Last Monday’s session lasted five and a half hours. Eight bills were discussed. Four bills advanced after passing their first readings, and four bills became law after passing their third readings. The extension for an additional two years of special laws regarding security prisoners was the highlight of the day. MKs from Meretz, Hadash and Balad spent over an hour objecting to the bill, while Justice Committee Chairman Rotem attacked them for not showing up to the committee meetings. More bills were split off from the Arrangements Bill, and bills that had been split off earlier were either passed or advanced.


Non-Bills Summary

  • Kadima’s no-confidence motion titled ‘Netanyahu’s government loses control – The Prime Minister is running away from responsibility and his ministers are rolling the responsibility from one to another’ was defeated by the vote of 31-53 (36 MKs not present).
  • The three Israeli-Arab parties’ no-confidence motion tilted ‘The racist government policies of Judaization of the Galilee and the Negev, the demolition of Arab houses and sponsorship of racist rabbis’ was defeated by a vote of 8-55 with 14 MKs abstaining and 43 MKs not present.
  • Speaker Rivlin greeted the Russian Federation Committee to Israel with a warm speech.
  • House Committee Chairman Levin (Likud) announced changes in the Knesset committees. MK Shama (Likud) and MK Akunis (Likud) will switch places in the Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee: Akunis will be a member of the committee and Shama will be a substitute. MK Akunis will replace MK Danon (Likud) in the House Committee and MK Akunis will replace MK Shama in the Finance Committee.
  • House Committee Chairman Levin also announced which disputed bills would be discussed in which committees.
  • Splitting off Bills from the Arrangements Bill: Labor, Health and Welfare Committee Chairman MK Haim Katz (Likud) explained that he was asking the Knesset to split off a bill that has to do with pensions from the Arrangements Bill. It passed 15-0. MK Ilatov (Y.B.) asked the Knesset to split off a bill in the name of the Finance Committee. He explained the amendment discusses DTT licensing in Arabic. It passed 11-0.
  • Queries were answered at the end of the session by Transportation Minister Katz (Likud).


Bills Summary

Amendment to the 2002 Arrangements Bill

Funds Committee Chairman MK Gafni (U.T.J.) explained that the amendment to the 2002 Arrangements Bill was split off from the current 2010-2011 Arrangements Bill.  He clarified that the amendment would delay the raising of prices of national health insurance services until 2013.

The bill passed its second reading 48-0.

The bill passed its third reading 49-0.

Two Amendments to the Real Property Tax Bill

Funds Committee Chairman MK Gafni explained that the amendments were split off from the Arrangements Bill. He said that the amendments would ease the bureaucracy on real estate property taxes. He expressed hope that it would cause improvement in the real estate property industry and encourage the acquisition of more real estate properties. He noted that by splitting these bills from the Arrangements Bill it enables the opposition to vote for the bills instead of voting against them as part of the budget vote. Gafni noted that the second amendment’s co-sponsor is opposition member MK Oron (Meretz).

The first bill passed its second reading 45-0.

The first bill passed its third reading 42-0.

MK Oron (Meretz) thanked Speaker Rivlin for helping him split his bill off the Arrangements Bill, which now allows him to vote for his own bill. He asked the government to continue this practice in the future and to only leave the bills with which the opposition disagrees in the Arrangements Bill and the budget.

The second bill passed its second reading 25-0.

The second bill passed its third reading 28-0.

Temporary Provision Extension on the Amendment to the Criminal Procedure Bill

Justice, Construction and Law Committee Chairman MK Rotem (Y.B.) explained that the amendment would extend for an additional two years the State’s ability to hold detainees suspected of security offenses in certain instances without seeing a judge.

MK Khenin (Hadash) objected to the bill for about twenty minutes. He said it was undemocratic for a suspect not to be a part of his trial and to not know with what and why he is being charged. He blasted the clause which allows the police or army to hold all security prisoners for 96 hours without seeing a judge or a lawyer while allowing them to be interrogated and investigated countless times within that span. He charged that it allows the investigators more time to torture the prisoners physically and psychologically, causing the prisoners to confess to crimes they didn’t commit. He noted that the Supreme Court has ruled against this bill countless times. He questioned if arresting people on the grounds they might do something is worthy of hard time. He said this bill was an attack on democracy and a violation of human rights. He warned that if we don’t protect the security prisoners today, tomorrow your rights might be taken away as well.

MK Horowitz (Meretz) objected to the bill and said he agreed with every word Khenin said. He went on to read several Supreme Court rulings that found this law to be an illegal and immoral one. He asked how logically Israel could try people without them being present for their trial and therefore without representation. He suggested it was undemocratic. He called this temporary provision that gets extended every two years intolerable. He suggested that this bill comes from the point of view that the Knesset doesn’t trust the courts. He labeled this one of the saddest points in the current Knesset. He quoted a joint Yeshiva University and Stanford University study that found that 25% of detainees give false confessions under duress.

MK Oron objected to the bill on the grounds that it is a temporary provision, which creates a judicial loophole that entitles the Knesset to ignore Supreme Court rulings against it. He said that the Knesset has been playing this game for years and it is undemocratic. He stated that even terrorists should be afforded human rights. He noted that other than Committee Chairman Rotem, no other MK showed up to the committee meeting on this bill. He pondered how one person could decide for the entire coalition.

MK Zahalka (Balad) objected to the bill for about twenty minutes as well. He called it a violation of human rights and a Supreme Court bypass bill by the serial Supreme Court bypasser Rotem. He said that Rotem is going against both the detainees and the judges in this bill by preventing a trial that would be afforded in every other democratic country in the world. He noted a clause which allows the prisoner to see his lawyer only once every 21 days. He blasted the Knesset for acting as the rubber stamp of the Shabak. He read from the protocol of the committee meeting Rotem held for himself in which he stated “after visiting the jails that the Shabak operates from, I came to understand the need to extend this bill for another year”. Zahalka asked how suspected terrorists get worse treatment than known mobsters. He blasted the clause that allows an officer to extend the 96 hours a detainee can be held without seeing a judge for another 24 hours. He slammed Israel for violating the ICCPR accord that it signed with this bill. He called all security prisoners’ arrests illegal.

MK Rotem said that this bill is a Supreme Court bypass bill, but there is separation of the different branches of government. He quoted former Supreme Court President Aharon Barak from his book, in which he said that it is the Knesset’s job to legislate the bills and the court’s job to interpret the bills and to disqualify them if needed. Rotem said that when he follows President Barak he sleeps well at night. He blasted the MKs who objected to the bill. He said that non-profit organizations gave the MKs a list of objections, and they submitted them without reading the bill. He noted that none of them bothered showing up to the countless committee meetings, during which experts for and against the bill were allowed equal time to talk. He attacked the objecting MKs for saying that this bill takes away power from the judges. He noted that most of the objections came on the right of judges to extend the investigation period for 21 days, yet they chose to talk about other paragraphs that they are not even objecting to. He noted that only in cases where the judge feels that there is a danger that lives may be lost can a judge decide not to allow the detainee to be present for his trial or know with what he is being charged. He noted that the Supreme Court judges can overrule any judge’s decision on any of the matters of this bill. He said that sometimes democracy needs to protect itself and use the democratic principle of defensive democracy; therefore, it is a democratic bill and a necessary one.

The paragraphs of the bill were passed in their second readings 16-5, 17-4, 18-4, 18-4, 18-4 and 18-4.

The objections were defeated 4-18, 4-17, 3-17, 4-16, 4-17, 4-18 and 4-18. After the first seven objections were defeated the MKs withdrew the other twenty-something objections.

The bill passed its third reading 18-5.

MK Rotem thanked the Knesset for helping ensure the security of its citizens and for allowing the State to fight terrorism and terrorists. He also thanked MK Zahalka for missing all of the committees meetings on the subject and for showing up on the last day of the committee and presenting him with a pile of objections. He suggested Zahalka show up for the meetings next time and that it might bring more weight to his extremist opinions.

Amendments to the Security Service Bill

Deputy Defense Minister Vilnai (Labor) explained that the amendments would slowly reduce the number of policemen, prison guards and soldiers serving Israel over the next two years, but its implementation would be delayed for six months.

MK Zeev (Shas) said that there was no need to delay the reduction and that the reduction should be cancelled.

The first amendment passed its first reading 14-2 and was sent to the Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee.

The second amendment passed its first reading 14-2 and was sent to the Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee.

Amendment to the Entry into Israel Bill

Interior Minister Yishai (Shas) explained that the amendment would create a court for foreigners and non-citizens. The court would try all cases against foreign workers, illegal foreign workers, refugees and illegal refugees. He explained that the regular courts are bombarded with tens of thousands of these types of cases each year and that a new court was needed to deal with these specific issues.

MK Khenin called it a dangerous bill. He said at one time only the Supreme Court tried cases involving foreigners and now we are creating a court for foreigners. He noted that the new court will only require one of the three judges to be an ordained judge.

MK Horowitz called it a bad bill. He claimed that 90% of the illegal workers haven’t had enough time to renew their 3-month visas and are not bad people.

MK Zeev thanked Minister Yishai for bringing order to the illegal workers situation in Israel and for dealing with the infiltrators from Sudan.

MK Levin (Likud) said that drastic times call for drastic measures. He noted that the courts are overworked and this will help us bring swift justice in this case and hopefully in the future to more cases as well.

The bill passed its first reading 13-2 and was sent to the Interior Committee.

Amendment to the Magen David Adom Bill

Deputy Health Minister Litzman (U.T.J.) explained that the amendment would force people to pay fees for emergency transport services and ambulances. He said that Magen David Adom would be able to force the people to pay for these services by placing interest on the fines and by refusing non-emergency services to the person in the future.

MK Zeev said that a man who orders an ambulance for his neighbor, who, in certain cases, can’t talk on the phone, must give his name and his teudat zehut number before they send the ambulance. Zeev said that currently in these cases the man who called for the ambulance, and not the man who was taken away in the ambulance, must pay the bill. He determined that this was unjust and this amendment might make a person think twice before they order their neighbor or friend an ambulance. Zeev blasted the fact that Magen David Adom charges 660 NIS for an ambulance for life threatening cases and for checking blood pressure equally. He said that a surgery done on an ambulance that no one signed for can cost thousands of shekels.

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