The June 6 session lasted about five hours. It was the only work day of the week for the Knesset because of the Jewish holiday of Shavuot, which was celebrated from Tuesday to Wednesday night. I bet most of you wish you could have a five-hour work week like the one the MKs enjoyed that week. Eleven bills were discussed, and four of those bills became law after passing their third readings. Three bills were advanced after passing their first readings, and four bills were advanced after passing their preliminary readings. The highlight of the new laws was the raising of the minimum wage in two stages, the first of which will take place on July 1st. The highlight bill that was advanced was the extension of daylight savings time to 193 days per year.


Non-Bills Summary

  • Kadima’s no-confidence motion titled ‘The Prime Minister of Israel increases the gap, hurting the middle class sections of the population’ was defeated 35-45 with 40 MKs not present for the vote.
  • Labor and Meretz’s joint no-confidence motion titled ‘The government’s failure to reduce the gaps between rich and poor’ was defeated 35-45 with 40 MKs not present for the vote.
  • Hadash, Balad and Ra’am-Ta’al’s joint no-confidence motion titled ‘The basic commodities prices is yet another government failure in the social, economic and political sectors’ was defeated 28-42 with one MK abstaining and 49 MKs not present for the vote.
  • Speaker Rivlin gave a warm welcome to the U.S. Congressional delegation who were visiting the Knesset and watching the no-confidence motions.
  • House Committee Chairman Levin (Likud) reported on which disputed bills would go to which committees and subcommittees. The Knesset approved the report with a 24-0 vote.
  • A motion on the words of former Mossad chief Meir Dagan and the reactions to his words was discussed by three MKs and summarized by Minister Begin (Likud). The motion ended with a 3-3 vote. The tie went to the government position of defeating the motion.



Bills Summary

Temporary Order Amendment to the Minimum Wage Bill

Labor, Welfare and Health Committee Chairman Katz (Likud) explained that the amendment would raise the minimum wage. He reported that this July 1 the minimum wage would increase from NIS 3,890.18 per month to NIS 4,100, and on October 1, 2012, it will increase again to NIS 4,300.

MK Gilon (Meretz) noted that New Zealand was the first country to pass a minimum wage bill and was also the first country to give women the right to vote. He argued that it is more important to pass a bill that raises the minimum wage based on a percentage of the average wage and not a flat sum. He stated that NIS 4,300 is nothing when you have to pay NIS 3,000 for rent. He called for a return to socialism.

MK Barakeh (Hadash) said the bill is too little too late. He also spoke in support of percentages and not flat sums. He stated it is the government’s responsibility to protect the poor’s interest and this government hasn’t done that and aren’t doing it with this bill. He reported that 32.8% of government workers receive minimum wage, compared to 29.1% a few years ago. He warned the government to listen to the poor’s suffering or they will be replaced.

MK Swaid (Hadash) stated that the average price of an apartment is NIS 1.25 million and minimum wage workers make about NIS 50,000 annually, meaning that it takes 25 years to pay for a house if you make minimum wage. He explained that his objection would increase the annual minimum wage to NIS 60,000 annually so it would only take 20 years to pay for a house. He asked what is the point of joining the OECD if Israel doesn’t help its citizens. He blasted the capitalistic policies of the Netanyahu government that he said come at the expense of the poor.

MK Khenin (Hadash) stated that minimum wage is all about social justice, workers rights, workers equality and assisting minorities and the weak. He attacked those who opposed raising minimum wage and prolonging the poverty of the poor.

MK Agbaria (Hadash) said the government is adjusting the minimum wage and not raising it. He said the poor people are fighting for their survival and need more money. He slammed the government for raising prices of real estate, gas and basic food products. He charged there are more rich people and more poor people and the middle class is the one suffering. He warned that 20 families control most of the country’s money and that it is a dangerous thing. He noted that the government finds money for defense and infrastructure but not for raising the minimum wage.

Labor, Welfare and Health Committee Chairman Katz agreed with those who gave their objections. He said that he sympathizes with Gilon and the four members of the Hadash party, but suggested they vote in favor of the bill anyway and at least raise the minimum wage a little bit. Gilon agreed to remove his objection, but Hadash didn’t.

Hadash’s objections were defeated 14-32, 15-34, 15-34, 14-35 and 14-35.

The bill’s paragraphs passed their second readings 53-0, 53-0 and 52-0.

The bill passed its third reading 54-0.

Three Amendments to the Daylight Savings Time End Date Bill

MK Horowitz (Meretz) explained that daylight savings time is a great thing for the economy and it should last as long as possible. He announced his bill would extend daylight savings time.

MK Shamalov Berkovich (Kadima) spoke in the name of MK Tirosh (Kadima) and thanked the Knesset for adding her similar bill to the other bills. She explained that Tirosh’s son is getting married today so she couldn’t attend.

MK Itzik (Kadima) thanked MK Orlev (J.H.) for helping her to receive government support for this bill and the two similar bills that were presented before her.

Interior Minister Yishai (Shas) said he is open-minded and flexible when it comes to extending daylight savings time. He spoke about the committee he appointed, which came to the conclusion that the summer clock should be extended and mentioned that not everybody agreed with the conclusion. He quoted a Mina Tzemach poll that showed that 46% of Israelis want to keep the summer clock the way it is or shorten it. He confessed that he actually prefers a longer summer clock. He expressed government support for the three bills and said that daylight savings time will be 193 days each year.

MK Ben Ari (N.U.) objected to the bill. He stated that the summer has more hours of daylight than the winter. He said that daylight savings time hurts the children because you can’t wake them up when it is still dark. He said that it causes problems between parents and children and is not a natural thing. He stressed it is important to sleep during the night and be awake during the day, something that daylight savings time ruins.

MK Orlev (J.H.) responded that an extra hour to spend time in the evening with the kids is more important than the hour of sleep they lose in the morning. He called on everyone to support the bill.

The first bill passed its preliminary reading 20-1 and was sent to the Interior Committee.

The second bill passed its preliminary reading 21-0 and was sent to the Interior Committee.

The third bill passed its preliminary reading 21-0 and was sent to the Interior Committee.

Amendment to the Prisoner Rehabilitation Authority Bill

Interior and Environment Committee Chairman Cohen (Shas) explained the bill would list the acceptable disciplinary actions that the authority can use on its own employees.

The bill passed its second reading 9-0.

The bill passed its third reading 9-0.

Amendment to the Preventing the Hiring of Sex Offenders in Certain Institutions Bill

Women’s Rights Committee Chairwoman Hotovely (Likud) explained the bill that she sponsored will expand the types and number of institutions that are prevented from hiring sex offenders. She listed that among the new places are mental institutions, handicap facilities and any place where minors study or work. She added that the bill will also add the possession of pedophilic photographs and other media under the serious sex offenses that prevent those criminals from working in the various institutions under the bill. She concluded that the bill will take effect in six months to give time for the new institutions included in the bill to dismiss those who will no longer be allowed.

The bill passed its second reading 9-0.

The bill passed its third reading 9-0.

Amendment to the Value Added Tax Bill

Funds Committee Chairman Gafni (U.T.J.) explained that the bill will allow small and medium businesses (under annual turnover of NIS 15 million) to delay paying VAT to the State until they receive their VAT money from the consumer. He explained this will put an end to the situation where the small businesses pay the government VAT payments on a transaction before the business receives that payment.

The bill passed its second reading 12-0.

The bill passed its third reading 11-0.

MK Miller (Y.B.) thanked the Knesset for supporting the bill and for helping save thousands of small businesses.

Amendment to the Income Tax Ordinance Bill

Deputy Finance Minister Cohen (Shas) explained that the bill would allow a temporary extension for the tax year of 2010 of the exemption from the national financial reporting standards.

The bill passed its first reading 11-0 and was sent to the Funds Committee.

Two Amendments to the Bezeq and Broadcasts Communications Bill                         

Communications Minister Kahlon (Likud) explained that the amendment would limit the consumer’s payment to the communication companies during the cancellation of an agreement and in most cases eliminates the cancellation payment outright. He noted that a previous bill did the same for cell phone companies and now it will be expanded to all communication companies. He added that the bill prohibits charging a cancellation fee for equipment from the television, internet or cell phone companies.

MK Shamalov Berkovich (Kadima) praised Minister Kahlon as the most productive minister in the current government.  She said she subscribes to the slogan ‘the customer is always right’. She told the public not to lose faith in the political system because things do get done. She concluded by calling today a holiday celebration for the public.

MK Akunis (Likud) explained that his similar amendment will add the prohibition of cancellation fees to satellite and cable television companies.

Communications Minister Kahlon expressed government support for the second bill as well.

The first bill passed its preliminary reading 12-0 and was sent to the House Committee to determine which committee will discuss the bill further.

The second bill passed its first reading 12-0 and was sent to the House Committee to determine which committee will discuss the bill further.

Amendment to the Equal Opportunities Bill

Child’s Rights Committee Chairman Orlev explained that the amendment will give both parents the rights that are currently given to only one parent under the bill.

The bill passed its first reading 6-0 and was sent to the Women’s Rights Committee.