Last Tuesday’s session was about three and a half hours long. Four bills were discussed. Three bills were advanced after passing their first reading and one bill was not voted on.  The Ethiopian Affirmative Action Bill was advanced without the presence of Ethiopian MK Molla (Kadima), who is not a sponsor of the bill and did not speak last time the bill came up in the plenum. Two former journalist MKs voted against a bill that would prohibit the publication of photographs of terrorist attack victims.


Non-Bills Summary

  • 17 MKs participated in the one-minute speech segment of the day. Most discussed the budget. Minister Begin responded to the MKs at the end of the segment.
  • Three motions on various topics in the news were discussed. They were sent for further discussion in various committees by the votes of 15-1, 8-0 and 16-0.
  • Deputy Industry and Trade Minister Noked (Labor) answered a query.


Bills Summary

Expanding the Fair Representation of the Ethiopians in the Civil Service Bill

MK Pinyan (Likud) blasted the parents of the Carmel fire who made a spectacle of themselves in the state memorial for their shloshim. He then explained that his amendment would help fight prejudice against Ethiopians by demanding a quota for their people as part of an affirmative action that would raise their representation in the civil service and the public companies. He noted that there is only one Ethiopian in the entire civil service.

MK Naffaa (Balad) said this is a worthy bill. He expressed his feeling that all minorities are discriminated against and that this bill won’t be enforced. He criticized the government for cutting funds for the Druze and Circassian communities. He blasted fellow Druze MKs Matalon and Kara, and praised Druze MK Whbee, who fought with him for Druze rights.

MK Ben Ari (N.U.) said that he volunteered to help absorb the Ethiopians when they arrived in the 1980s, particularly in Kiryat Gat, and that he supports the bill enthusiastically. He said that although affirmative action is a good thing, it does hurt people who are “normal” and come from good families. He suggested that the affirmative action bill be amended to put a limit of 15 years on the quota, in order to put a deadline on the absorption of their aliyah.

MK Akunis (Likud) praised former Prime Minister Shamir, who brought the Ethiopians to Israel. He noted that there are 120,000 Ethiopians in Israel today and that 74% of them make minimum wage or are unemployed.

MK Tibi (R.T.) said that affirmative action of Arabs is barely enforced in the civil service and public sectors. He said that he doubts this bill will be enforced. He attacked House Committee Chairman Levin for delaying bills in his committee that would enforce Arab affirmative action.

MK Zeev (Shas) said that he doesn’t like the idea of affirmative action because at this point there is too much of it, although he agrees with it from a moral point of view. He attacked those in the civil service and the public sector who do not hire religious people because of their restrictions of not working on Shabbat and the Jewish holidays.

The bill passed its first reading 10-0 and was sent to the Immigration and Absorption Committee.

Amendment to the Protection of Privacy Bill

MK Maklev (U.T.J.) explained that his amendment would prohibit the publication of photographs of those injured or killed in terrorist attacks or other disasters without their family’s consent. He said that we have a moral right to those who are hurt to protect them and their rights over the principle of freedom of the press.

MK Ben Ari said that the press should not look at this as an attack. He said the press has their place and this is not one of them. He said that journalists take pictures instead of helping injured people, and this bill will change that. He asked the press to keep their nose out of these issues.

MK Zeev blasted the media for past photos that were hard to stomach and said that limits must be put on the freedom of the press in this regard.

MK Ezra (Kadima) said that sometimes we need to use very tough pictures to show the world what the terrorists are doing to us. He said allowing the Palestinians to be the only side to show these types of pictures is giving them a clear advantage.

MK Orbach (J.H.) said that he doesn’t feel comfortable with this bill. He said he is against limiting freedom of the press and that the Knesset should not do such things. He told the Knesset to let the press choose their own ethics and let the public judge. He asked if the next bill will outlaw reality television because they are not politically correct.

MK Yacimovich (Labor) said that this bill has no place in Israeli society. She said this bill will prohibit the press from covering the most important stories. She said the press is responsible and this bill is among the worst she has ever seen. She called on the Knesset to oppose it.

MK Adatto (Kadima) said that as a hospital general manager she begged the press to stop filming the dead and injured in the hospital. She said she is very much for this bill.

MK Gafni (U.T.J.) said that a balance is needed but that the legislation comes from the fact that the press ignores their ethics committee decisions. He said that the press worship ratings and their own interests. He said that we can’t trust the press because they have failed. He asked why we can criticize the prime minister, celebrities, politicians, musicians and athletics, but we can’t criticize the press.

The bill passed its first reading 15-1 and was sent to the Justice Committee.

Amendment to the National Insurance Bill

MK Cabel (Labor) explained that the amendment would prohibit the army from paying a salary to reservists through an employer. He explained the employers ask for the army to pay them for seven days per week instead of five days per week. He also noted some employers don’t give the full amount to the soldier. He explained that his bill would force the army to give the soldier the full amount instead of giving it to an employer. He praised his co-sponsor MK Ezra, who signed dozens of MKs to support the bill.

The bill passed its first reading 6-0 and was sent to the Labor Committee.

Amendment to the Israel Defense Forces Pensions Bill

MK Schneller (Kadima) explained that his amendment would allow career soldiers the benefits they are entitled to by the government security industries. He gave an example of a computer specialist who worked in the army for twenty years and realizes that if he works privately after he retires he will pay very high taxes and barely make any money. He said those talented people go overseas instead. He stated that this bill would prevent that very situation. He said that because the government was opposing the bill, even though they supported it in its preliminary reading, he would not request a vote on it.