Last Tuesday’s session lasted about three hours. Two bills were discussed, and both passed in their first readings. A bill limiting how alcohol products are marketed and a bill on creating a committee charged with fighting hunger were both advanced.

Non-Bills Summary

  • 22 MKs spoke during the one-minute speech segment that opened the day. The main topic was the MKs’ response to Netanyahu’s foreign policy speech the day before.
  • Speaker Rivlin gave a warm speech to the Kazakhstan-Israel Friendship Society leaders.
  • MK Eldad (N.U.) gave his report on the Knesset’s Middle East delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Athens. He noted that there was an interesting discussion on whether Jordan should be a Palestinian state and Bahrain surprisingly supported it.
  • A motion on the 2011 Nakba Day events and their implications were discussed by nine MKs and summarized by Minister Peled (Likud). The Knesset rejected a proposal to discuss the matter further by a 2-5 vote among the handful of MKs who were left at the end of the day.

Bills Summary

National Council for Food Security Bill

MK Avraham Balila (Kadima) stated that 1.5 million Israelis live under the poverty line and her bill would create a 13-member committee reporting to the Labor and Welfare Minister to solve the hunger problem. She stressed that the lack of food is more critical than any other issue that poor people face and that should be the first issue the country solves for them. She rejected the country’s reliance on private and outside organizations that are doing the work the country should be doing itself. She noted that the committee would not be authorized to allocate funds but would be able to suggest to the minister that he allocate funds for feeding Israel’s citizens.

MK Ben-Ari (N.U.) recalled his childhood in the Hatikva neighborhood of Tel Aviv, where in the 1970’s some of his neighbors didn’t have electricity. He recalled his time as a teacher in Bet Shemesh in the 1980’s, when some of the students didn’t have money to buy socks and suffered frost bite in the winter. He expressed frustration that today in other cities similar problems still exist, such as people who don’t have enough money to buy beds. He stated the biggest problem is that there are people who don’t know how to ask for help because they don’t know they are entitled to certain privileges from the government.

MK Eichler (U.T.J.) recalled his plan from seven years ago that would entitle poor citizens to food stamps and how Prime Minister Sharon opposed and defeated his bill. He went on to express his frustration with the housing shortage and asked the government to listen to him and not to wait seven years to suggest the same exact thing he did, like they did with this bill.

MK Maklev (U.T.J.) expressed his frustration about Israel’s poverty and expressed support for the bill.

MK Molla (Kadima) praised the bill and slammed the government for not feeding its citizens. He stated that the government should not rely on third parties to bail it out of its commitments. He stated he is in favor of big government.

MK Zeev (Shas) warned everyone that solving poverty will not happen in one day. He quoted the torah that states there will always be poor people. He recalled a situation when he was the Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem and a man from the Har Nof neighborhood was thrown in jail for not paying the water bill, leaving his wife and ten children without him or running water. Zeev paid the bill and had the man released. He noted many people today are thrown in jail for not paying utility bills and that preventing this occurrence is the easiest way to help the poor.

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

Limitation on the Advertising and Marketing of Alcoholic Beverages Bill

MK Danon (Likud) noted that between 50% and 60% of Israeli teens consume alcohol. He slammed those who market alcohol as cool to teenagers. He explained that the first part of the bill will prevent the alcohol companies from advertising or marketing their products with celebrities, athletes, models or any other person. He said that they will only be able to market their product with pictures of the product itself and by itself. He explained that the second part of the bill would put a warning on the label of the alcohol product that excessive drinking is dangerous for one’s health. He acknowledged that this will not prevent teens from drinking but said he hoped that it might limit it. He said it will also send a message that the government is against underage drinking.

MK Eichler noted that this is the first generation of Israelis who are drinking. He stated that these percentages did not exist a decade ago. He urged Danon to add a clause to ensure that underage drinking of wine for religious purposes would not be effected by this bill.

MK Ben-Ari recalled when he and Danon took a tour of downtown Jerusalem at two in the morning and spoke with drunken teens and the police who were sitting there did nothing to prevent the drinking. He recalled the soldiers who were drinking in their uniforms and the techniques they described for getting drunk faster and cheaper. He stated that the next generation is drunk and empty of principles and confessed he was worried about the future of this generation and the country. He praised the bill and expressed his support.

MK Levin (Likud) praised and supported the bill. He called for education to warn against underage drinking and drunkenness.

MK Zeev said that wine isn’t the problem but hard alcohol is. He questioned what the difference is between hard alcohol and other drugs, calling for it to be outlawed. He noted that in the United States the punishment for a drunken road accident death is 21 years in jail but that here in Israel the punishment is much less. He praised and supported the bill.

Deputy Speaker Danon added that in some states in the United States it is forbidden to sell alcohol on Sundays. He explained this was enacted so that no one showed up drunk to church.

The bill passed its first reading 8-0 and was sent to the Finance Committee.