Last Monday’s session lasted about four hours. Two bills were discussed. Two bills became law after passing their third readings and one was advanced after passing its first reading. The new laws temporary stop the streaming of public workers’ funds into a government fund for small businesses and give adoptive parents the same right as birth parents under law. The bill advanced expands the repo agency’s authority. Four MKs took the opportunity to criticize the government for the arrest of Rabbi Dov Lior during the repo bill discussion. One of the no-confidence motions was defeated by a narrow ten-vote margin with 50 MKs not present for the vote.

Non-Bills Summary

  • Kadima’s no-confidence motion titled ‘The Netanyahu government’s failure in solving the housing shortage for the citizens of Israel and especially for young couples’ was defeated 30-40 with 50 MKs not present.
  • Labor and Meretz’s joint no-confidence motion titled ‘The government’s failure in the political, social and economic sectors’ was defeated 27-43 with 50 MKs not present.
  • Hadash, Ra’am-Ta’al and Balad’s joint no-confidence motion titled ‘The government’s policy of refusing to reach a peace agreement’ was defeated 17-45 with 58 MKs not present.
  • State Control Committee Chairman Hasson (Kadima) reported the decision of his committee regarding the provision of water and sewage by private corporations, which had been criticized by the State Comptroller. The report was accepted by a 20-0 vote.
  • MK Whbee (Kadima) reported on the Knesset delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean (PAM) meeting that took place in Croatia last month.
  • MK Levi-Abekasis (Y.B.) reported the decision of the Labor, Welfare and Health committee concerning the division of the Economic Efficiency Bill into multiple legislative amendments to implement the economic program for 2009 and 2010. The split was approved by a 17-0 vote.
  • Minister Begin announced the transfer of certain authorities from the Agriculture Minister to the Prime Minister’s office.


Bills Summary

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

Funds Chairman Gafni (U.T.J.) said the bill is co-sponsored by all of the Funds Committee members. He explained that 50% of government workers’ vacation day wages in 2009 and 2010 went into an assistance fund for small businesses. He said the fund currently totals NIS 600 million. He further explained that the money is in the state treasury and that no small business was able to receive funds because of bureaucratic reasons. He attacked the government for lying to the people and for stealing from its own workers. He said that his bill will put an end to this madness and stop the streaming of government workers’ vacation wages into the fund. He went on a rant, slamming the government for hiding sneaky laws in the current Arrangements Bill that make the wages fund bill he is repealing look good. He thanked the government for agreeing to return to the workers their 2010 wages but blasted the government for not agreeing to give back the 2009 wages. He warned his bill is a temporary order and the MKs will have to approve the bill again so that in 2013 the government workers won’t have to give their money to a fund that doesn’t really exist. Speaker Rivlin cut Gafni’s speech short, calling on him to respect the coalition guidelines and take his seat.

The bill passed it second reading 34-1 with one MK abstaining.

The bill passed its third reading 31-0.

Amendment to the Employment of Women Bill

MK Levi-Abekasis (Y.B.) explained that the bill she is presenting is a combination of three separate bills sponsored by MK Schneller, MK Orlev and the government that were merged into one bill. She announced the bill would give adoptive parents the same rights as birth parents, including maternity leave; a one-hour break every day during the four months following maternity leave, called a ‘nursing hour’; prohibition on being fired; receipt of birth welfare payments; and allowing the father to take maternity leave instead of the mother. She noted that for overseas adoption each parent is entitled to a 45-day leave from work with protection from being fired.

MK Schneller (Kadima) explained his part of the bill applies the new laws to women who go through fertility treatments or adopt abroad and gives men rights equal to women in these cases. He said he came up with the idea for the bill while talking with students from Haifa University. He also thanked the dozen couples he spoke with who helped him figure out what to add and what to exclude from the bill.

The bill passed its second reading 19-0.

The bill passed its third reading 23-0.

MK Orlev (J.H.) thanked the Knesset for passing his bill and MK Levi-Abekasis for co-sponsoring with him several bills that help children.

Amendment to the Execution Bill

Minister Begin (Likud) explained the amendment will reform the repo system in Israel in order to speed up the timetable for collections and freezing of assets. He stated the bill will also expand the authority of repo agents, adding, among other things, the ability to force the accused to attend mandatory court appearances.

MK Ben Ari (N.U.) said there is no need for repo agents when there is Justice Minister Neeman’s agent, Shai Nitzan, who has 80-year-old rabbis abducted from their cars and prohibits them from speaking to their lawyers. He warned the government not to get into religion or religious law. He attacked the government for arresting rabbis and started crying from the podium as he asked if religious persecution has reached Israel’s gates. He pulled himself together and slowly walked out of the room in tears.

MK Katzeleh (N.U.) slammed the government for not going into Issawiya, an Arab town that is a five minute drive from the Knesset. He said the poor man who got lost on his way to Ma’aleh Adumim and ended up in Issawiya was attacked by dozens of Arabs just for being Jewish. He said the man was almost lynched but was taken to a hospital by one of the villagers who broke up the fight. He asked why the government doesn’t arrest those responsible for the assault and instead chooses to arrest a rabbi who wrote an approval letter for a book. He told MKs Hotovely and Elkin (Likud) that their Prime Minister Netanyahu is degrading and humiliating the State of Israel.  He asked them how someone can shout out “Kill – Yehud (Jew)” five minutes from the Knesset and the government does nothing. He slammed the government for behaving like they live in the days of Lenin and Stalin, persecuting rabbis and letting anti-semites walk.  He told Netanyahu he should be ashamed of himself and told Neeman he should take off his kippah.

MK Eichler (U.T.J.) asked why the government arrested a holocaust survivor 80-year-old Rabbi for writing an approval for a book instead of going after the hoodlums in Issawiya. He slammed the government for supporting freedom of speech for academics and entertainers but suppressing it for rabbis. He slammed the government for attacking religious Jews in every aspect of their lives, from telling them what to do with their buses to telling their rabbis to discuss only the acceptable parts of Torah (the Bible) in public. He called on the public of Israel to protest the arrest of Rabbi Dov Lior because this is the first step of things to come. He said we are living in the days of Stalin if rabbis are being arrested in black cars and being brought to jail for discussing Jewish laws. He said whoever is responsible for Rabbi Lior’s arrest must be punished.

MK Zeev (Shas) said he knows Rabbi Shapira, who wrote the ‘King’s Torah’ book for which Rabbi Lior wrote a letter of approval for which he was subsequently arrested. He said Shapira gave him the book and that after reading it, it is clear that there is no racism in the book and it does not call for killing non-Jews. He slammed the police and the Justice Ministry for creating a crazy mess and for lying to the public who haven’t read the book. He called on the public to read the book and see the truth for themselves. He called this a blood libel against rabbis.

The bill passed its first reading 16-2 and was sent to the Justice Committee.