Monday’s session lasted about three hours and forty minutes. Eight bills were discussed. Six bills became law after passing their third readings and two were advanced after passing their first readings. The highlight bills of the day were a new law that will remove all unnecessary minefields and a new law that eases the judges’ workload by 25% at the expense of reducing defendants’ rights. The latter is one of only two government bills during this entire term to be defeated at one point. In both cases the government eventually managed to pull a majority together to advance them and eventually pass them at a later date.


Non-Bills Summary

  • 15 MKs discussed an urgent motion on the Itamar Massacre. The motion to discuss the matter further in the plenum so other MKs would have a chance to talk was passed 16-0.
  • The Knesset approved the transfer of certain powers from Agriculture Minister Noked (Independence) to Industry and Trade Minister Simhon (Independence) by a vote of 16-0.
  • The Knesset approved the Finance Committee’s request to split a bill into two bills by a vote of 12-0.
  • House Committee Chairman Levin (Likud) announced which disputed bills will be discussed in which committees.


Bills Summary

Amendment to the Criminal Procedure Bill

Law, Constitution and Justice Committee Chairman Rotem (Y.B.) explained that his amendment would extend the enforcement powers of the police to keep a prisoner under arrest for up to 90 days without seeing a judge, after he saw a judge in his first 96 hours. He added that the bill would also prohibit the second appeal to sentencing, which prisoners are currently allowed by law. He concluded by explaining this bill will reduce the judges’ workload by up to 25%.

MK Khenin (Hadash) expressed his five objections to the bill. He said we all want to reduce the judges’ workload, but this bill reduces the rights of every citizen. He asked how a democratic country can keep a prisoner in jail for 90 days without seeing a judge, after he has been charged, but before he has a chance to be proven innocent. He blasted the clause that takes away the democratic right to a second appeal. He stated this bill does the opposite of protecting the defendant as innocent until proven guilty. He blasted the clause where a person can be found guilty and not be sentenced for up to nine months. He attacked the bill as a violation of the basic right of freedom by removing several key meetings of a trial and extending the time a defendant waits for his trial to finish.

The bill’s paragraphs passed their second readings 38-3, 37-3 and 36-3.

MK Khenin’s objections were defeated 2-34, 3-36 and 3-32. He agreed to withdraw his last two objections after it became clear they would also be defeated.

The bill passed its third reading 36-3.

Amendment to the Disengagement Plan Implementation Bill

Funds Committee Chairman Gafni (U.T.J.) explained that the bill would add those who rented in Gush Katif for over two years before being evicted from their home to become part of the compensation plan and receive assistance towards housing. He stressed that this bill is important because these people are still living in caravans and have gone through trauma from years of neglect. Gafni said he agreed with Oron’s objection but the government doesn’t have the money for it, so he asks the coalition to oppose it.

MK Oron (Meretz) explained that his objection would add a clause to the bill that enables the financial compensation of 41 people who owned factories or buildings in the Erez Crossing and were forced to evacuate them by the order of former Prime Minister Olmert a few years after the disengagement. He complained it isn’t fair that these people evacuated without causing problems, had their lives torn apart, and now have nothing to show for it because they didn’t live there, they only worked there.

The bill passed its paragraphs in the second reading 38-0-1 and 37-0-1.

MK Oron’s objection was defeated 4-28.

The bill passed its third reading 38-0-1.

Evacuation of Minefields Bill

MK Bar-On (Kadima) reported that former MK Hanegbi (Kadima) and his 72 co-sponsors signed the bill after meeting a child who lost his leg on a field trip in the Golan last year. Bar-On stated that the bill creates a committee that would be charged with removing all unnecessary mines. He stressed that the land will be able to be used for national parks and reserves or other public purposes. He thanked Prime Minister Netanyahu for supporting the bill.

The bill passed its second reading 43-0.

The bill passed its third reading 43-0.

Expanding the Fair Representation of Women Bill

MK Itzik (Kadima) explained that the amendment would demand that every government committee have at least one female member.

MK Ben-Ari (N.U.) blasted the Arab MKs who called Palestinian terrorists “freedom fighters”. He slammed the Arab MKs who called for the release of terrorists. He attacked the government for not building the 400 approved housing units in Itamar.

MK Zeev (Shas) opposed the bill on the grounds that it will complicate the committee selection process. He asked what would happen if there are no qualified women who can be appointed to the committee and whether that would that prevent the committee from being founded. He noted that we had a female Prime Minister Meir, a current female opposition leader and several female candidates for the President, such as former Speaker Itzik. He concluded by saying that the bill discriminates against men.

MK Wilf (Independence) said she supported the bill. She hoped this bill would give a push to the current system to choose talented women who are not well-known and would not have had a chance without this bill to be appointed to a committee.

MK Eichler (U.T.J.) asked why the government supports this bill and a similar bill for Arabs, but opposes the Expanding the Fair Representation of Haredim Bill. He asked how they can claim that they can’t approve the bill because they disagree over who is considered Haredi, but when it comes to bills that discriminate against the Haredim everything works out.

MK Ilatov (Y.B.) supported the bill and noted that one-third of his party’s MKs are female.

MK Yoel Hasson (Kadima) supported the bill and called himself a feminist. He went on to tell the people of Itamar that the “country” of Tel Aviv is with them and are condemning the massacre and demanding justice for the killers.

The bill passed its first reading 22-1 and was sent to the Women’s Rights Committee. MK Shamalov Berkovich (Kadima) announced that she opposed the bill by mistake, but the MKs heckled her claiming she opposed the bill on purpose.

Amendment to the Israel Economic Recovery Program to Achieve Budget Targets of Economic Policy for Fiscal Years 2003 and 2004 Bill

Labor, Welfare and Health Committee Chairman Katz (Likud) explained that the amendment would exempt New Zealand workers from various taxes. He stated this would help Israelis hire New Zealand workers because of the tax break.

The bill passed its second reading 21-0.

The bill passed its third reading 21-0.

Amendment to the Land Bill

Interior and Environment Committee Chairman Azoulay (Shas) explained that the amendment would require an apartment to have a Shabbat elevator even if it is the only elevator in the building in the event that 51% of the residents approve the measure. He added that 100% of the building would be required to pay for the Shabbat elevator expenses, even if they opposed the Shabbat elevator.

The bill passed its second reading 18-0.

The bill passed its third reading 19-0.

MK Orbach (J.H.) thanked the Knesset for approving the law. He noted it took him two years to gain support for it. He thanked MK Ilatov for helping him find a solution that will work for both religious and secular residents.

Amendment to the Energy Sources Bill

Interior and Environment Committee Chairman Azoulay explained that the amendment would require the government to implement conservation programs in its energy plants (water, electricity, gas, etc), and add additional security protocols to protect the plants and their workers.

MK Khenin called the bill an energy revolution that will conserve energy and protect the environment. He hoped this bill would bring Israel another step closer to energy independence. He thanked MK Ilatov for convincing the government to drop its objections to the bill.

The bill passed its second reading 17-0.

The bill passed its third reading 18-0.

Amendment to the Patents Bill

Agriculture Minister Noked (Independence) explained that the amendment would create a national authority that would maintain an index to be used for searches of all of Israel’s patents.

The bill passed its first reading 16-0 and was sent to the Justice Committee.