Monday’s session lasted about six hours and forty five minutes. Seven bills were discussed. Three bills became law after passing their third readings, and four bills were advanced after passing their first readings. Among those advanced were the Petroleum Profits Tax Bill, also known as the Sheshinski Bill, and a bill that would prohibit the selling of fur, which would be the first such bill passed around the globe. The highlight among the new laws is the creation of a national bone marrow donor system. Three no-confidence motions were defeated earlier in the day.

 

Non-Bills Summary

  • Kadima’s no-confidence motion titled ‘Netanyahu increases the gaps in Israel hurting the middle class section of the population’ was defeated 34-53 with 33 MKs not present.
  • Labor and Meretz’s joint no-confidence motion titled ‘The Israeli government is untrustworthy because of deterioration in State education, overcrowding in classrooms, the decline in student achievement and raising the parents’ payments to new heights’ was defeated 33-53 with 34 MKs not present.
  • The three Israeli-Arab parties’ no-confidence motion titled ‘Continuing Israeli blockade on Gaza’ was defeated 8-57-1 with 54 MKs not present.
  • Speaker Rivlin eulogized Palmach fighter and journalist Netiva Ben-Yehuda, who passed away last week.
  • House Committee Chairman Levin (Likud) announced that Kadima MKs Whbee and Tirosh will switch their positions in the Funds Committee. From now on Tirosh will be a permanent member and Whbee will be a substitute.
  • Education Minister Sa’ar announced the transfer of certain powers from the Veterans ministry to the Education ministry.

 

Bills Summary

Amendment to the Supervision of Financial Services Bill

Labor, Welfare and Health Committee Chairman Katz (Likud) explained the amendment would add a long list of regulations in order to supervise the pension consulting and pension marketing industries. He noted this bill was split off from the Arrangements Bill so his committee could spend a few more months tweaking it before its final readings. He concluded by praising the bill and stated that this bill will protect the public.

MK Oron (Meretz) praised the final version of the bill and blasted the previous version that was part of the Arrangements Bill. He blasted the Arrangements Bill as a whole.

MK Levy-Abekasis (Y.B.) praised the bill and thanked MKs Katz and Oron, who gave her a helpful crash course on the complicated subject of pension regulations in Israel.

MK Swaid (Hadash) praised the bill but blasted the neo-liberal economic programs of the capitalistic government. He went on to pitch communism as the most socially just economic system.

MK Khenin (Hadash) praised the bill but criticized Israel’s steady adoption of western capitalistic policies. He stated that Israel’s economy was headed in a better direction in its earlier years and called on the government to return to those days.

Deputy Finance Minister Cohen (Shas) praised the bill and thanked all of the MKs who chose to withdraw their objections to the bill.

The bill passed its second reading 36-0.

The bill passed its third reading 38-0.

Petroleum Profits Tax Bill/ The Sheshinski Bill

Deputy Finance Minister Cohen started presenting the bill because Finance Minister Steinitz was nowhere to be found. Cohen stalled to prevent the bill from being voted down until Steinitz entered the plenum and switched him. The opposition MKs heckled and spoke out against the tactic.

Finance Minister Steinitz (Likud) said that when he entered his position over two years ago he was told that Israel receives fewer taxes from its natural resources than most countries and ranks last among the western and modern countries. He explained the problem started with the fact that the government share of revenues from its natural resources such as natural gas or oil was over 50% in the 1950s when the company tax was about 50%, and as the company tax was reduced over the last 50 years to less than 20%, so did the government’s share. He said other countries dealt with this problem by raising or creating new taxes on natural resources, while Israel remained the only country not to follow suit. Steinitz explained that, under the old tax system, even large natural gas deposits would leave the country with only a small government share. He stated that as a response he asked international natural resources expert and Hebrew University Professor Eytan Sheshinski to chair a committee that met for nine months and resulted in this bill. He said that Sheshinski is fearless and told a story from Sheshinski’s youth in which he beat up a grizzly bear with a stick to get back his bag in Yosemite Park in the U.S. He stressed that Sheshinski found the balance between the government’s share and the profits for the companies that found the natural resources, in order to encourage more companies to discover more natural resources. He noted the average government share in the OECD countries is around 60% and that the Sheshinski Bill will raise the Israeli share to between 56%-57%. He concluded by saying the new tax will allow Israel to raise the budget on education and welfare.

MK Oron supported the bill and appreciated Steinitz’s speech. He noted that as a socialist he would prohibit the private companies from having anything to do with natural resources and have the State control all of it, but he is willing, in the current political climate, to support the bill the way it is until he is appointed finance minister.

MK Khenin supported the bill and praised Steinitz. He blasted the lobbyists and the private companies that hired them. He stressed that he expected a lot more from the bill, mainly in regards to the government playing a bigger role at the expense of the gas and oil tycoons. He concluded by saying Israel should give the companies their money back and develop its own natural resources.

MK Swaid supported the bill and blasted the lobbyists and the gas and oil tycoons who hired them. He slammed the idea that private companies will have any sort of contact with the countries natural resources.

MK Eichler (U.T.J.) said that God intervened by allowing us to find the natural gas deposits now, as Egypt’s and Libya’s natural resources are slowly destroyed. He blasted an MK who said if the money goes to the Haredim it would be better if we didn’t use the gas at all.

MK Zeev (Shas) blasted the bill and supported the private companies that invested billions of dollars to discover the resources. He told the government they are ungrateful and should be ashamed of themselves. He noted without these companies the government wouldn’t get anything and stressed that changing the rules in the middle of the game isn’t democratic. He blasted the government for giving up the search for natural resources in the 1980s after determining there weren’t any left to be found and asked why the government should ask for a bigger share today. He concluded by comparing the situation to a person winning the lottery and then being told by the government that he might have won the lottery, but they are taking away his monetary prize. He called this a bad bill that will hurt the country.

MK Bar-On (Kadima) praised the Israeli film on the children of Sudanese refugees going to school in Tel Aviv that won an Oscar. He went on to blast the bill and support the private companies that discovered the natural resources. He said that as a former finance minister he disagrees with Steinitz’s numbers and analysis. He concluded by praising capitalism and slammed Oron’s socialism and Khenin’s communism.

MK Majadele (Labor) supported the bill and blasted those who opposed it, calling them hypocrites. He said this bill is good for the public and that is what is important.

MK Cabel (Labor) supported the bill and Steinitz. He warned the fight in the committee is ahead of us, and the bill might change before it is passed.

MK Maklev (U.T.J.) thanked God that we have this subject to argue about. He said that he supports the bill presented by the finance minister but agrees with some of former finance minister Bar-On’s concerns and hopes there will be some compromises in the committee.

MK Sheetrit (Kadima) supported the government over the private companies, which resulted in heckling from his colleague MK Bar-On. Sheetrit stressed that this bill is a good idea.

MK Ariel (N.U.) noted that the bill is not retroactive and will apply only to future discoveries. He questioned who exactly falls into the grey area of those who invested in discovering gas or oil, but have not started refining it. He summarized by stating the grey area is what people are arguing over and suggested in the committee that these decisions are made black and white.

MK Yacimovich (Labor) blasted the gas and oil tycoons and attacked their lobbyists and high-powered friends throughout the Israeli media. She said much has changed since the 1952 bill and this much needed update must be passed as soon as possible. She noted that the bill is not retroactive, as MK Ariel did. She accused Kadima of flanking Likud on the right with their support for the gas tycoons.

MK Wilf (Independence) praised the bill and the natural gases that will grant Israel energy independence. She stressed the importance of energy independence on our economy.

MK Shama (Likud) supported Sheshinski, his committee and the bill they presented. He praised Steinitz for supporting Sheshinski over the tycoons and their lobbyist army.

Finance Minister Steinitz revealed that, as a former philosophy professor, he does not understand the logic of those who oppose the bill on the grounds that Israeli citizens do not have the right to benefit from their own natural resources. He thanked Prime Minister Netanyahu for supporting the bill and the philosophy behind the bill. He stressed there is no retroactive part of this bill.

The bill passed its first reading 36-8-1 and was sent to the House Committee to decide whether the Finance or Funds Committee will discuss the bill.

Amendment to the Employment of Women Bill

Labor and Welfare Minister Kahlon (Likud) explained that the amendment would allow the full rights to adoptive and foster parents that new mothers receive today, such as maternity leave.

The bill passed its first reading 19-0 and was sent to the Labor, Welfare and Health Committee.

Amendment to the Pharmacists Ordinance Bill

Education Minister Sa’ar (Likud) explained that the amendment would extend the temporary provision of the protection of confidential information disclosed in medical cases for another five years.

MK Ariel supported the bill and went on to ask the ministers present to speak out against the shooting of Israeli citizens in the Gilad Farm by the Israeli police. He asked them to prevent the next occurrence of such an incident.

The bill passed its first reading 13-0 and was sent to the Labor, Welfare and Health Committee.

Amendment to the Proposed Wildlife Protection Bill

Environment Minister Erdan (Likud) explained that the amendment would prohibit hunting animals for sport and the import of all fur products and increase the punishment for poisoning animals or throwing out one’s pets into the street or open spaces. He noted that fur products for religious purposes will be allowed under the new bill. MK Cabel heckled him on that point. Erdan defended the decision saying that the State shouldn’t suppress religious freedom.

MK Hotoveli (Likud) said she was embarrassed to be a coalition MK on the day of the Gilad Farm shootings and compared them to the Amona fiasco of 2006. She blasted the policemen who wore ski masks while shooting their citizens, treating them like convicted terrorists.

MK Zeev said he cried when he saw that this bill grants more rights to animals than the citizens of Gilad Farm received when they were lined up and shot at 4:30 AM. He noted that streimels might be prohibited under the bill that is being discussed, and he blasted the vague bill.

MK Ariel praised the bill and said that the bill exists in the bible as part of the commandment of not harming animals. He praised MKs Hotoveli and Zeev’s speeches. He asked how Israeli citizens could receive the same bullets that were shot and killed several men on the Mavi Marmara ship of the Turkish flotilla. He stressed that the Gilad Farm shootings were worse than Amona.

MK Gafni (U.T.J.) noted that several countries have forbidden “shechita” because they feel it violates animal rights. Gafni asked why Israel should be the first country to prohibit fur, considering it might encourage other countries to adopt the bill but without the clause that allows fur for religious reasons. He also suggested we care for our own citizens before we care for our animals.

The bill passed its first reading 14-0 with 2 MKs abstaining and was sent to the Interior and Environment Committee.

Amendment to the National Insurance Bill

Labor, Welfare and Health Committee Chairman Katz explained the amendment would correct the current system in which a person who serves fewer than 75 days of military reserve duty receives his payment from his employer. He announced the new system would have the money transferred directly to soldier without the employer acting as a middleman. He added this system would be enforced for those who serve more than seven days per year, as opposed to 75 as was the case previously. Katz expressed regret that the bill won’t take affect for those who serve for seven or fewer days as was outlined when the bill passed its first reading.

The bill passed its second reading 11-0.

The bill passed its third reading 12-0.

MK Cabel thanked everyone who helped him pass the bill he sponsored earlier in the term.

Prescription Bone Marrow Donors Bill

Labor, Welfare and Health Committee Chairman Katz explained the bill would create a national bone marrow donor system, including a bone marrow donor bank. He noted that there are three private bone marrow donor banks in Israel and that they are quite expensive. He announced that by creating a national bank this bill will allow the “average Joe” to find an appropriate affordable solution. He added that the police and court system will not be allowed to access the information in the national bank and use it against Israel’s citizens. He thanked his assistants for helping him with the bill.

The bill passed its second reading 10-0.

The bill passed its third reading 10-0.

MK Orlev (J.H.), who co-sponsored the bill, thanked a long list of people including his assistants who helped him along the journey of the past five years that it took to pass this bill. He noted this bill will save between 150-160 lives each year. He called this bill the most important and historic of all the 50+ bills that he has passed in his career as an MK.

MK Bielski (Kadima), who co-sponsored the bill, said that if this is the only bill that he ever passes he will consider his tenure as an MK successful. He thanked Orlev for pressing everyone to pass the bill and Netanyahu for approving the budget to implement the bill.

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