Last Monday’s session lasted about four hours. Eight bills were discussed. Six bills were advanced after passing their first readings, one was advanced after passing its preliminary reading and one bill became law after passing its third reading. Among the bills advanced is one of the largest bills in Israel’s history covering all of Israeli civil law, a bill on releasing prisoners for medical reasons and a bill that will stop the depositing of half of public workers’ vacation pay into a fund for assisting small businesses. MK Eldad opposed two bills; all of the other bills were passed unanimously. Three no-confidence motions on the state of the economy were defeated.

                                                          

Non-Bills Summary

  • Kadima’s no-confidence motion titled ‘The Netanyahu government’s failure in the economic sphere, causing price hikes in all sectors of the economy’ was defeated 26-46 with 48 MKs not present.
  • Labor and Meretz’s joint no-confidence motion titled ‘The wave of price increases, which speaks to the economy’s state’ was defeated 25-45 with 50 MKs not present.
  • Hadash, Ra’am-Ta’al and Balad’s joint no-confidence motion titled ‘The wave of price increases in the economy, specifically the rise of dairy products and the intention to raise the prices of public transportation’ was defeated 20-45 with one MK abstaining and 54 MKs not present.

 

Bills Summary

Amendment to the Disciplinary Law in the Israeli Police and Prison Service Bill

Interior and Environment Committee Chairman Cohen (Shas) explained the amendment would make four cosmetic changes to the disciplinary process for policemen and prison guards. He said that these four changes have already been implemented and should be protected within law.

The bill passed its second reading 33-0.

The bill passed its third reading 36-0.

 Amendment to the Income Tax Ordinance Bill

Deputy Finance Minister Cohen (Shas) explained the amendment would raise the tax on publicly traded companies.

MK Ben Ari (N.U.) told the public not to fear September, the month the Palestinians will bring their statehood bid to the United Nations, nor the so-called September experts, who have resorted to scare tactics because they openly endorse the creation of a Palestinian state.

The bill passed its first reading 22-0 and was sent to the Funds Committee.

Amendment to the Economic Efficiency Implementing the Economic Program for 2009 and 2010 Bill

Deputy Finance Minister Cohen explained the amendment would extend certain programs for an additional six months so they would now expire at the end of 2011.

MK Ben Ari stated that the Jewish organization JOINT is giving grants to the illegal immigrants to return to Sudan and start a business there. He warned this would encourage more illegal immigration.

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

Offering Assistance Fund to Companies in Distress Bill

Funds Committee Chairman Gafni (U.T.J.) explained his bill would stop the current situation where public workers are only paid for half of their vacation days while the money for the other half is collected in a fund to assist small businesses. He noted that no one has benefited from that fund except the finance ministry and, therefore, it should be abolished. He said he hoped to bring the second part of the bill in which the workers are returned their money when the coalition falls apart.

Deputy Finance Minister Cohen noted that the fund had been collecting this money since 2009 and the government agrees to stop collecting money for the fund.

Temporary Order Repealing a Partial Payment of Vacation Pay in the Civil Service in 2010 Bill

Deputy Finance Minister Cohen explained the government bill is very similar to Gafni’s bill and that the two bills will be merged together for discussion in committee. He thanked the public workers for the NIS 600 million the government collected for the fund while it was operational.

MK Adatto (Kadima) criticized the fact that the fund was taken from the public sector and not from the private sector. She wondered why the workers union agreed to such an arrangement where NIS 600 million was taken and no one has any idea where the money went.

MK Molla (Kadima) accused the government of zigzagging on yet another bill which they created and are now trying to abolish. He stated that not one company received money from the fund and that the finance ministry enjoyed it and no one has any idea where the money went.

MK Zeev (Shas) asked Molla why every time he gets up to the podium he is screaming and attacking. He suggested that Molla thank the government when they recognize a mistake and try to fix it. He rejected the accusations that the government purposely stole money from its workers and said it was a simple honest mistake and a misunderstanding among a few government ministries. He suggested using the NIS 600 million to build more homes for the poor.

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

The second bill passed its first reading 22-0 and was sent to the Funds Committee.

Civil Law Bill

Justice Minister Neeman explained that this bill has been in the works since the formation of the State in the late 1940s. He said this bill will bring all of the civil laws under one roof and will replace all existing laws from the Ottoman Empire and the British Mandate. He said most of the work on this bill was done between 1968 and 1986 by Neeman’s former Hebrew University professor. He noted the bill contains over a thousand laws which range from inheritance to adoption to contracts. He stated this bill creates the infrastructure to provide an answer in every case that deals with money. He thanked the dozens of former judges who worked on this bill over the last 60 years. He said the law was written in the spirit of the past leaders of Jewish law: the Rambam, Baal Haturim and Rabbi Yosef Caro. He concluded that this bill is another building block in Israeli law independence from previous systems.

MK Eldad (N.U.) said that it is impossible for the 120 MKs to vote on a bill that weighs more than they do when they only had a few hours to read it. He stated he has to vote against this bill because he has no idea what all of the thousand laws are that he is voting on. He mentioned that he was worried that this bill had many hidden laws that might be problematic and stressed he had to vote against it in its first reading.

MK Zeev confessed that he is voting on something he has no clue about but coalition discipline requires that of him. He praised the connection of the Jewish law to this new Israeli bill, which, he was told, was quite significant in many of the new laws.

MK Wilf (Independence) called on the public to read the bill and to find the problematic aspects of it and to report it to their MKs.

Constitution, Law and Justice Committee Chairman Rotem (Y.B.) said this is perhaps the most important bill to hit the Knesset floor this term. He slammed Neeman for expecting his committee to wrap up this bill quickly when it took 60 years for the Justice Ministry to write it. He stressed his committee is not equipped to deal with preparing this bill for the next reading without years of work. He announced that every Sunday and Thursday until the end of the tern his committee will discuss this bill and hopefully it will be passed at some point this decade.

MK Michaeli (Shas) asked Neeman why he didn’t give the MKs more time to read the bill. He told Rotem that he doesn’t plan on attending committee meetings every Sunday and Thursday and that he thinks Rotem will be sitting alone for all of those meetings. He called on Rotem to have a Jewish law expert there for every session to give his opinion on every Israeli law proposal that doesn’t follow Jewish law.

Minister Neeman said he agreed with the principle behind what the five speakers brought up. He asked the Knesset to pass the bill in its first reading and to let the Law Committee do its work.

The bill passed its first reading 11-1 and was sent to the Law Committee.

Amendment to the Parole from Prison Bill

Justice Minister Neeman explained the amendment would expand the authority of the parole board that authorizes a prisoner release for medical reasons. He said that prisoners that are in the hospital awaiting their death should no longer be designated as prisoners since they will never return to prison and the country wastes resources on them, such as security detail.

MK Eldad warned Neeman is setting a new standard for releasing prisoners that the public no longer has an interest in keeping. He stressed that is a dangerous precedent that will lead to public interest releasing prisoners for a wide range of reasons. He slammed the bill that also allows security prisoners and terrorists to be released through this new law.

MK Zeev supported the bill and said for humanitarian reasons dying people should be released. He praised Neeman and attacked Eldad. He suggested reinstating the prison warden as a member of the parole board since he knows the prisoners best. He wondered why wardens have been demoted to observers.

The bill passed its first reading 7-1 and was sent to the Justice Committee.

Amendment to the National Parks, Nature Reserves, National Sites and Memorial Sites Bill

Environment Minister Erdan (Likud) explained the bill would increase the term limit, currently one term of four years, on the National Parks, Nature Reserves, National Sites and Memorial Sites Council. He said the bill will allow members of the council to be reelected twice and serve three terms.

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

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