Last Monday’s session lasted six hours and fifteen minutes. Eight bills were discussed. Five bills passed their second and third readings, becoming law. Three bills were advanced after passing their first reading. There was a heated debate on the Azmi Bishara bill, which was advanced. The Knesset Commissioner position was abolished officially after passing its third reading.

Non-Bills Summary

  • Kadima’s no-confidence motion titled ‘Netanyahu government’s failure in all fields’ was defeated 29-56, with 35 MKs not present for the vote.
  • The three Israeli Arab parties’ no-confidence motion titled ‘A government that does not take care of poverty in general and Arab sectors in particular’ was defeated 23-57, with 3 abstaining and 37 MKs not present for the vote.
  • Speaker Rivlin greeted the Australia-Israel Leadership Forum.
  • Speaker Rivlin eulogized former Speaker Dov Shilansky, who passed away last week.
  • Speaker Rivlin and Prime Minister Netanyahu eulogized former MK and Minister Sarah Doron, who passed away this month.
  • House Committee Chairman MK Levin (Likud) announced the committee’s decisions on which committees would discuss various contested bills. He also announced that MK Orbach (J.H.) will replace MK Pinyan (Likud) in the Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee and that MK Yacimovich (Labor) will hold that position until the budget is passed. Additionally, MK Michaeli (Shas) will replace MK Amsellem (Shas) in a Labor and Health Sub-Committee. Levin also announced new substitutes in various committees: Funds Committee substitute MK Azoulay (Shas), State Comptroller Committee substitutes MK Elkin (Likud) and MK Pinyan, and MK Orlev (J.H.), who will replace MK Moses (U.T.J.) in a joint sub-committee. The appointments were approved 10-0.
  • Labor, Welfare and Health Committee Chairman MK Haim Katz (Likud) asked that the Knesset approve a technical correction change to an amendment of the National Health Insurance Bill. The Knesset approved the Committee decision 17-0.

Bills Summary

Amendment to the Value Added Tax Bill

Funds Committee Chairman MK Gafni (U.T.J.) explained that this was another bill that was split off from the Arrangements Bill. The amendment would give all soldiers who rent apartments a VAT exemption.

The bill passed its second reading 24-0.

The bill passed its third reading 24-0.

Amendment to the Psychologists Bill

Labor, Welfare and Health Committee Chairman MK Haim Katz explained that the amendment will increase the spectrum of special psychological treatments given in Israel by licensed psychologists and create a position of specialist psychologists for this purpose.

The bill passed its second reading 24-1.
The bill passed its third reading 23-0.

MK Matalon (Y.B.) thanked the Knesset for supporting his bill and expressed hope that this amendment will allow each citizen to get the appropriate care that they deserve. He also thanked his assistants for helping him with his bill.

Amendment to the Government Companies Bill

Justice, Constitution and Law Committee Chairman MK Rotem (Y.B.) explained that the amendment would lift the requirement of a relevant bachelor’s degree for any government employee working in finance; any degree would be accepted. It would, however, require board members of financial government institutions to have at least a relevant master’s degree.

The bill passed its second reading 19-0.

The bill passed its third reading 17-0.

MK Levin thanked the Knesset for supporting his bill and thanked his assistants for helping him with his bill.

Amendment to the Adoption of Children Bill

Justice, Constitution and Law Committee Chairman MK Rotem explained that this amendment would update the bill from 1991 and transfer the responsibility of adoption in Israel from the Justice Ministry to the Labor and Welfare Ministry.

The bill passed its second reading 15-0 with 1 MK abstaining.

The bill passed its third reading 17-0 with 1 MK abstaining.

MK Orlev (J.H.) noted that it took two terms to pass this bill. He thanked a long list of people for helping him with this bill.

Labor and Welfare Minister Herzog (Labor) praised Orlev as an outstanding parliamentarian and welcomed his new responsibilities.

Amendment to the Economic Efficiency Bill

Deputy Finance Minister Cohen (Shas) explained that his amendment would implement changes to the economic program from the past budgets of 2009 and 2010.

MK Oron (Meretz) admitted that he was supporting the bill but questioned the supervision of the implementation of the bill. He also attacked the private contractor who failed to fundraise for the Tel Aviv subway for the past 13 years.

MK Tibi (R.T.) also confessed that he would support the bill. He chose to attack the cellular companies for making too much money. He noted that a text message sent from overseas costs 30 NIS and pondered if an oil painting was cheaper.

The bill passed its first reading 17-0 and was sent to the Funds Committee.

Amendment to the Religious Courts Bill

Labor and Welfare Minister Herzog explained that the amendment would allow the religious courts to use ‘social assistance units’ in the same manner that civil courts use them today. He explained that these units are comprised mostly of social workers, and they are sent to the homes of troubled people to help resolve issues.

MK Horowitz (Meretz) called religious courts an anomaly of Israeli democracy and labeled them undemocratic. He stated that most Israelis avoid the religious courts at all costs. He explained that he was against the bill because it would help the religious courts become more relevant. He blasted the Christian religious courts as well. He demanded that the religious courts be abolished.

MK Khenin (Hadash) supported Horowitz’s speech. He went on to attack the rabbis’ letter against selling property to Arabs and called it a crime that must be prosecuted. He called on the government to fire the rabbis and to no longer pay their salaries. He concluded by calling religious institutions in Israel racist.

MK Zeev (Shas) told Horowitz and Khenin that they do not know the first thing about the religious courts because they have never stepped foot in one. He tried to defend his position, but after being heckled he gave up. He expressed support for the bill.

MK Tibi expressed support for the bill but labeled rabbis as a negative influence in society.

The bill passed its first reading 26-0 with two MKs abstaining.

Denial of payment to MKs and former MKs who have committed offenses against the State of Israel Bill

MK Israel Hasson (Kadima) told the story of former MK Bishara’s betrayal of the country in a hypothetical manner. He stated that paying him is absurd and that he is worried that other MKs will follow suit. He assured that only MKs and former MKs who have not shown up for their investigations would be punished under this bill. He called this a bill that should “obviously” be supported.

MK Ariel (N.U.) expressed support for the bill, yet expressed concern that it is coming three years too late. He remarked that this is the least that should be done and expects more to be done in the future. He stated that anyone who opposes this bill is supporting the next violation against the State of Israel.

MK Agbaria (Hadash) called the bill racist and blasted Hasson and his Yisrael Beitenu co-sponsors. He labeled the bill sectoral and undemocratic. He called those who support the bill anti-semites.

MK Zahalka (Balad) said that this bill was personal and directed at Bishara. He said that it is undemocratic to take away a citizen’s pension, let alone an MK. He warned that this would hurt Bishara’s wife and children and asked the MKs to oppose it.

MK Zoabi (Balad) said that this bill attacks MKs who have opinions that are not in the consensus. She was heckled by many MKs and Deputy Speaker Whbee (Kadima) had difficulty maintaining order. MK Matalon was almost removed after being called to order twice for threatening Zoabi if she goes on another flotilla.

MK Ben Ari (N.U.) called the previous speakers enemies. His speech was heckled as well. He said that the Knesset should take Bishara’s life and not his pension after he spied for Hezbollah during the second Lebanese war.

MK Oron asked if maybe we should take away former President Katzav’s pension as well. He warned that the bill crosses a red line.

MK Hotovely (Likud) stated that after three long years Israel will correct the disgrace of paying the pension of a traitor. She told Zahalka and Zoabi that they should be ashamed of themselves. Zoabi heckled for a few minutes. Hotovely demanded that people who deny Israel as a Jewish and democratic state not receive pensions. She said that Bishara should never have been allowed to be elected to Knesset and was heckled more. She suggested Oron resign from the Knesset as well. She said that we must stop allowing traitors into this building.

MK Levin said Bishara deserves worse and called Zoabi and Zahalka traitors as well. Levin asked how a person who is not in the country he worked can expect a pension from that country. He asked why Bishara should be paid a pension when he was using his job to commit treason.

MK Regev (Likud) was heckled before she even reached the podium. Regev told Zoabi that she was a traitor and should be sent to Gaza. She said she was sick of people using Israel’s democracy against it. She said that no democratic country pays traitors a pension. Pandemonium broke out after her speech, and Regev was called to order and almost thrown out for verbally attacking Zoabi.

MK Zeev said with sorrow that Israel acted stupidly by not officially arresting Bishara and by giving him the benefit of the doubt and now he is free and at large. He wondered why Bishara’s advice on where the Hezbolla should aim their missiles earns him any money.

MK Rotem said he was not surprised by Zahalka and Zoabi, but he was surprised at Oron. He attacked those who talked about Bishara’s wife and children and asked if they were more important than the wives and children of the Israelis who died as a result of Bishara’s spying.

MK Israel Hasson got up to defend his law. He assured that the bill was not racist and said that the bill was simply and only directed at MKs or former MKs who spy for the enemy.

The bill passed its first reading 23-9 and was sent to the House Committee.

Amendment to the Knesset Bill

House Committee Chairman MK Levin explained that his amendment would terminate the position of Knesset Commissioner for Future Generations, a position that was manned from 2001-2006 but has since remained vacant. He questioned how a former judge could predict the future and tell the Knesset what to do. He also questioned the abnormally high two million shekel annual budget given to the commissioner as a salary. He also questioned why the Supreme Court doesn’t have a commissioner, since their decisions affect the future more than the Knesset. Levin suggested that the MKs can take the future into account without the need of a commissioner. He concluded that Horowitz’s objections should be rejected.

Speaker Rivlin thanked Levin for his work on the bill.

MK Horowitz called this a sad day for the Knesset. He praised the commissioner position that was legislated by former minister Tommy Lapid. He praised former Commissioner Judge Shoham who put his emphasis on the environment. He called on the Knesset to change the bill and not abolish the position. He stated that the commissioner is not a monster and is not trying to control the Knesset. He slammed Levin for killing the commissioner position. He said he was convinced that, if killed, the commissioner position would live again.

MK Khenin supported and agreed with Horowitz. He agreed that the position wasn’t perfect but was worthy. He stressed that sustainability was needed as we move forward in the 21st century. He admitted that the position was murdered in 2006 but that today it will be put to rest.

The bill passed its paragraphs that didn’t have objections and its second reading by the votes of 11-3 and 11-3.

Horowitz’s objection was defeated 4-10. The other objections were withdrawn.

The bill passed its third reading 11-4.

MK Levin thanked his co-sponsor MK Gafni and his assistants for helping him with his bill.