Tuesday’s session lasted about five hours. The government survived three no-confidence motions from six of the seven opposition parties. The Labor party MKs relished their first no-confidence motion. The no-confidence motions were moved to Tuesday because Monday held the annual mock-Knesset session for high school students. Four bills were discussed Tuesday. Three of them were advanced after passing their first readings and one bill became law after passing its third reading. The highlight bill of the day was one that would temporarily reduce real estate taxes.

 

Non-Bills Summary

  • Kadima’s no-confidence motion titled ‘Netanyahu buying power through money and has created a new low in politics’ was defeated 37-52 with 31 MKs not present.
  • The Three Israeli-Arab parties’ no-confidence motion titled ‘Government policy encourages racist legislation’ was defeated 29-54 with 37 MKs not present.
  • Labor and Meretz’s joint no-confidence motion titled ‘Deterioration in Israel’s political status and continuing deepening social gaps’ was defeated 36-52 with 32 MKs not present.
  • House Committee Chairman MK Levin (Likud) reported his committee’s decisions on which disputed bills will be discussed in which committees. He also reported that MK Abesadze (Kadima) will replace MK Schneller (Kadima) in the State Comptroller Committee and that MK Katzeleh (N.U.) and MK Danon (Likud) would be added to an education subcommittee.
  • A motion on Negev and Galil Day was discussed by ten MKs and summarized by Negev and Galil Minister Shalom (Likud). The motion passed 13-0 with one MK abstaining and will be discussed further in the plenum.
  • MK Michaeli (Shas) expressed his desire to apply a continuity clause to a bill. It will be reviewed for the next two weeks, and objections may be added.

 

Bills Summary

Temporary Order on the Real-Estate Property Tax Bill

Finance Minister Steinitz explained that his amendment would tackle the housing crisis. He announced the reduction of taxes for those who are looking to fix up multiple apartments that are in their name in order to sell them, but for a limited time only. He said this bill would ease the process for those who wish to acquire an apartment because it would ease the process for those who wish to sell.  He added that people will be able to sell four apartments at once without needing to wait the mandatory cooling-off period in between. He stated this would increase the supply of residential apartments considerably.

MK Shama (Likud) praised the bill and said this bill will lower the prices of real estate when passed. He said the one problem with the bill is that investors might try to buy up the smaller apartments instead of the bigger apartments because of the tax breaks they are receiving across the board. He suggested pushing his bill instead, which is similar but has a clause that would keep the taxes on the smaller apartments high.  This would provide incentive for people to buy up to bigger places and to sell their smaller places, which would then lower the prices of the smaller places in the market.

MK Ben Ari (N.U.) said this bill is stupid and won’t help anybody. He said it is absurd to think lowering taxes to encourage investors to sell will solve the housing shortage. He said that this is a band-aid and what is really needed is mass construction of houses and not some trick.

MK Ariel (N.U.) said that the finance ministry is causing the problem, not solving it. He stated that 20% of Israel’s annual construction is in Judea and Samaria and the building freeze is raising the housing prices dramatically. He blasted the finance ministry for not using their NIS 12 billion surplus to build more apartments. He blasted the government for raising taxes on gas and raising the prices of public transportation simultaneously.

MK Katzeleh (N.U.) offered a practical solution to duplicate former Prime Minister Sharon’s plan when he was housing minister in the beginning of the 1990s. He said that in two years the country built 120,000 homes for all of the Russian immigrants. Katzeleh said that Sharon’s plan is sitting in a drawer and should be taken out and used again.

MK Naffaa (Balad) said the bill is a positive step but does not go far enough. He stressed this bill will help Jews more than Arabs because there is a big shortage of housing in the Arab sector and this bill doesn’t answer that problem.

MK Yoel Hasson (Kadima) said that the bill won’t create more housing and trusts the market to make the right moves. He said that he doesn’t trust the market and feels the country needs to approve building in the Negev and Galil.

MK Zeev (Shas) said the bill might encourage investors to sell, but it doesn’t help because no one has money to buy the apartments. He suggested that the investors might just switch apartments among each other and call it a day. He said most homeowners are leasing their apartments, and this bill might kick them to the curb. He stated that he expects rents to be raised as a result of this bill.

The bill passed its first reading 35-0 and was sent to the Funds Committee.

MK Elkin voted from MK Levin’s station by mistake. Speaker Rivlin counted his vote.

Amendment to the State Comptroller Bill

State Comptroller Committee Chairman Yoel Hasson explained that his bill would allow his committee to punish government officials who don’t cooperate with the committee or did not implement the decisions of the committee regarding their government job. He said that today there are several government officials who do not implement the decisions of the committee, which is illegal but in today’s law has no consequence. He said the punishment could include preventing their promotions or assessing fines.

The bill passed its second reading 8-0.

The bill passed its third reading 10-0.

MK Hasson thanked his assistants and his committee assistants for helping him with the bill.

Amendment to the Supervision over Schools Bill

Education Committee Chairman MK Miller (Y.B.) explained that the amendment would have the director-general of the education ministry confirm the appointment of all elementary and high school principals in Israel in order to fight the corruption of local authority mayors. He stated that it is a job given to friends in some cases, and he noted a city which has had 12 principals in 12 years.

MK Zeev said that this bill will not prevent unqualified people from being appointed as principals to educate our children. He said this bill will change who is giving the jobs from the mayor to the education ministry. He claimed that there is no way a man in Jerusalem knows who is fit to be a principle for an ultra-orthodox school in Bnei Brak or in an Arab town. He stressed that a principle needs more than a master’s degree to be a good educator.

MK Orlev (J.H.) defended his bill and said that a principal must have a master’s degree. He said the education ministry must determine the criteria of who is fit and also must be able to appoint its own people.

MK Tirosh (Kadima) noted that it won’t be a retroactive bill. She told Zeev not to worry because it will keep the current principals who are unqualified in their positions since the bill only applies to the appointment of future principals.

The bill passed its first reading 7-1 and was sent to the Education Committee.

Amendment to the Traffic Ordinance Bill

MK Tirosh explained her amendment would force cars that transport students to install a front car mirror. She expressed this would reduce the number of child injuries and deaths.

MK Zeev praised the bill and demanded that it also apply to all buses and transport vans.

The bill passed its first reading 4-0 and was sent to the Finance Committee.

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