Last Wednesday’s session lasted about seven hours. The coalition played hardball and none of the eight bills discussed were passed. Five of the bills were defeated, one was pulled before voting and two were turned into motions to avoid defeat. Only four of the seven motions made it to a committee. The highlight of the day was that MK Moses (U.T.J.) replaced resigned MK Porush (U.T.J.) as the new Deputy Education Minister.

 

Non-Bills Summary

  • Justice Minister Neeman, Labor and Welfare Minister Kahlon (Likud) and Deputy Finance Minister Cohen (Shas) answered urgent queries at the beginning of the session.
  • Religious Affairs Minister Margi (Shas) announced that the government is appointing MK Moses as the replacement for resigned Deputy Education Minister Porush. Incoming Deputy Education Minister Moses thanked Netanyahu for appointing him and pledged to work on ultra-orthodox education.
  • Seven motions were discussed. Four of the motions were passed by votes of 14-0, 7-6, 11-0 and 9-0 and were sent to their relevant committees. Three motions were not voted on and therefore not sent to a committee.

 

Bills Summary

Motion/Amendment to the Value Added Tax Bill

MK Naffaa (Balad) explained that his amendment would award a VAT (value added tax) exemption on all road safety products. He questioned why there is a VAT exemption on tourists’ massages and not on road safety products. He slammed the VAT on child and baby car seats. He noted that many poor families don’t buy road safety products because they cost a lot of money. He suggested the VAT exemption would encourage at least some of them to purchase at least one car seat that would save at least one life.

Deputy Finance Minister Cohen (Shas) expressed government opposition to the bill and explained that road safety products are already exempt from customs taxes, which enables the importing companies to keep the prices relatively low. He said that an additional tax break on road safety products is unnecessary since the customs tax exemptions are sufficient. He suggested turning the bill into a motion, in order to explore the matter further in a committee.

MK Naffaa agreed.

The motion passed 55-1 and was sent to the Funds Committee.

Motion/Amendment to the Basic Law: The Knesset

MK Eldad (N.U.) stated that if Defense Minister Barak respected the law and the Knesset rulebook there would be no need for the bill. He explained that his amendment would allow the chairman of the defense and foreign affairs committee to punish the defense minister if he repeatedly refuses to attend the Knesset committee he is repeatedly summoned to and refuses to release documents that he is forced to release under law. Eldad demanded that Barak follow the law and attacked Barak for not answering one query, one motion or one bill this term and for frequently refusing to attend the Knesset’s Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee sessions. He blasted Barak for ignoring Speaker Rivlin’s letters on the subject and the government for protecting Barak and opposing his bill.

Speaker Rivlin announced that he supported Eldad’s bill that attempts to protect the authority and responsibility of the Knesset’s committees. Rivlin asked Eldad to turn the bill into a motion to avoid the government’s attempt to defeat the bill. He stressed that this subject is of vital importance.

Justice Minister Neeman said the government opposes the bill, but he was informed by Coalition Chairman Elkin (Likud) that the government will support the motion.

The motion passed 44-1 and was sent to the House Committee.

Amendment to the Civil Service Bill

MK Sheetrit (Kadima) explained that his amendment would prevent long-term appointments of government workers overseas. He explained the bill would limit the tenure of working in a foreign country to four years and force the worker to live in Israel for two years following a four-year post. He noted that several appointments are made for ten years and sometimes that results in foreign ministry workers staying in those countries permanently.

Justice Minister Neeman expressed government opposition to the bill on the grounds that the current law has a four year ceiling for overseas appointments and requires a two year post inside Israel following an overseas appointment. He said that only in special circumstances can those appointments be extended. He called the bill unnecessary and a disgrace. He slammed the MKs, particularly from Kadima, for an incredible increase in worthless bills that lower the respect citizens have for the current laws.

MK Sheetrit charged the government with not following the current law and excessively using the “special circumstances” clause. He explained that that is the reason he proposed the bill and rejected Speaker Rivlin’s proposal to turn the bill into a motion.

The bill was defeated 21-50.

Amendment to the Tenants Rights in Public Housing Bill

MK Molla (Kadima) blasted the lack of public housing and revealed that some people have been on the waiting list for over a decade. He explained that his amendment would increase the rental assistance those on the waiting list receive. He said that the current NIS 1,500 that is given as rental assistance is not enough and that his bill will pay the rent in full.

Housing and Construction Minister Atias (Shas) stated that 135,000 families receive rental assistance from the country and although NIS 1,500 is the average, some receive up to NIS 2,200 per month for rent. He revealed that he supported the bill, but the legislation didn’t pass the ministerial committee of legislative affairs. He announced that people who live in Tel Aviv won’t be happy with 2,200 NIS monthly, but it will be enough to pay rent in Haifa and Hadera. He noted that the country can’t help everyone, but the country is helping 135,000 people, and suggested that the poor leave Gush Dan to maximize their money.

Speaker Rivlin noted that the bill would cost a minimum of NIS 10 billion to implement, and suggested that the money would be better spent elsewhere, such as hiring some of those poor people as policemen so they can contribute toward society and afford rent.

MK Molla attacked Atias, Rivlin and the government, telling them that they were not connected to the common man and may have lost touch with reality.

The bill was defeated 34-49.

Amendment to the Special Grant to Encourage the Negev and Galil Bill

MK Molla explained that his bill would present a one-time grant of NIS 166,000 to those who wish to reside in the Negev and Galil.

Deputy Finance Minister Cohen expressed government opposition to the bill on the grounds that the cost is too high.

MK Ben Simon (Labor) said there is no bill that is more just than this one. He suggested taking money from the defense ministry to implement this bill. He attacked the government for encouraging citizens to move to the settlements instead of the Galil and Negev.

The bill was defeated 28-47.

Amendment to the Evidence Ordinance Bill

MK Solodkin (Kadima) explained that her amendment would require every defendant to have his lawyer or advocate in attendance during any confession and/or recounting of a crime. She said the current situation that allows the police detectives to force a confession or recounting of a crime without the defendant’s lawyer is a violation of human rights.

Minister Begin (Likud) expressed government opposition to the bill on the grounds that the police feel that lawyers will disrupt the investigation. He agreed to Speaker Rivlin’s suggestion to turn the bill into a motion to discuss the matter further.

MK Solodkin dismissed the suggestion to turn the bill into a motion and warned that the bill will be passed in the future, even if it takes her ten years.

The bill was defeated 17-42.

Amendment to the Companies Bill

MK Ghilon (Meretz) blasted most of the MKs for pretending they know what is good for the public and for being populists. He explained his amendment would restrict the salaries of executives in public companies. He went back to preaching and blasted most of the MKs for claiming that they are fighting for the common man for the next ten minutes.

Minister Begin expressed government opposition to the bill on the grounds that there is a government bill on that topic that is in the works and is a few weeks away from being presented to the plenum. Begin agreed to allow Ghilon to wait for the government bill at Deputy Speaker Vaknin’s (Shas) request.

MK Ghilon dismissed the idea of postponing the vote on his bill and demanded an immediate vote, after he lectured the MKs for an additional five minutes on how bad they are at their jobs.

The bill was defeated 17-39.

Amendment to the Income Support Bill

MK Peretz (Labor) began by slamming the government’s policy of raising indirect taxes. He explained his amendment would allow single mothers to have a car and still collect their government payments for being single mothers. He rejected claims that a car is a luxury item.

Labor and Welfare Minister Kahlon (Likud) suggested Peretz delay the vote on the bill.

Peretz agreed and pulled the bill.

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