Last Monday’s session lasted about seven and a half hours. Eleven bills were discussed. Seven bills became law after passing their third readings, three were advanced after passing their first readings and, for the first time since July 12, 2010, a government bill was defeated. The Boycott Bill was the highlight of the day and most coalition MKs opted to leave after that vote, giving the opposition the numbers needed to bring down a bill exactly one year after they last accomplished that feat. Kadima and Labor promised a fifteen-hour filibuster on the Boycott Bill, but what occurred was a five-hour discussion from mostly the Arab and Meretz MKs. Kadima’s three speakers used less than thirty minutes altogether, Labor didn’t send one MK to speak on the bill and Meretz removed all but one of their objections when the voting started. All of the MKs present voted along party lines, although 35 MKs were not present for the vote. As always I offer you the only English source covering every speech given the night the Boycott Bill was passed into law, leaving it up to you to read all the information and make your own informed decision.
- Meretz and Labor’s no-confidence motion titled ‘The government’s failure in the political, social and economic sectors’ was defeated 5-39. The five other opposition parties chose not to bring up a no-confidence motion this week, which hurt the planned filibuster.
Amendments to Implementing the Economic Efficiency Program for 2009 and 2010 Bill
Labor, Welfare and Health Committee Chairman Katz (Likud) explained the two amendments would allow pension fund managers to manage more than one fund per customer. He explained there is no reason to send the same person to different banks if he is receiving more than one pension or if he has more than one fund. Speaker Rivlin had vetoed a previous vote because Katz mixed up the amendments order when he presented them.
The first bill passed its second reading 29-0.
The first bill passed its third reading 30-0.
The second bill passed its second reading 27-0.
The second bill passed its third reading 26-0.
Amendment to the Consumer Protection Bill
MK Itzik (Kadima) explained her amendment would require all products that offer warranties by law to have a warranty sticker on the packaging. She announced this would prohibit the practice of certain companies forcing the consumer to mail in a request for a warranty. She praised Finance Committee Chairman Shama (Likud) and concluded by slamming the finance ministry and Minister Steinitz.
The bill passed its first reading 26-0 and was sent to the Finance Committee.
Preventing Harm to the State of Israel through Boycotts Bill
MK Michaeli (Shas) explained the bill will protect Israel from boycotts against the State. He announced that the bill will allow individuals or businesses who are harmed by a public boycott to sue those boycotting for damages. He explained the bill covers business, cultural and academic boycotts. He reported that the bill will prohibit companies who boycott Israel from receiving government contracts and will take away any government benefits. He made it clear that the bill applies only to Israeli citizens and not to foreigners. He asked the Knesset to support the bill and to support the finance minister’s two objections to the bill.
MK Gilon (Meretz) said that he is against boycotts and he is against the labeling of everything except testing on animals. He called the bill the Settlements Business Protection Bill and expressed his opposition to the settlements. He slammed Foreign Minister Liberman for delegitimizing Israel. He slammed the right for legislating anti-democratic bills and charged that this bill is another one. He blasted the bill for not being balanced and rejected the claim that it is patriotic. He said a citizen has a democratic right to boycott whatever they want and warned this bill is a gateway bill to more anti-democratic bills.
MK Horowitz (Meretz) warned this bill embarrasses the Knesset and raises questions around the globe of whether Israel is still a democracy. He said these bills prevent him from defending Israel’s democracy to the world and he plans to limit his support for Israel in international arenas. He slammed the government in general, and Likud and Yisrael Beitenu in particular, for passing anti-democratic bills. He said this is a bad bill and quoted officials from the foreign and justice ministries who agree with him. He accused the government of raping those in the government who opposed the bill. He stated that just because the government has a majority to pass legislation it doesn’t mean the legislation is democratic. He explained his objections would have Senator McCarthy, Libyan dictator Gaddafi and the settlers in illegal outposts supervise and oversee the implementation of the bill. He said this bill won’t stop anyone from boycotting Israel but it will hurt Israel’s democracy. He called the bill a scare tactic meant to shut people up. He said there is no legitimacy for settlements in Israel or internationally and people have the right to boycott them. He quoted the legal advisors of the Knesset, the government and the Justice Committee who disagreed with the bill and expressed concerns that it borders on taking away citizens’ freedom of expression. He asked the government why they are sabotaging the democracy of Israel. He accused the Likud MKs of passing extremist legislation in order to be one of the 18 MKs of the current 27 to return in the next Knesset due to their unusual primary system.
MK Gal-On (Meretz) accused the Netanyahu government of waging a war against Israel’s democracy and said this bill is another step in their war. She said instead of the country being democratic it is full of settlers. She accused the government of killing Israel’s democracy and said the international community will no longer list Israel as a democracy. She said the coalition has no restraint and they use their automatic majority to pass bills that become stains on Israel’s law books. She said the bill is dangerous and anti-democratic. She called boycotting Israel and settlements legitimate. She accused the right of hurting the judicial system. She said this racist bill calls for the country to act against those who don’t agree with conservative views. She attacked Coalition Chairman Elkin (Likud) and Justice Committee Chairman Rotem (Y.B.), who sponsored the bill, and told them that they don’t live in the State of Israel because they live in the settlements. She attacked the settlements and proclaimed the 1967 borders as the official borders of Israel. She said that it is unacceptable that this bill is a selective boycott. She slammed the government for spending 9 billion dollars per year on Israelis over the green line. She accused Israel of illegally using Palestinian land and resources. She said there is a difference between Israel and the settlements and this bill will cause Israel to be boycotted throughout Europe. She said that she doesn’t buy any products from settlements and supports boycotts against settlements and their businesses. She said there is no law in the democratic world like this bill and rejected the principles of defensive democracy. She said she will not support this bill if turned into law but will keep boycotting the settlements and will call on others to do the same.
MK Molla (Kadima) blamed Foreign Minister Liberman for the bill and said it comes from his university of thought. He called the bill an attempt to turn Israel’s democracy into a circus. He accused Liberman, Rotem and MK Danon (Likud) of acting against the Ethiopian aliyah in the late 1970s, had they been in Knesset then. He slammed Rotem for supporting Rabbi Lior. He called this bill the 24th anti-democratic bill of the term and counting. He accused Defense Minister Barak and his Independence faction of trying to merge with the Likud. He warned Danon that this bill could act as a boomerang against him and the right. He called boycotts against the settlements legitimate. He asked Ministers Meridor, Eitan and Begin why they left the building and why they aren’t voting against the bill. He slammed the bill for allowing the finance minister to decide on what a boycott is and what fine is justified, stressing it bypasses the court system. He quoted the Haaretz newspaper that said this bill eliminates Israel’s democracy, turning it into a dictatorship and giving settlements legitimacy. He called on the MKs to protect democracy and to oppose the bill.
MK Barakeh (Hadash) called it a fascist bill that protects the settlements and is purely political. He said this bill is a message to the Palestinians that Israelis don’t want peace and a message to Israelis who oppose the settlements that they will be fined. He called the government hostile and undemocratic. He said the bill is illogical and encourages the theft of what is left of the Palestinian land and heritage. He said the bill is persecuting the minority. He expressed his support of boycotting the settlements and called on all of Israel to boycott the settlements. He slammed the 18 anti-democratic bills passed this term and called it apartheid. He called all settlements illegal and said this bill won’t change that. He called on Israel to release the 6,800 Palestinians in Israeli jails. He concluded by calling for the dismantling of all settlements and, in the meantime, the boycotting of the settlements.
MK Plesner (Kadima) said he doesn’t support boycotts but does support the citizens’ right to boycott, especially social media. He held up two newspapers, one saying the bill will be brought to a vote today and the other saying it won’t be, since Netanyahu decided at the last minute to let the bill go up for a vote. Deputy Speaker Whbee (Kadima) made him take down the newspapers, and Plesner left the podium before he was escorted off.
Finance Minister Steinitz (Likud) explained his objection will require the approval of both the financial and justice ministries for the law to be implemented. He responded to Molla that this bill won’t give him ultimate powers and there will be checks and balances. He slammed those who said this bill harms freedom of expression and said that because boycotting certain populations hurts them financially the government must step in. He said financial boycotting on ideological terms is not democratic and therefore he supports the bill.
MK Swaid (Hadash) said it is not coincidence that today Fox News’ Glenn Beck had a special Knesset committee session. He called Beck a racist who hates blacks and Muslims. He slammed most of Israel’s rabbis, claiming they are against Arabs and are even against Arabs renting in Jewish cities. He called the settlements an act of aggression. He said the bill is part of a flood of anti-democratic bills that hurt freedom of expression. He said that it is unacceptable that Israelis can boycott cottage cheese but not settlements. He agreed that America has anti-boycott laws that protect Israel, but said those laws don’t include fines. He rejected claims that settlement boycotts would hurt the Palestinian workforce that would be laid off if the settlements factories go under. He slammed Israel for the settlements and for hurting Palestinians. He warned this bill will force Israel to boycott its own citizens and called the bill a Senator McCarthy bill with a kippah.
MK Khenin (Hadash) said every line has been crossed with this bill and it will protect the settlements at the expense of freedom of expression. He asked why Israelis can boycott non-kosher stores but not settler stores. He said this bill is not democratic and slammed the religious conservatives for sending the Knesset into a black period. He warned this bill will silence the Israeli Rosa Parks and Martin Luther Kings. He equated American racism and slavery to Israeli settlements. He rejected the sanctions in the bill, calling them anti-democratic. He called the settlements illegal and said they are justifiably boycotted throughout the world. He said the extreme right wants to drown Israel. He concluded by blasting the bill as anti-democratic and told Israelis not to be silenced and to keep boycotting settlements and their products.
MK Tibi (R.T.) said the bill is anti-democratic and the Supreme Court will overturn it. He equated the religious boycott of non-kosher restaurants to the boycotting of settlement products. He said that Israel and the Jews stole the land from the Arabs. He charged that all of Ma’aleh Adumim is on private Palestinian land. He said that in 1947 Arabs owned 87% of Israel and today they only own 3% of the land. He slammed Israelis for not shopping in Arab villages. He called boycotting settlements legitimate non-violent resistance. He asked what legitimate tools Arabs have to oppose the settlements. He praised Pink Floyd for opposing this bill. He suggested MK Elkin was bullied in school and was physically assaulted and now needs to fight back. He called the bill blacker than black and argued with other conservative MKs in the room saying they all have a specialty in different types of anti-democratic bills. He said that Arabs deserve more rights than Jews do. He said a democracy is measured by how the majority treats the minority. MK Shama (Likud) interrupted and said Israel needs to use defensive democracy against Tibi. Tibi fired back that without the Arabs the right would persecute MK Molla and the Ethiopians. He called the right racist against everyone but themselves. He called the 18th Knesset a black stain and an embarrassment to Israeli democracy. He said that the Arabs will win and remove all the settlements. Deputy Speaker Whbee removed MK Orbach (U.T.J.) from the plenum for heckling Tibi. Tibi concluded by calling for the evacuation of all settlements.
MK Agbaria (Hadash) said this anti-democratic bill will mark the beginning of the end of Israel’s democracy. He slammed the NIS 50,000 fine for boycotting Israeli settlements. He said Israel is boycotting Israelis who choose to identify themselves with Arabs. He warned Israelis will leave the country if this bill is passed.
MK Sarsur (R.T.) quoted a piece of the Koran that discusses the destruction of the Jewish empire and warned the Jews of today that Israel will collapse just as their empire fell centuries ago. He called this bill another symptom of Israel’s illness of fascism and bullying. He said Israel uses too much power, racism and terrorism and is acting suicidal, denying the Palestinian capital of Jerusalem. He praised the United States for supporting Lebanon’s position on the Israeli-Lebanon border issue and read out editorials from Haaretz on the subject. He called on Israel to listen to their friends in the U.S. and allow Lebanon to utilize their natural gas deposits. He concluded by warning that Israel is not immune to disappearing overnight, as other countries in the Middle East have done.
MK Ganaim (R.T.) slammed the racist and anti-democratic bills that Netanyahu supports and said Arabs don’t live in a democracy in Israel. He blasted the principle of defensive democracy. He said settlers and their Rabbis do not believe in democracy and are receiving a present from the government. He said the country of Israel lost to the country of the settlers. He said that Israelis look at security as Zeus and bow down to it. He said it is unacceptable that Israelis want to eat humus in Arab villages but not invite Arabs into Jewish cities. He said that the Arabs have been here for thousands of years, before Jews ever stepped foot in Palestine. He said that Israel’s little piece of democracy is slowly dwindling away, while the Arab countries are moving towards democracy.
MK Abesadze (Kadima) warned that England, France and Belgium supported Lebanon’s candidacy to the U.N. Security Council, which was defeated by just three votes. She said that Israel is losing their friends and this bill isn’t going to help. She slammed the bill as a return to the days of Stalin, the K.G.B. and concentration camps. She warned this bill is a reminder of the middle ages that forbids freedom of expression. She charged that even Netanyahu is afraid of the right, since this bill seeks to silence those who don’t agree with them. She said this isn’t a normal bill and deserves a place with Gaddafi and Libya. She said this is the worst bill the Knesset has ever seen.
MK Eldad (N.U.) said the balance between freedom of expression and freedom to work is a sensitive one. He said those who oppose the bill place the freedom to say whatever they want over the freedom to work and feed ones family, and those people don’t understand the point of democracy. He said hurting a person’s pocket is anti-democratic. He noted it was interesting that none of the speakers mentioned they would support the bill if the settlements weren’t included. He said that boycotting Ma’aleh Adumim is the same as boycotting Tel Aviv. He asked what the difference is between a person who lives in Ma’aleh Adumim and works in Tel Aviv and a person who lives in Tel Aviv and works in Ma’aleh Adumim. He asked if those opposed to the bill would wish to boycott both products.
MK Ben Ari (N.U.) said he has heard a lot about tolerance, racism and anti-democratic bills over the last few hours. He read a story of a rabbi in Russia during the Stalin years who went through something similar to what Rabbi Lior went through earlier in the month. He said that Israel has been going through a heavenly redemption over the last century as Jews have started to return to their historic homeland. He recalled that the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) was formed in 1964, three years before the six day war, with the intention of liberating Jaffa, Lod, Acre, Ramla, etc. He noted that 82 kibbutzim were built on land that Arabs inhabited before 1948 but his settlement was built on empty land that was never owned by Arabs. He asked who the fascist is and who the liberal is. He noted MK Sarsur spoke of 1948 and not 1967, as well as the destruction of the State of Israel, and no one had a problem with that and it won’t even get press coverage. He said the lie is celebrating that Jews are living in Arab houses in Jerusalem’s exclusive neighborhood of Baka and saying it is the settlers who are the obstacles to peace. He slammed the leftists for trading the Arab land they are occupying for the empty hilltops that Jews built settlements on. He warned the left that after the Arabs destroy the settlements they will destroy Yavne and Acre. He slammed MK Ganaim, who said he was in Israel for thousands of years, and a different Arab MK, who claimed to be a Yevusi (Jebusite). He told Glenn Beck and Mike Huckabee that the enemies of Israel will be defeated by the hand of god. He said this was not a promise but a prophecy.
MK Zoabi (Balad) blasted the bill and said it is illegal because it ignores international law that forbids settlements. She said settlements are not legitimate and she is against the bill and supports the boycotting of settlements. She slammed the settlements and said the bill will hurt Israel more than it hurts the Arabs because it will corrupt the Israelis.
MK Zahalka (Balad) quoted Haaretz, which said that if this bill passes Israel will become an anti-democratic dictatorship. He called on the public to boycott the settlers and their products and to ignore the bill if it is passed into law. He stated that the boycott should be not only on the settlements but also on the entire Israeli government. He called settlements robbery of Palestinian land. He said freedom of expression is the most important aspect of democracy and this bill will prohibit that freedom.
MK Elkin (Likud) noted that France, Germany, the U.S. and most democratic countries have this bill as law to defend their own economies. He said that not adding Judea and Samaria to the bill would discriminate against 400,000 people based on their address. He said the government of Israel sent the settlers to the settlements and the government has a responsibility to protect them. He said the current situation of Israelis boycotting Israelis is absurd and this bill will take away their government benefits. He noted in the United States version of the bill the punishment is four years in jail and the Israeli version has simply a fine with no jail time. He said this bill is a Zionistic bill that has many Kadima co-sponsors and called on them to support it.
MK Michaeli (Shas) summarized the discussion by expressing government support for the bill and calling on the Knesset to approve it. He said even democracy has its limits and one of those limits will be set today. He stressed the bill isn’t an automatic bill- the courts must find a person guilty of the new law. He also stressed that it isn’t meant to silence people but to prevent boycotts.
The opposition’s objections were defeated 38-46, 34-47, 38-47, 36-47, 37-43, 38-46, 37-46, 38-45, 37-46, 37-47, 38-47, 38-47, 36-44, 36-47 and 31-42. Most of Kadima’s and Meretz’s objections were removed.
Finance Minister Steinitz’s two objections were accepted 45-32 and 46-33.
The bills paragraphs passed their second readings 47-38, 47-38, 46-38, 45-38, 47-38 and 47-38.
The bill passed its third reading, including the two objections, 47-38 with 3 MKs present who didn’t vote, including Speaker Rivlin.
MK Wilf (Independence) explained her party was not present for the vote because they believe in the principle of the bill but felt it went too far.
MK Michaeli (Shas) thanked the Knesset for approving the bill in the name of Chairman Rotem and MK Elkin.
Amendment to the Setting Time Bill
Interior Minister Yishai (Shas) explained the bill would extend daylight savings time.
MK Azoulay (Shas) said he doesn’t believe that extending daylight savings time is a good thing. He noted that five years ago the entire Knesset agreed on setting the time and now suddenly the secular have changed their minds.
The bill passed its first reading 22-5 and was sent to the Interior Committee.
Amendment to the Civil Service Bill
Deputy Finance Minister Cohen (Shas) explained the amendment would allow certain civil service workers in the land authority to receive early retirement with full pension based on a signed agreement between their union and the government.
The bill was defeated 15-19.
Deputy Speaker Vaknin (Shas) and Deputy Minister Cohen were shocked, and MK Tibi mocked them.
Amendment to the National Health Insurance Bill
Labor, Welfare and Health Committee Chairman Katz explained the amendment would change the system so if an insured patient needs to make a copayment for a private doctor they will be covered for all subsequent visits within the next three months and will eliminate the previous quarter system. He noted the bill will also require the clinics to give patients their money back on the day the charge is approved rather than making them wait until the end of the month.
The bill passed its second reading 15-0.
The bill passed its third reading 16-0.
MK Cabel (Labor) thanked the Knesset for approving the bill.
Amendment to the Contractors Employees Bill
Labor, Welfare and Health Committee Chairman Katz explained the amendment will prohibit contactors who are not licensed to find employment for workers. He said that the fine for violating this bill is NIS 14,400. He noted there are exceptions to the bill, such as cleaning women in apartment buildings. He thanked his assistants for their work and the Knesset for supporting the bill.
The bill passed its second reading 15-0.
The bill passed its third reading 15-0.
Amendment to the Joint Investment Trust Bill
Funds Committee Chairman Gafni (U.T.J.) explained the amendment would determine under which circumstances joint investment trusts are to be transparent to the public and when the trusts should be sealed. He thanked the MKs who sponsored the bill and the MKs in the room for supporting it.
The bill passed its second reading 12-0.
The bill passed its third reading 11-0.
Amendment to the Student Rights Bill
Education, Culture and Sports Committee Chairman Miller (Y.B.) explained the amendment would prohibit discrimination against students based on their place of birth. He thanked his assistants and the Knesset for supporting the bill.
The bill passed its second reading 11-0.
The bill passed its third reading 12-0.
Amendment to the Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Rabin Commemorating Centers Bill
Education, Culture and Sports Committee Chairman Miller explained the amendment will include the Begin and Rabin museums as part of the respective commemorating centers. He explained the bill will also enable committee members of the centers to serve for three terms, as opposed to the one term restriction in place today.
The bill passed its second reading 11-0.
The bill passed its third reading 11-0.
Amendment to the Motor Vehicle Insurance Ordinance Bill
MK Kirshenbaum (Y.B.) explained the amendment would reduce motorcycle insurance rates.
The bill passed its first reading 10-0 and was sent to the Finance Committee.