposed to the current situation in which adopted children do not receive anything unless it is explicitly written in the will.

Homeland Security Minister Aharonovitch expressed government support for the bill.

MK Gafni (U.T.J.) objected to the bill and revealed that the great majority of the religious members of the coalition objected to the bill as well because it is against halacha (Jewish law). This statement launched a screaming match among everyone in the plenum that lasted several minutes. Speaker Rivlin suggested that religious discussions should not take place in the plenum.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 22-3, with one MK abstaining, and it was sent to the Justice Committee.

Amendment to the Water Bill

MK Gafni explained his amendment would control the water rates and announced that all of the members of the Funds Committee are co-sponsors. He explained that citizens who need more water for their daily lives, such as disabled people, should not be fined for exceeding their water limit. Because he didn’t have government support he agreed to postpone the bill, in order to not see it defeated.

Amendment to the Marriage and Divorce Bill

MK Schneller (Kadima) explained that his amendment would allow “regional registration” for all couples who wish to get married. This would allow couples to get married through any local marriage licensing rabbinate and would not limit them, as they are today, to only the city or cities in which they live. Schneller said that under this bill there will be a central online computer database that rabbis in all cities would be able to access and update. He attacked the ultra-orthodox parties for opposing the bill and revealed that the two official state rabbis of Israel, ashkenazi and sefardi, both support this bill. He mentioned that the government had supported the bill and that it passed the government ministerial committee for legislative affairs. He complained that suddenly the government changed their mind because of MK Gafni. MK Gafni told MK Schneller he would not change his mind and argued with him for ten minutes.

MK Schneller withdrew his bill in order to prevent it from being defeated.

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