The first session of June lasted about six hours. Five bills were discussed. Two bills were advance after passing in their preliminary readings, two were defeated and one bill was pulled to avoid defeat. The two bills that were advanced will require warranty stickers on items that would ultimately require repair and give soldiers who complete their mandatory service an academic aid package for learning in Jerusalem. The latter bill was a fitting one to celebrate Jerusalem Day.

 

Non-Bills Summary

  • National Infrastructure Minister Landau (Y.B.), Interior Minister Yishai (Shas), Homeland Security Minister Aharonovitch (Y.B.) and Education Minister Sa’ar (Likud) answered urgent queries.
  • Speaker Rivlin, Prime Minister Netanyahu and Opposition Leader Livni gave speeches marking Jerusalem Day.
  • Five motions were discussed on the hot topics of the day. Two were not voted on. The other three were sent for further discussion in the Knesset committees by votes of 16-0, 5-1 and 10-0.

 

Bills Summary

Amendment to the Consumer Protection Bill

MK Itzik (Kadima) explained that her amendment would require a warranty responsibility sticker on all items that require repair. She noted that many people lose the warranty slip that they are supposed to mail in. As a result the companies don’t honor the warranties and the consumer is required to pay for any repairs even if it is within the warranty period. She hoped that the sticker on the product will help people not to lose their warranties and protect the consumers.

The government did not send a representative to express their opinion.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 30-0 and was sent to the House Committee to decide which committee should discuss the bill.

Amendment to the Veterans Absorption Bill

MK Orlev (J.H.) explained that his amendment would include Jerusalem in the aid package that veterans receive after finishing their mandatory military service. He explained the aid package would include discounts in enrollment to all recognized Jerusalem academic institutions. He noted that a similar bill passed last year does the same thing for Judea, Samaria, the Galil, the Negev and the Golan. He noted that his bill’s aid package does not include housing due to the 12% increase in Jerusalem real estate prices over the last year. He concluded by wishing the soldiers in the gallery a happy Jerusalem Day.

Deputy Minister Gamliel (Likud) wished everyone a happy Jerusalem Day and quoted passages from the bible. She praised the bill and expressed government support. She hoped that this bill will give a shot in the arm to Jerusalem’s academia, assist in decreasing the emigration of Jerusalem’s secular population and community and raise the number of academics in the city, which she said would ultimately reduce the number living below the poverty level. She stated the budget for the bill will be NIS 25 million. She praised Jerusalem Mayor Barkat for breaking the Guinness record for biggest flag. She incorrectly stated that Students Day was last week when, in fact, Students Day is the same day as Jerusalem Day.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 50-0 and was sent to the Labor Committee.

Social Housing in Central Israel Bill

MK Solodkin (Kadima) explained that her amendment would require the country to purchase 5% of every housing project in the center of the country. The bill requires the country to designate that 5% for public housing. She regretted that co-sponsor MK Regev (Likud) was bullied into not showing up for the vote. She expressed hope that this would shorten the list of the tens of thousands of families who are on the waiting list for public housing. She blasted former Prime Minister Barak and the Labor-Meretz government of 1999, which ended the public housing project that was only recently revived by selling off most of the public houses the country owned.

Housing and Construction Minister Atias (Shas) expressed government opposition to the bill on the grounds that the bill goes too far. He noted that in order to qualify for public housing the combined income of the household must be below NIS 5,400 per month. He stated that about 2,000 families are in line for public housing and not the 10,000 that Solodkin spoke about. He stressed that he spent NIS 400 million in 2010 on public housing and that he has NIS 150 million to spend on purchasing public housing units in 2011 and 2012. He added that he is creating 5,000 rooms in hostels to serve as temporary housing until the public housing units are ready. He mentioned that he provides NIS 1.3 billion to subsidize part of the rent for over 137,000 families and that each family receives between NIS 660 and NIS 2,200 a month.

MK Solodkin slammed Atias and said that the 2,000 in line are Israelis. She said 60,000 immigrants are waiting in line according to the aliyah ministry.

The bill was defeated 23-39.

Amendment to the Family Courts Bill

MK Horowitz (Meretz) explained that his amendment would require the family courts to treat same sex families the same as other families and to hear all their cases. He said that the current situation is that sometimes you fall on a judge who hears the case and sometimes the judge throws it out. He demanded the courts deal with gay couples’ cases regarding inheritance, alimony and violence within their family unit. He asked the Knesset recognize all gay marriages, including his own. He confessed that the courts hear 90% of the cases but asked that all cases be heard, including those in which one of the partners denies his homosexuality or suddenly becomes straight in order to get out of the responsibility towards his partner.

Minister Begin noted that 18 years ago there was no such thing as a family court and that it is very much still a work in progress. He said that 90% isn’t bad and that the government is against forcing a person to remain gay if he decides that he wants to change his sexual preference. He stated that one day it might be 100% of the cases but this won’t be the government to do that.

MK Horowitz thanked Begin for not avoiding the answer and expressed hope that one day this bill will pass in the Knesset. He said that he was encouraged by Begin not saying anything negative. He stated that he is proudly openly gay and that he is proud to represent his community, which makes up 15% of the population if you include gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transsexuals. He promised that his community will fight inside the Knesset and outside of it and the community will be heard by everyone very soon.

The bill was defeated 12-34.

Jubilee Grant for Teachers of Immigrants Bill

MK Miller (Y.B.) explained that his amendment would give immigrant teachers the tenure (salary 13) that Israeli teachers receive after 25 years of service regardless of whether those years were in Israel or outside of it. He noted there are fewer than 5,000 teachers who would be added to the salary 13 teachers, a total cost of less than NIS 25 million. He explained that in the current situation a computer teacher with 15 years of experience immigrates to the country and chooses hi-tech because he doesn’t want to start from scratch in the education system and in hi-tech he will receive more money. He revealed that he was informed by the government that they would oppose this bill if brought for a vote.  He reached a deal with them that he would pull the bill and negotiate with the government for two weeks about changing parts of it.

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