Monday’s session lasted about five hours. Eight bills were discussed. Six bills were advanced after passing their first readings and two bills became law after passing their third readings. The highlight bill of the day was the television reform bill that includes about 150 paragraphs and generated many objections. Netanyahu survived three no-confidence motions on the subjects of the housing crisis, the Ramatkal (IDF Chief of Staff) appointment crisis and the raising of the gas and water prices.

 

Non-Bills Summary

  • Kadima’s no-confidence motion titled ‘Netanyahu continues to abandon the public in Israel and ignores the serious housing crisis which he led’ was defeated 44-58 with 18 MKs not present.
  • Labor and Meretz’s joint no-confidence motion titled ‘Conduct of the prime minister and defense minister surrounding the Ramatkal appointment affair’ was defeated 44-58 with 18 MKs not present.
  • The three Arab parties’ no-confidence motion titled ‘The further raising of gas prices and water’ was defeated 38-58 with 24 MKs not present.
  • Speaker Rivlin greeted the EFI (European Friends of Israel) delegation with a warm speech.
  • MK Israel Eichler (U.T.J.) was sworn in, in place of Deputy Education Minister Meir Porush (U.T.J.), who resigned Wednesday. Eichler made a commitment but didn’t swear, since he is an ultra-orthodox Jew. In Eichler’s opening speech he said he would follow his rabbi and work for the ultra-orthodox community.
  • Deputy Health Minister Litzman (U.T.J.) answered four queries at the end of the session.

 

Bills Summary

Evacuation of Minefields Bill

MK Bar-On (Kadima) warned there are half a million mines along Israel’s border and former borders that take up a collective 33,000 km2. He said that twelve years ago the government was called on to remove the mines and only lately have they been pursuing this bill. He stated that many tourists have been injured over the years losing limbs, and there were fatalities as well. He explained the bill would create an authority in charge of removing these mines. He said that the authority will help raise funds to cover the expense of removing the mines. He said the individuals who remove mines will not be liable if something goes wrong, but the companies that employ them will. He hoped that the bill would enable the opening up of more green areas for the public, particularly in the Golan. He thanked former MK Hanegbi for proposing the bill and his 73 MK cosponsors, which he claimed was an all-time record. He slammed those who sent Hanegbi on a “forced vacation”.

The bill passed its first reading 59-0 and was sent to the Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee.

Amendment to the Second Authority for Television and Radio Bill

MK Akunis (Likud) explained that the amendment would update the licensing regulations of broadcast, cable and satellite television channels. He noted that at the end of March the analog systems will be completely replaced with modern digital ones, and that requires a series of updates. He stated that it took him a year and a half as the former finance committee chairman to complete the work needed for the bill. He added that the era of more than one company operating a channel will end. He praised the addition of more channels to the DTT that will take place over the course of the next two years, including channels in Arabic and Russian.

MK Shamalov Berkovich (Kadima) said she has several objections. She said the fact that the bill will not become law for another three years worries her. She stated that in Israel a lot can happen in three years and a new minister can push off the bill’s implementation for another three years. Her second objection was that the bill prohibits the addition of more broadcast channels. She informed Akunis she will vote against the bill if her two objections are not accepted.

MK Shai (Kadima) said this bill is not a reform. He blasted the fact that the license will be for 15 years, claiming that 15 years is a lifetime. He said that television will be worse because the fear of the operators of losing their license is being eliminated. He concluded by saying this bill is a bad idea and he opposes just about all of it.

MK Zeev (Shas) blasted reality shows and asked what messages television is sending to our children. He said that he agreed to withdraw most of his objections at the request of the minister. He said the one objection he is keeping is his addition of a requirement that the owners of the operating company have at least NIS 100 million in order to meet its obligations.

The objections of MKs Shamalov Berkovich and Shai were defeated 7-29, 7-29, 7-28, 7-31, 7-28, 6-27, 8-25 and 8-28.

MK Zeev’s objection was accepted 30-7.

The paragraphs of the bill passed their second readings 29-7, 30-6, 30-6, 25-6, 29-6, 27-5 and 29-5.

The bill passed its third reading 28-7.

Communications Minister Kahlon (Likud) thanked the Knesset for approving his reform of television. He thanked former Communications Minister Atias for starting the reform during the previous term and also thanked former Finance Committee Chairman Akunis.

Amendment to the Local Authorities Bill

Education Minister Sa’ar explained that the amendment would create the position ‘Head of the Youth Council of Students and Youth’ that would lead the ministry’s informal education department in various local authorities.

The bill passed its first reading 23-0 and was sent to the Education Committee.

Amendment to the Municipalities Ordinance Bill

Interior Committee Chairman Azoulay (Shas) explained that the amendment would create a committee in various local authorities that will be responsible for developing and implementing programs to fight violence.

The bill passed its second reading 25-0.

The bill passed its third reading 22-1.

Amendment to the Planning and Building Bill

Interior Minister Yishai (Shas) explained that his amendment would provide tax exemptions for strengthening buildings against earthquakes. He said he hoped this bill will help save lives.

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

Amendment to the Sports Bill

Culture and Sport Minister Livnat (Likud) explained that the amendment would present a new code of ethics that the monopolies of the sport industry must comply with. She noted that the requirements would include regulations on which employees are fit to fill certain positions, particularly committee judges.

The bill passed its first reading 12-0 and was sent to the Culture and Sport Committee.

Amendment to the Railway Ordinance Bill

Minister Ya’alon (Likud) explained that the amendment would implement the latest changes needed to legalize the operation of the Jerusalem light rail. He added that the amendment also erases a considerable number of paragraphs from the original bill.

MK Zeev decided to discuss the earthquake bill further. He said the bill helps contractors strengthen buildings against earthquakes and do so affordably. He noted that the contractors might be forced to take away people’s parking spaces to implement the bill and asked that a solution be found for that. He went on to discuss the light rail bill and called the current situation a catastrophe and a safety hazard. He hoped this bill will bring positive changes to the light rail of Jerusalem.

MK Ariel (N.U.) announced that a warrant was taken out against Kiryat Arba Rabbi Dov Lior for giving his “haskama” (endorsement) to a book and refusing to show up for an investigation on the matter. He called on his fellow MKs to complain to the justice and homeland security ministers about the warrant.

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

Amendment to the Knesset Bill

House Committee Chairman Levin (Likud) explained that his amendment would transfer paragraphs from the Knesset Bill to Basic Law: The Knesset. He stated that among the paragraphs being moved are ones that state under which circumstances MKs are suspended or forced to resign.

The bill passed its first reading 13-0 and was sent to the House Committee.

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