Last Wednesday’s session lasted about four hours. Seven bills were discussed in their preliminary readings. Three were advanced, three were defeated, and one was turned into a motion to avoid defeat. The government defeated the Anti-Rape Bill that would restrict judges from handing rapists lower sentences for repeated offenses. One of the bills that did advance would raise the sentence of hit-and-run crimes to twenty years.


Non-Bills Summary

  • Urgent queries were answered by Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud), Interior Minister Yishai (Shas), and Education Minister Sa’ar (Likud).
  • Three motions on the hot topics of the day were discussed at the end of the day by the few MKs that remained. The three motions passed by the votes of 3-1, 10-0 and 5-0-1. They were sent to their relevant committees for further discussion.


Bills Summary

Firefighting and Recovery Service Bill

Interior Committee Chairman MK Azoulay (Shas) explained that his bill from two years ago proves relevant after the Carmel fire. He informed the plenum that his bill would require all cities and local authorities to have a designated firefighting and recovery authority that will protect their citizens. He mentioned the bill would also lower the fire fighters’ retirement age to 57.

Interior Minister Yishai expressed government support for the bill.

MK Yacimovich (Labor) objected to the bill on the grounds that if passed fire fighters will not be able to form a labor union. She blasted Azoulay and alleged that he was worried that fire fighters would go on strike and not put out fires.

MK Chaim Katz (Likud) echoed Yacimovich’s objection.

MK Azoulay asked the two objecting MKs if one blemish in the bill is worth defeating it and risking the lives of citizens in future fires.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 41-0 and was sent to the Interior Committee.

Amendment to the Traffic Ordinance Bill

MK Matalon (Y.B.) explained that his amendment would enforce a stricter punishment for offenses that include abandonment after injury.  He congratulated the 3,500 children from Shoham who urged the government to support this bill for months. He informed the plenum that the bill would force those who commit hit and run crimes to pay a higher price. He quoted a study that presented the findings that there have been over a thousand hit and run crimes over the last decade. He stated that the minimum sentence would be raised from seven years to twenty. He called twenty a small number and blasted the courts for accepting plea bargains on the subject.

Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz expressed government support for the bill.  He noted that Bielski had a similar bill that did not receive government support and asked Bielski to stop attacking him in the press on the subject because he agreed with Bielski’s bill. Katz demanded an apology.

MK Bielski (Kadima) attacked Katz for lying. He noted that he was given an email from Katz’s assistant in which Katz outlined to the government his opposition to the bill right after he had assured Bielski that he would support it.

Katz denied any connection to his assistant’s email.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 40-0 and was sent to the Justice Committee.

Amendment to the Wage Protection Bill

MK Yacimovich explained that her amendment would allow employees to make tax-deductible donations from their salaries to various government-approved social institutions.

Deputy Defense Minister Vilnai (Labor) expressed government support for the bill.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 35-0 and was sent to the Labor Committee.

Motion/Amendment to the National Health Insurance Bill

MK Naffaa (Balad) explained that his amendment would require a doctor to check a child’s weight on a scale as part of a routine check-up. He hoped that this amendment would help doctors detect a child’s obesity before the child became overweight for life.

Deputy Health Minister Litzman (U.T.J.) expressed the government’s opposition to the bill. He informed the plenum that this matter can be solved as a provision, without the need for legislation. He asked Naffaa to turn the bill into a motion in order to discuss the matter further in a committee.

The motion passed 29-0 and was sent to the Health Committee.

Amendment to the Penal Code Bill

MK ‘Katzeleh’ Katz (N.U.) explained that his amendment would increase punishments for repeated serial offenses. The bill, known informally as the “Anti-Rape Bill”, would no longer allow judges to give repeated offenders a shorter sentence the second time around for the following crimes: murder, attempted murder, rape, pedophilia, human trafficking and drug trafficking. Katzeleh explained that today there are no “serial” crimes in the law.  He said this bill would create the term for the above crimes, and repeated offences would result in escalating sentences.

Katzeleh spent the rest of his speech comparing Netanyahu’s decree of a settlement freeze against the settlers to the decrees of Antiochus the Greek against the Jews during the time of Hanukah. He expressed hope that Netanyahu heard his words from his office and concluded that he plans to work with elements within the Likud to topple Netanyahu and replace him with someone else.

Communications Minister Kahlon (Likud) informed those present that he was relaying an answer from Justice Minister Neeman. He expressed government opposition to the bill on the grounds that it would interfere with the judge’s discretion and that increased sentences are not the best answer for avoiding repeat offenses. He stated the final argument that the legislative branch should not be dictating what the judicial branch should be doing.

Speaker Rivlin interrupted Deputy Speaker Maklev (U.T.J.) to inform the MKs that the State Comptroller’s report on the state of firefighters in Israel would be released to them thirty minutes before it would be released to the public. Prime Minister Netanyahu entered the plenum and took his seat.

MK Katzeleh thanked Kahlon for reading off the paper that Neeman gave him. He reminded the ministers present that the government has routinely defeated his bills that could have changed the future. He noted a previous bill that he had brought up that called for an increased sentence for an arsonist who sets a fire for nationalistic reasons compared to the current sentence for arson that does not distinguish between criminal and nationalistic motivations.

Katzeleh spent the rest of his speech attacking and screaming at Netanyahu. Netanyahu did not look up from his seat once.

The bill was defeated 12-44.

Minister Braverman (Labor) and MK Majadele (Labor) both voted for the bill. After the vote they explained they meant to vote against the bill.

Amendment to the Housing Loans Bill

MK Ghilon (Meretz) explained his amendment would create a special committee that would determine if a person has adequate references and requirements before being able to submit an application for a mortgage.

Minister Kahlon informed the plenum that he submitted the same bill in the past, and it was defeated. He told Ghilon that he agreed with him and the bill, but that the government opposes the bill. He stated that such a committee exists, but this bill would require all people to use it and therefore the government would not be able to meet the financial requirements.

MK Ghilon attacked Netanyahu for opposing all opposition bills.

The bill was defeated 12-34.

MK Zeev voted from MK Gafni’s place by accident.

Amendment to the National Health Insurance Bill

MK Solodkin (Kadima) explained that her amendment would give senior citizens a 60% discount for prescription drugs.

Deputy Health Minister Litzman expressed the government’s opposition to the bill on the grounds that they already receive a 30% discount. Litzman noted that a 60% discount would place the health ministry at a huge loss for each drug, and they would be forced to raise the prices. Litzman concluded that prescription drugs in Israel are, for the most part, socialized and are among the cheapest in the world.

MK Solodkin slammed the health ministry and the government and called them a bunch of liars who don’t care about the elderly.

The bill was defeated 12-42.