Last Wednesday’s session lasted about eight and a half hours. 10 bills were discussed. Four bills were advanced after passing their preliminary readings, four were defeated and two were turned into motions to avoid defeat. The bills advanced included incentives for New Zealand foreign workers, creating a framework for disadvantaged at-risk children and forcing the bank to print all of their statements and documents for the elderly in large print. The two bills turned into motions deal with pension benefits for those who did not work 25 years or averaged fewer than nine months of work each year and a prohibition on sending emails while driving. Homeland Security Minister Aharonovitch made another appearance in the Knesset to answer additional urgent queries on the Gilad Farm incident.


Non-Bills Summary

  • Homeland Security Minister Aharonovitch (Y.B.) answered three urgent queries and Deputy Finance Minister Cohen (Shas) answered one at the beginning of the session.
  • Seven motions on the hot topics of the day were discussed. Six of the motions were passed and sent for further discussions in the various Knesset committees by the votes 6-0, 8-0, 8-0, 4-0, 6-0 and 9-0. One of the motions was not voted on and therefore defeated.
  • Transportation Minister Katz (Likud) answered ten queries at the end of the session.


Bills Summary

Amendment to the Banking Bill

MK Ilatov (Y.B.) explained that his amendment is a customer service bill. He stated that it would set a minimum font size on all banking papers and statements that are given to an elderly citizen. He hoped that the new size, which will be large print, will enable the elderly to see what is written in their financial documents.

Deputy Finance Minister Cohen (Shas) expressed government support for the bill.

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

Amendment to the Israel Economic Recovery Plan Bill

MK Katz (Likud) explained that his amendment to achieve budget targets for the economic policy in fiscal years 2003 and 2004 needs updating after Israel signed a new deal with New Zealand. He explained that the amendment will place a restriction on the levy for employing a foreign worker for New Zealand, thereby enticing New Zealanders to work in Israel.

Deputy Finance Minister Cohen expressed government support for the bill.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 29-0 and was sent to the Labor Committee.

Two Amendments to the Youth Bill

MK Levy-Abekasis (Y.B.) explained that her amendment would afford care and supervision for disadvantaged at-risk children by creating a framework that will treat, watch over and serve as a second home for these children. She stated the new framework would serve as an informal education stronghold, as both a supplement for certain children and a system for the 150 children who have been taken out of the public school system by court orders.  These children will be the first to enjoy the benefits of the new framework.

MK Orlev (J.H.) presented his amendment, which is similar but on a smaller scale. He praised MK Levy-Abekasis for proposing a larger, daring bill. He called Levy-Abekasis Levy-Azoulay by mistake twice but wasn’t corrected by Speaker Rivlin.

Labor and Welfare Minister Kahlon (Likud) expressed government support for the bill and announced there would be 1,000 spaces in the creation of the framework.

MK Zeev (Shas) objected to the bill on the grounds that it severely harms parents’ rights at the expense of strengthening social workers’. He blasted the current system and warned this bill will make things worse. He feared this bill would encourage the courts to kick more children out of their schools and take more children away from their families.

MK Solodkin (Kadima) objected to the bill on the same grounds as MK Zeev and added the bill has too loosely defined “disadvantaged at-risk children”, which she fears will result in terrible outcomes.

MK Levy-Abekasis defended the social workers and noted that parents’ rights are only taken away by court orders. She stated the bill will help children.

The first bill passed its preliminary reading 45-1-1 and was sent to the Labor Committee.

The second bill passed its preliminary reading 43-0-1 and was sent to the Labor Committee.

Amendment to the National Insurance Bill/Motion

MK Naffaa (Balad) explained that his amendment would delay the gradual reduction of elderly citizens’ pension allowance for those who did not work more than 25 years or worked for an average of fewer than nine months per year. He stressed that it would help the elderly to give them more time to adapt to the changes.

Labor and Welfare Minister Kahlon said that it is a worthy bill but the government objects to it on the grounds that it can’t afford it. He asked Naffaa to turn the bill into a motion in order to at least save part of it. Naffaa agreed.

The motion passed 33-0 and was sent to the Funds Committee.

Amendment to the National Health Insurance Bill

MK Oron (Meretz) explained that his amendment would exempt a male homemaker from paying national health insurance. He said the current situation in which female homemakers are exempt but males aren’t is absurd.

Deputy Health Minister Litzman (U.T.J.) said that he agrees with the bill but the government voted against it in the ministerial committee of legislative affairs. He revealed the government position in which the NIS 130 million cost of the bill was the main reason for its objections.

MK Oron expressed his frustration that he won’t ever have a chance to pass the bill again. He reminded Litzman that he plans to retire this month and it saddens him to not have this passed. He concluded by calling for communism within the health ministry services.

The bill was defeated 27-39.

Amendment to the Income Support Bill

MK Solodkin (Kadima) explained that her amendment would increase the amount an elderly person or couple is allowed to earn from an income in addition to earning a pension. She stated that the increase of taxes across the board means the government should ease the restriction they place on people who wish to work instead of retiring.

Labor and Welfare Minister Kahlon objected to the bill due to financial constraints. He stated the millions needed to implement this bill just aren’t available.

The bill was defeated 19-35.

Amendment to the Paralympics Bill

MK Yisrael Hasson (Y.B.) explained that his amendment would limit the Head of Benefits and Rehabilitation in the Defense Ministry to a four-year term. He noted that his co-sponsors are Likud MKs. Hasson argued with Prime Minister Netanyahu about the bill for a full ten minutes.

Minister Eitan (Likud) objected to the bill on the grounds that it is a political bill against Defense Minister Barak (Independence).

MK Hasson attacked Ministers Barak and Eitan and screamed at them for five minutes.

Minister Eitan attacked Hasson for his words against him.

The bill was defeated 23-38.

Immigration Bill

MK Sheetrit (Kadima) explained that his original bill would create a new immigration policy that would ensure Israel will stay a Jewish and democratic state. He noted that there are over 400,000 African infiltrators and over 100,000 illegal Palestinians immigrants living in Israel today. He warned that without this bill Israel might lose its Jewish identity within a decade or so. He slammed the current government policy which does not allow for control of its own borders.

Interior Minister Yishai (Shas) said that Eilat has been almost captured by illegal immigrants. He defended his immigration policy and said he is a hawk on fighting against illegal immigration, and is fighting to keep Israel’s Jewish identity. He stated this bill is a small-scale bill and he is preparing a bigger bill that is tougher on illegals.

MK Sheetrit stressed this bill is defending the government and there is no reason to oppose it. He tried to negotiate a compromise with Minister Yishai but was unsuccessful.

The bill was defeated 17-41.

Amendment to the Traffic Ordinance Bill/Motion

MK Tiviaev (Kadima) told the story of a child from his hometown of Ofakim who died in a hit-and-run by a taxi driver. He noted that more people have died on Israel’s roads than in all of the wars combined. He explained that his amendment would prohibit drivers from sending e-mails while driving.

Transportation Minister Katz (Likud) expressed support for the idea but stressed that this subject can be solved without legislation. He agreed to add the prohibition into the ordinance in exchange for changing the bill into a motion and discussing the matter further in committee.

MK Tiviaev agreed but noted that he lacked favoritism, since a similar bill on prohibiting texting while driving was passed as legislation and not as an ordinance. He used the rest of his time to discuss crime in Jerusalem.

The motion passed 11-0 and was sent to the Finance Committee.