Last Wednesday’s session lasted about five and a half hours. Ten bills were discussed. Five bills were advanced after passing their preliminary readings, two were pulled to avoid defeat and three were defeated. The bills advanced involve the assets of holocaust victims, investment advisors, children orphaned as a result of a terrorist attack, presenting political party reports and consumer protection. The unusually short Wednesday session was the result of Deputy Speaker Whbee deliberately skipping the last few items on the agenda.

Non-Bills Summary

  • Interior Minister Yishai (Shas), Deputy Health Minister Litzman (U.T.J.) and Labor and Welfare Minister Kahlon (Likud) answered urgent queries at the beginning of the session.
  • Six motions were discussed, passed and sent for further discussion in committee by the votes 9-0, 8-0, 9-0, 13-0, 6-3 and 7-0.
  • Deputy Speaker Whbee (Kadima) chose to skip a few motions and five MKs’ queries because the MKs were not present in the room. MK Ben Ari (N.U.), who missed his name call by less than 30 seconds, asked to have Justice Minister Neeman answer his query or at least give him the written answer. Whbee refused and closed the session unusually early for a Wednesday. Several MKs were upset about the speed at which Whbee went through the last items on the agenda without much warning. MKs Shai (Kadima) and Adatto (Kadima) complained that their motions were passed over.

 

Bills Summary

Amendment to the Assets of Holocaust Victims Bill

MK Orlev (J.H.) explained his amendment will require that funds allocated to the families of Holocaust victims be put into an endowment or restitution for Holocaust remembrance purposes if the family has not already used the money. He explained the bill will also use all assets that were not claimed by an heir for the same purposes, including giving money to private institutions such as Yad Vashem.

Justice Minister Neeman expressed government support for the bill.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 18-0 and was sent to the Justice Committee.

Amendment to the Regulation of Investment Counseling, Investment Marketing and Portfolio Management Bill

MK Amnon Cohen (Shas) explained his amendment would regulate the rules for investment advisors and prohibit conflicts of interest.

Deputy Finance Minister Cohen (Shas) expressed government support for the bill.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 20-0 and was sent to the Funds Committee.

Amendment to the Hostility Victims Compensation Bill

MK Orlev explained his amendment would grant orphans their parents’ full pensions in the event that both parents are killed in a terrorist attack. He explained he realized this issue was occurring when he was Labor and Welfare Minister during the second intifada and stressed his bill will correct the injustice. He thanked his co-sponsor MK Itzik (Kadima) and the 22 families (70-80 people) who will benefit from this bill.

Labor and Welfare Minister Kahlon (Likud) expressed government support for the bill and said he personally will do whatever he can to move this bill into law as soon as possible.

MK Tiviaev (Kadima) objected to the bill on the grounds that the treasury is not giving enough money to the orphans. Speaker Rivlin reminded Tiviaev that he must vote against the bill because he exercised his right to object to the bill.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 45-1 and was sent to the Welfare Committee.

Amendment to the Presenting Party Reports Bill

MK Gafni (U.T.J.) explained the current law requires political parties to present an annual financial report to three different government authorities with different deadlines. He announced his amendment will create a single deadline for all three authorities and will require the reports to be identical. He noted the government does not have a position on the bill because it is an internal legislative branch matter.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 37-0 and was sent to the House Committee to decide which committee should discuss the bill.

Amendment to the Consumer Protection Bill

MK Tirosh (Kadima) explained her amendment will require the labeling of alcoholic beverages to be identical to that of cigarettes. She slammed the government for not releasing the protocols of the ministerial committees. She struggled to understand why it is okay to write that cigarettes give you cancer but it isn’t okay to write that alcohol kills brain cells. She stated her bill is an educational bill that will explain to children why alcohol is bad for them.

Industry and Trade Minister Simhon (Independence) explained the government opposes the bill on the grounds that the matter will be resolved in MK Danon’s (Likud) bill, which has already passed its first reading. He said there is no reason to pass Tirosh’s bill since it will be irrelevant within a few weeks of Danon’s bill passing its third reading.

MK Tirosh said that the cynical suggestion that her bill is trying to steal MK Danon’s ideas is unacceptable and stressed that she never read Danon’s bill or knew of its existence. She asked that her bill be pulled so she can have time to read Danon’s bill. Minister Simhon refused and called on the Knesset to defeat the bill.

The bill was defeated 23-46 with one MK abstaining.

Amendment to the Income Support Bill

MK Solodkin (Kadima) explained her amendment will increase the amount a person can earn while remaining eligible for a government entitlement. She said the current situation encourages eligible citizens not to declare their income accurately and to cheat on their taxes. She slammed current government plans to raise the amount by a proposed 4% for only certain “important” entitlements. She also slammed the 35 shekel cost increase for senior citizen’s monthly bus passes in Gush Dan, part of the new public transportation reform.

Labor and Welfare Minister Kahlon expressed government opposition to the bill citing the financial burden it would put on the budget. He reported that certain entitlement groups will receive raises in both their entitlements and their allotted salaries. He stressed the government has priorities and certain groups deserve entitlements more than others.

MK Solodkin blasted the government for being too capitalistic and suggested they pay more attention to the poor.

The bill was defeated 23-42.

Amendment to the Prohibiting Fraud in Kashrut Bill

MK Katzeleh (N.U.) explained this is his third time in two years bringing up this bill. He announced his amendment would give ultimate authority for determining the criteria for kosher certificates to the Central Rabbinate and would not allow the Supreme Court to intervene, as they have in a handful of cases. He informed the plenum that Israel’s Chief Rabbis Amar and Metzger both support the bill. He stressed that halacha (Jewish law) should be decided by rabbis and not Supreme Court justices. He asked how the country can be a Jewish and Democratic state if the country rejects its Jewish half.

Religious Affairs Minister Margi (Shas) agreed that it is unacceptable for the Supreme Court to force a city rabbi to grant a kosher certificate to a business when the rabbi feels the business is not kosher. He praised the bill, saying it is a great bill that is balanced and brings order to kosher certificates. He slammed the ministers who are forcing the government to oppose the bill on the grounds that it is a bill that bypasses the Supreme Court.

MK Katzeleh thanked Minister Margi for his support of the bill and asked the religious MKs in the room why they are voting against their rabbis. He particularly slammed Shas for voting against Rav Ovadia Yosef and Rav Amar.

Speaker Rivlin pulled back his support for a roll call vote on the bill on the grounds that most of the MKs who requested the roll call were not present. Kadima, Meretz and the Arab parties were not in the room for the vote in order to embarrass the religious MKs by forcing them to vote against a bill they believe in.

The bill was defeated 4-36 with MK Zeev (Shas) abstaining.

Amendment to the Social Security Bill

MK Gilon (Meretz) explained his amendment would grant an extension to the deadline for claiming benefits and extend that period until the money is paid in full to the citizen. He confessed that he is a big fan of taxes and his party wishes taxes were higher on the rich and middle class to help the poor. He said that many people realize they were entitled to money only years later and should be allowed to collect the money retroactively and his bill will enable this. He called on uniting all of the tax authorities under one roof.  After it was clear the government opposed the bill, Gilon decided to pull his bill and not vote on it to avoid defeat.

Amendment to the Protection of Privacy Bill

MK Khenin (Hadash) explained his bill would prohibit employers from monitoring their employees. He said when the Protection of Privacy Bill was passed in the 1980s no one knew of the dangers today’s technology would have on Israelis’ privacy. He slammed Orange for selling their customers’ information to various companies for a hefty pay check. He explained his bill would prohibit such things. He announced he would delay the vote on the bill in order to lobby for government support.

Amendment to the Consumer Protection Bill

MK Cabel (Labor) explained his amendment would require a citizen to pay his bills only according to necessity, meaning one would not have to pay two telephone bills if no longer living in one of the houses. He stated the idea of the bill is that the consumer will not be paying money for services he is not receiving. No minister was in the room, so the bill went to a quick vote.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 11-0 and was sent to the Finance Committee.

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