Last Wednesday’s session lasted about ten hours. Nine bills were discussed. Two bills were advanced after passing their preliminary readings, four were defeated and three were turned into motions in order to avoid defeat. The headline of the day was Netanyahu voting against his bill from the previous term that would grant full citizen rights to settlers in Judea and Samaria, and Netanyahu accidentally voting against his own speech in the 40-MK discussion.


Non-Bills Summary

  • House Committee Chairman Levin (Likud) revealed the new breakdown of which MKs will represent the Labor party in the various committees. MK Cabel will serve on the House and Defense and Foreign Affairs Committees. MK Yacimovich will serve on the Funds and Labor, Welfare and Health Committees. MK Peretz will serve on the Finance Committee. MK Braverman will serve on the Interior and Environment Committee. MK Herzog will serve on the Law, Constitution and Justice Committee. MK Ben Simon will serve on the Women’s Rights, Science and Technology, and Immigration and Absorption Committees. He announced the following substitutes for the Labor party: MK Herzog on the House and Defense and Foreign Affairs Committees, MK Majadele on the Funds Committee, MK Braverman on the Finance Committee and MK Cabel on the Law, Constitution and Justice Committee. He also announced the six committees in which the lone non-minister Independence MK Wilf will represent her party. They are the House, Funds, Defense and Foreign Affairs, Immigration and Absorption, State Comptroller, and Science and Technology Committees. He announced that MK Pinyan (Likud) will be a substitute in the Defense and Foreign Affairs, Science and Technology, and Immigration and Absorption Committees. MK Levin will be a substitute in the Funds and State Comptroller Committees. MK Elkin (Likud) will be a substitute in the Education, Culture and Sport Committee. MK Hotovely (Likud) will be a substitute in the House Committee. MK Abesadze (Kadima) will be a substitute in the House, Finance, and Interior and Environment Committees. MK Zeev (Shas) will replace MK Amsellem (Shas) as a substitute in the Law, Constitution and Justice Committee. All of the measures were approved by a single 7-1 vote.
  • A discussion requested by 40 MKs on the topic of the “Netanyahu Government’s failure in the political, economic and social sectors” took place. 16 MKs spoke, followed by Prime Minister Netanyahu and Opposition Leader Livni. A number of Kadima MKs were thrown out of the plenum during the heated debate. The Knesset approved Netanyahu’s speech 46-33, even though Netanyahu accidentally voted against it.
  • Three motions were discussed. A motion on Education Minister Sa’ar’s (Likud) program for students’ class trips to Hebron was discussed by four MKs and the minister himself and was defeated 6-8. A motion on the cuts across the board in the government offices was discussed by four MKs and Finance Minister Steinitz and was sent to the Funds Committee for further discussion. A motion on the PA request to the UN Security Council and the U.S. veto was discussed by five MKs and Minister Steinitz and was defeated 4-5.
  • Transportation Minister Katz (Likud), Education Minister Sa’ar and Deputy Foreign Minister Ayalon (Y.B.) answered urgent queries at the beginning of the session. Deputy Foreign Minister Ayalon answered additional queries at the end of the session.


Bills Summary

Amendment to the Joint Investment Trust Law

MK Pinyan (Likud) explained that his amendment would require public joint investment companies to publish a prospectus in the newspaper when they are formed.

Justice Minister Neeman expressed government support for the bill.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 22-0 and was sent to the Finance Committee.

Amendment to the Entry into Israel Law

MK Azoulay (Shas) explained that his amendment would establish a committee chaired by a retired judge that would allow, in certain humanitarian cases, employing a foreign worker in the field of nursing beyond the original departure date. He added that certain elderly people who have foreign private nurses and are near death are forced to get a new nurse for the last few months of their life because the previous nurse’s visa expired. He expressed hope the new committee would correct the situation.

Interior Minister Yishai (Shas) expressed government support for the bill.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 41-0 and was sent to the Interior Committee.

Amendment to the Planning and Construction Bill/Motion

MK Whbee (Kadima) explained that his amendment would promote speeding up the authorization for receiving building and planning permits in areas where there is a high concentration of illegal housing. He stated that these areas have a legal housing shortage and therefore have resorted to illegal building. He hoped this would encourage people to build houses legally, as opposed to taking the law into their own hands. He noted the Druze community, which he represents, has a severe housing shortage and said this bill is a necessary step to correct it.

Interior Minister Yishai opposed the bill on the grounds that this bill will encourage illegal building and hurt the public. He stated the government is looking into various solutions to the housing shortage and have a number of government bills currently being discussed in Knesset committees. He suggested turning the bill into a motion.

MK Whbee blasted the government, who haven’t authorized any building in the Druze community for over a decade. Whbee agreed to turn the bill into a motion.

The motion passed 83-0 and was sent to the Interior Committee.

Amendment to the Public Housing Tenants Rights Bill

MK Solodkin (Kadima) explained that her amendment would entitle free public housing for all new immigrants.

Housing and Construction Minister Atias (Shas) opposed the bill on the grounds that the bill discriminates against Israeli citizens who are not immigrants. He attacked the idea that new immigrants or older immigrants should receive public housing over regular Israeli citizens.

MK Solodkin said the subject isn’t the equality of all Israeli citizens. She stressed that the current situation discriminates against new immigrants and discourages people from making aliyah.

The bill was defeated 26-37.

Amendment to the Population Registry Bill

MK Oron (Meretz) explained that his amendment would change the definition of who is considered a Jew on a teudat zehut (national identification document) in the interior ministry. In the new definition conservative and reform Jews and their converts would be defined as Jewish.

Interior Minister Yishai opposed the bill on the grounds that the conservative and reform Jews are not Jewish therefore there is no reason to change the definition of who is Jewish.

MK Oron said that there are hundreds of thousands of citizens who view themselves as Jewish and he feels strongly that they deserve to be considered Jewish.

The bill was defeated 3-54.

Amendment to the Compulsory Education Bill

MK Barakeh (Hadash) explained that his amendment would exempt all parents from mandatory payments for their children’s education, including school books and field trips.

Education Minister Sa’ar (Likud) opposed the bill on the grounds that it would cost over NIS 1 billion annually to implement.

MK Barakeh warned that there will be students who are discriminated against and will not attend to their studies as a result.

The bill was defeated 15-34-1.

Amendment to the Retirement Age Bill/Motion

MK Ganaim (R.T.) explained his amendment would slowly start lowering the retirement age for teachers.

Deputy Finance Minister Cohen (Shas) opposed the bill on the grounds that 60 is a respectable retirement age. He added that certain applicants can file for early retirement at the age of 50 if they meet certain criteria. He concluded that other jobs that are more demanding than teaching do not receive such benefits. He asked Ganaim to turn the bill into a motion, and Ganaim agreed.

The motion passed 25-0 and was sent to the Education Committee.

Amendment to the Law and Administration Ordinance Bill

MK Katzeleh (N.U.) explained that his amendment would begin the application of Israeli law in Jewish cities, regional councils and local councils within Judea and Samaria effective immediately. He explained that he first brought up this bill a year ago and the government has postponed the vote ever since by making false promises. Katzeleh asked that MK Ariel finish presenting the bill because he was sick and hoarse and no one could hear him. Speaker Rivlin authorized the request.

MK Ariel (N.U.) clarified that the bill would apply Israeli law to the recognized Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria but would not apply Israeli law to the open areas, the Palestinian-controlled areas or the rest of Judea and Samaria. He spent a great deal of time quoting verses from the Torah (Bible) which mention the various Jewish settlements that are included in the bill, such as Hebron, Bet-El, Shiloh and Rachel’s tomb. He cited several historical links between the settlements and Jewish history including the British Balfour Declaration of 1917. MK Zahalka (Balad) heckled Ariel as he discussed the history of the six day war in 1967. After the long history lesson, he went on to list the ministers and MKs who co-sponsored this identical bill three years ago, including the main sponsor at the time, Prime Minister Netanyahu. Some of the other co-sponsors from three years ago include current Ministers Edelstein, Eitan, Erdan, Kahlon, Katz, Livnat, Landver, Misezhnikov, Margi, Sa’ar, Steinitz and Shalom; current Deputy Ministers Cohen and Litzman; Speaker Rivlin; current coalition MKs Ilatov, Orlev, Azoulay, Elkin, Amsellem, Gafni, Vaknin, Zeev, Cohen, Katz, Michaeli, Miller, Rotem, and Shemtov; and Kadima MK Yisrael Hasson. He said that citizens who pay taxes, serve the army and fulfill all their civil duties must be given full rights as a citizen, as opposed to the current law that requires them to stand trial in military courts. He called the current situation not worthy, not fair, not democratic, not Jewish and without integrity. He noted that most of the ministers who were asked to present the government position on the bill refused to do so, and he called on them to support the bill.

Minister Begin (Likud) agreed that the government pushed off the decision on this bill for too long. He announced that he and all of the ministers decided to vote against this bill. Begin agreed that Alon Moreh and Bet-El are part of our Jewish heritage. He said that the population in Judea and Samaria has reached 350,000 people without this bill, and he expects the numbers to grow beyond that mark without this bill as well. MKs Ben-Ari and Hotovely heckled Begin from the right and MKs Bar-On, Shai, Tibi, Barakeh and Yoel Hasson heckled him from the left. MK Ben-Ari was removed from the plenum after being called to order three times. Begin concluded that this bill will not be passed until a peace agreement is signed with the Palestinians.

MK Ariel and Minister Begin shared a few words by the podium. Speaker Rivlin called on them to save it for his chambers, where they were both invited for after the bill was voted on. Ariel revealed that Begin attacked him for accusing the government of being immoral and inhumane by opposing the bill. Ariel responded that it is immoral and inhumane that Begin has more rights as a citizen than Ariel’s wife and children because Ariel lives in Judea and Samaria. Ariel went on to attack Likud and Yisrael Beitenu, who promised big things for Judea and Samaria during the election campaign and are opposing this bill. He attacked the government for applying a building freeze by not approving one building in Judea and Samaria since they took power two years ago. He asked if any of the ministers knows if there is one other country in the world that prohibits Jews from building homes. He noted that not one minister or MK stood up, because the answer is clear. He concluded by attacking the government for prohibiting Jews from visiting the temple mount. He asked his co-sponsors to vote in favor of the bill. Among the current co-sponsors of the bill from the coalition were Likud MKs Levin, Hotovely, Elkin, Danon, Regev, Shama and Pinyan; Yisrael Beitenu MKs Rotem, Miller, Kirshenbaum, Amar, Michaeli, Matalon and Levy-Abekasis; Shas MKs Vaknin, Michaeli, Azoulay, Amsellem, Cohen and Zeev; United Torah Judaism MKs Maklev and Moses; and Jewish Home MK Orbach. None of them voted for the bill, but all were either absent or refused to participate in the vote.

40 MKs from the opposition requested a roll-call to embarrass Netanyahu. Only 20 of the 66 coalition MKs attended the vote and opposed the bill; the other 46 MKs were scared off by the roll-call and the cameras that were set up in the audience.

Netanyahu, Likud ministers Edelstein, Eitan, Erdan, Begin, Ya’alon, Kahlon, Livnat, Meridor, Sa’ar, Peled and Steinitz and Speaker Rivlin opposed the bill. Independence Ministers Vilnai, Noked and Simhon and MK Wilf also opposed the bill. The Degel Hatorah party of the United Torah Judaism faction, MKs Gafni and Maklev, opposed the bill. Deputy Foreign Minister Ayalon also opposed the bill. The opposition’s 29 MKs who opposed the bill waited to vote until the second and third roll-calls in order to pressure the 20 coalition MKs who opposed the bill to search for their missing colleagues. The 4 National Union MKs were the only MKs to vote for the bill.

The bill was defeated 4-49 with 67 MKs not present.

Protecting the Rights of Israeli Citizens Where Israeli Law Does Not Apply Bill/Motion

MK Zeev (Shas) explained that his bill would prohibit the State from evicting by force settlers from their homes. He stated the bill requires Israel to follow the human rights requirements of the United Nations when it comes to evicting a population from their property, such as not throwing a person out of his house by force and when he does not have a different place to live.

Minister Begin expressed government opposition to the bill and explained that he came to an agreement with MK Zeev that the bill would be turned into a motion.

The motion passed 8-1 and will be discussed further in the plenum.