The session on Monday, May 30, lasted about five hours. Nine bills were discussed. Three bills became law after passing their third readings, and six bills were advanced after passing their first readings. The three new laws are part of the court registrars’ reform that allows them to try most civil cases instead of judges. A bill about army radio turned into a bashing session of Defense Minister Barak, with those who support the minister defending him. A bill that would raise the minimum wage was advanced, as was a bill that would allow policemen to search any citizen in entertainment areas without probable cause.

 

Non-Bills Summary

  • Kadima’s no-confidence motion titled ‘Netanyahu is leading Israel into diplomatic isolation’ was defeated 37-45 with one MK abstaining and 37 MKs not present for the vote.
  • Labor and Meretz’s joint no-confidence motion titled ‘The political situation in light of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech in Congress’ was defeated 34-47 with one MK abstaining and 38 MKs not present for the vote.
  • Ra’am-Ta’al’s no-confidence motion titled ‘Netanyahu government buries the peace process and increases the rift with Israel’s Arab population’ was defeated 30-49 with 41 MKs not present for the vote.
  • National Union’s no-confidence motion titled ‘The Prime Minister’s U.S. Congress speech’ was defeated 27-46 with four MKs abstaining and 43 MKs not present for the vote.
  • Hadash’s no-confidence motion titled ‘The Netanyahu government’s refusal of peace’ was defeated 30-49 with 41 MKs not present for the vote.
  • A special session was held in memory of former Minister and MK Ze’ev Boim (Kadima), who passed away at the age of 75 towards the end of the winter session. Speaker Rivlin, Prime Minister Netanyahu, Opposition Leader Livni and MK Mofaz (Kadima) eulogized him.
  • A government request to transfer certain authorities and responsibilities from Housing Minister Atias (Shas) to Religious Affairs Minister Margi (Shas) passed 14-3.
  • Homeland Security Minister Aharonovitch brought his office’s official responses to seven queries but did not read them out because the seven MKs were not present.

 

Bills Summary

Amendment to the Execution Bill

Constitution, Law and Justice Committee Chairman Rotem (Y.B.) explained that the amendment would divide the country’s registrars into those who can be given the power of judging in certain cases and those who cannot.

The bill passed its second reading 24-0.

The bill passed its third reading 27-0.

Amendment to the Courts Bill

Constitution, Law and Justice Committee Chairman Rotem explained that the amendment would allow court registrars the ability to hear virtually all civil cases of less than NIS 50,000 instead of judges, with a few exceptions.

The bill passed its second reading 18-0.

The bill passed its third reading 21-0.

Amendment to the Execution Bill

Constitution, Law and Justice Committee Chairman Rotem explained that the amendment would regulate the rules of hiring and firing registrars and determine their rights as employees.

The bill passed its second reading 20-0.

The bill passed its third reading 19-0.

Amendment to the Israel Defense Forces Army Radio Broadcasts Bill

Homefront Defense Minister Vilnai (Independence) explained that the amendment would extend the temporary provision that allows army radio to broadcast commercials and receive money for those commercials.

MK Whbee (Kadima) blasted Defense Minister Barak for firing the head of army radio for political reasons and accused him of acting like the Syrian dictatorship, shutting up those who speak about against the government.

MK Khenin (Hadash) also blasted Minister Barak for firing the director of army radio and for doing it through the press.  He slammed Barak for having the lowest attendance of all MKs in the Knesset’s plenary sessions and committee meetings. He suggested Barak is using army radio as his own station and routinely fires people who don’t fall in line with him.

MK Zeev (Shas) blasted the transformation of army radio from an educational station to a political station. He slammed Barak for the way he handled the firing of the head of his station and called on Barak to apologize.

MK Molla (Kadima) said that Barak messed up the Camp David talks in 2000, brought upon Israel the second intifada, split Labor and now has carried out a hostile takeover of army radio.

MK Yoel Hasson (Kadima) blasted Barak for firing the head of army radio and specifically for how Barak handled the situation.

MK Bar-On (Kadima) defended Barak and said he is allowed to do what he feels he needs to do.

MK Schneller (Kadima) recalled his time working with army radio and their fight for road safety. He supported the bill and said it was time for this bill to become law and to get rid of the temporary clause that needs to be extended every few years.

MK Wilf (Independence) defended Barak and mocked those who spoke against him. She suggested having an hour each day to discuss Barak, stating that he could use the publicity.

MK Gal-On (Meretz) blasted Barak from his time as General of the Army to Defense Minister. She added that Barak hasn’t submitted one bill to the Knesset the entire term and keeps sending Vilnai to do his dirty work.

MK Shai (Kadima) praised and supported the bill. He said that the commercials are like water to the radio station and the more the merrier.

MK Cabel (Labor) said that Barak makes all the MKs feel pathetic and worthless by refusing to attend Knesset committees and plenary sessions.

MK Yacimovich (Labor) recalled the five years she spent as a journalist on army radio. She stated that all of Israel’s media is owned by private interests accept for public broadcasting channels and army radio. She praised and supported the bill but admitted she didn’t feel it was enough.

Homefront Defense Minister Vilnai defended the bill and Barak. He asked the MKs why they didn’t defend army radio when he was in charge of it.

The bill passed its first reading 28-0 and was sent to the Finance Committee.

Temporary Order to the Minimum Wage Bill

Homefront Defense Minister Vilnai explained that the bill would raise the minimum wage immediately from NIS 3,835.18 per month to NIS 3,890.25. He said another raise would take place in July to NIS 4,100 and in October 2012 it would go up to NIS 4,300.

MK Barakeh (Hadash) said that raising the minimum wage is important but that this bill is not doing enough. He recalled a bill that he submitted a few weeks ago that would accomplish the same thing in a communist manner by raising the minimum wage by 60% and placing a ceiling on Israeli salaries. He blasted the unions for settling for socialist solutions and called their leaders traitors.

MK Khenin said the problem is that people who receive minimum wage are living under the poverty line. He said that the situation isn’t acceptable and the country needs to step in. He called for the government to support Barakeh’s bill.

MK Molla said this bill is too little too late. He slammed the indirect taxes that have killed poor people who died waiting for the minimum wage to be raised. He said that the middle class is almost gone.

MK Whbee called the low minimum wage a joke and asked what they are supposed to buy with the money they have left after rent and bills. He noted a third of the government workers make minimum wage. He said the problem isn’t with money but with the priority of where to spend the money.

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

Amendment to the Companies Bill

Homeland Security Minister Aharonovitch (Y.B.) explained that the amendment regulates government owned companies and how they are operated based on six main principles.

The bill passed its first reading 10-0 and was sent to the Law Committee.

Amendment to the Public Service Bill

Homeland Security Minister Aharonovitch explained that the amendment would institute various restrictions for law enforcement personnel on divulging information on government authorities or intelligence gathering after their retirement. He noted that the restrictions are for all defense establishment jobs and will be enforced for three years after retirement.

The bill passed its first reading 11-0 and was sent to the House Committee to decide which committee will discuss the bill further.

Amendment to the Powers to Protect Public Safety Bill

Homeland Security Minister Aharonovitch explained the amendment would broaden police officers’ authority to physically search individuals in entertainment and nightlife areas for weapons. He added this is part of his plan for violence prevention at Israeli nightclubs.

MK Khenin opposed the bill and attacked the broadening of police powers. He blasted the clause of the bill that would allow a policeman to search any citizen without any suspicion or reason. He warned this bill is an extreme measure that turns all Israeli citizens into suspects and has no place in a democratic country.

MK Molla said he supports the minister’s attempt to prevent violence in Israeli nightclubs but opposes the bill.  He warned that the bill goes too far and it degrades citizens who frequent sporting events and restaurants.  He expressed fear that this bill will allow the police to do things that they have no right to do.

Homeland Security Minister Aharonovitch responded that the current situation is out of control and sometimes extreme measures are necessary in order to maintain law and order.

The bill passed its first reading 11-2 and was sent to the House Committee to decide which committee will discuss the bill further.

Amendment to the Higher Education Council Bill

Homeland Security Minister Aharonovitch explained his amendment would allow the remuneration and reimbursement of expenses to members of the Higher Education Council and its various committees.

The bill passed its first reading 12-0 and was sent to the Education Committee.

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