Last Wednesday’s session lasted about eight hours. Fourteen bills were discussed. Twelve bills were advanced after passing their preliminary readings, one was turned into a motion to avoid defeat and one was defeated. Four of the bills advanced call for canceling the retirement age increase for women from 62 to 67. MK Bielski (Kadima) was the sponsor of three of the bills advanced. The highlight of the day was MK Zoabi (Balad) resisting her removal from the plenum during the 40 MK signature session, assaulting two female security guards. A breast feeding bill caused a stir during its discussion.

 

Non-Bills Summary

  • Deputy Finance Minister Cohen (Shas), Homefront Security Minister Vilnai (Independence), Deputy Foreign Minister Ayalon (Y.B.) and Environment Minister Erdan (Likud) answered urgent queries to begin the session.
  • A discussion on the topic ‘The Netanyahu government’s failure in the political, economic and social sectors’ was discussed by fifteen MKs. As required by 40 MKs’ signatures, Prime Minister Netanyahu responded, and Opposition Leader Livni had the last say.
  • Four motions were discussed. Motions on the idea to make Sunday a day of rest and the declaration of Independence of South Sudan passed 12-0 and 8-0, respectively, and were sent to committee for further discussion. Motions on the Quartet meeting in Washington and the conclusions and lessons from the air flotilla were defeated by votes of 3-5 and 1-5, respectively.
  • Deputy Foreign Minister Ayalon responded to a query at the end of the session.

 

Bills Summary

Amendment to the Consumer Protection Bill

MK Maklev (U.T.J.) explained his amendment would force companies to send consumers an annual summary of the past year’s monthly transactions in the mail. He announced that the government supports his bill.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 16-1 and was sent to the Finance Committee.

Amendment to the State Education Bill

MK Orlev (J.H.) explained his amendment would force schools to include promoting service in the IDF and national service among their education goals and purposes.

Education Minister Sa’ar (Likud) expressed government support for the bill.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 30-0 and was sent to the Education Committee.

Amendment to the Victims of Crime Rights Bill

MK Bielski (Kadima) explained his amendment would include the offense of abandonment after a car accident as part of the Victims of Crime Rights Bill. He said over the last decade there have been 7,000 hit and run accidents in Israel and it has become an epidemic. He gave detailed examples of tragic cases where the offenders were sentenced with just community service on plea bargains. He explained his bill would prohibit a plea bargain if against the wishes of the victim’s immediate family.

Justice Minister Neeman expressed government support for the bill.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 46-0 and was sent to the Justice Committee.

Accessibility to Report Dangerous Driving Bill                        

MK Bielski explained his amendment would allow citizens to report dangerous driving of all company cars to a special traffic security number. He noted that 31,000 Israelis have died from traffic accidents, higher than the number of Israeli deaths in all of Israel’s wars.

Environment Minister Erdan expressed government support for the bill.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 38-0 and was sent to the Finance Committee.

Amendment to the Tenders Bill

MK Bielski explained his amendment would prohibit the discrimination of age for government tenders. He praised Israeli Bank Governor Stanley Fisher for saving Israel from the global recession and attacked the World Bank for not accepting Fisher’s application for their governor because he is 67 and the tender is only for applicants under 65. He noted the bill will allow an age ceiling of 80 for government tenders. He thanked his luck for passing three bills in one day.

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

The bill passed its preliminary reading 42-0 and was sent to the Justice Committee.

Amendment to the Welfare Services Bill

MK Solodkin (Kadima) explained her amendment would change the composition of the welfare appeals committee in local authorities. She stated the committee will consist of three members. A judge would serve as the chairman of the committee, and the other two members would be a licensed social worker and a city council member.

Deputy Health Minister Litzman (U.T.J.) expressed government support for the bill.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 40-0 and was sent to the Welfare Committee.

Amendment to the Knesset Bill

MK Levin (Likud) explained his amendment would regulate the wages and other payments to those whose membership in the Knesset has been suspended. He explained that until now each MK received a different amount and this bill will ensure each suspended MK will receive the same payments.

Speaker Rivlin noted that because it is an internal Knesset matter the government may not give their position. He told Levin that history will remember him as the man who fixed the Israeli Knesset official protocols after more than 60 years of misuse.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 30-2 with two MKs abstaining and was sent to the House Committee.

Encouraging Breast Feeding and Keeping Babies Well-Nourished Bill

MK Danon (Likud) explained his bill would prohibit baby formula companies from giving free samples or presents to new mothers in Israeli hospitals. He said the companies give money to the hospitals to allow them to enter the new mothers’ private rooms and persuade the mothers to use formula over breast milk. He cited statistics that show formula is inferior to breast milk and in many cases slows babies’ development, lowers their immune system and increases incidents of illness.

Deputy Health Minister Litzman expressed government support to the bill. He agreed studies show formula causes health risks for babies and mothers shouldn’t be encouraged to use it.

MK Gal-On (Meretz) heckled Litzman and the government position throughout his speech. She slammed breast feeding as chauvinistic. She said those who oppose formula are against feminism and trap mothers at home all day with the baby. She said the Knesset is acting as a dictatorship that is deciding for mothers what the ideal mother is and forcing them to breastfeed. She said it should be a mother’s choice which way she wants to feed her child. She said that as a mother she didn’t breastfeed and her children are fine. She said women are free to do as they please and shouldn’t be given guilt trips. She called on lifting bans on all abortions for the same reason. She said the government and Danon will not decide for the mother what is best for her children. Female MKs heckled Gal-On. She responded by saying the government is wrong and this bill must be defeated.

MK Danon responded that the bill doesn’t force mothers to breastfeed; rather, the bill is against formula companies spending millions of dollars per year bribing hospitals to enter mothers’ private rooms. He said this bill is for mothers. He said it does encourage breast feeding, but it doesn’t stop mothers from making the choice to use formula.

Speaker Rivlin stated a mother’s milk is best for babies.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 43-13 and was sent to the House Committee to decide which committee will discuss the matter further.

Motion/Amendment to the Business Licensing Bill

MK Naffaa (Balad) explained his amendment would regulate the supervision of summer camps. He stated that half a million children attend over 5,000 camps every summer and the government has stayed out of it despite the State Comptrollers criticism. He explained his bill would require all summer camps to receive a business license. He noted that not one unlicensed summer camp has been charged for not having a license. He stated it is important for the government to get involved in this matter because it is important to know the country’s children are in a safe environment. He expressed disappointment in the government’s opposition to the bill. He announced he reached an agreement with Coalition Chairman Elkin (Likud) in which the bill will be turned into a motion to avoid defeat.

The motion passed 24-0 and was sent to the Interior Committee.

Amendment to the State Education Bill

MK Horowitz (Meretz) explained his amendment would prohibit local authorities from budgeting unrecognized educational institutions. UTJ and Shas MKs heckled Horowitz. He confessed this bill will repeal the Nahari Bill that enables the local authorities to budget money for unlicensed ultra-orthodox schools. He admitted he is against religious schools and feels all State schools should be secular. He said he thinks religious schools should not receive any State or local funding and be totally private. He called on separation of synagogue from State and the end of government funding of religious schools. He said this bill will free up money to allow the secular schools to provide free lunches and free school buses. He called religious schools racist and charged they discriminate against the Sephardic Jews. He said there are only six education ministry inspectors in the entire country and only one of them inspects religious schools.

Education Minister Sa’ar expressed government opposition to the bill on the grounds it will repeal the Nahari Bill that was passed under Prime Minister Olmert’s administration. He said the balance that was reached in the bill is that each local authority is allowed to decide for itself if they choose to fund recognized schools or unrecognized schools. He noted the only MKs that voted against the Nahari Bill in the previous Knesset were those in the Meretz party. He revealed that as Education Minister he cut State funding to six religious State schools that refused to teach English.

MK Horowitz went on to blast religious schools for five straight minutes.

The bill was defeated 15-47. MK Gafni (U.T.J.) announced he pressed the wrong button and voted for the bill by mistake. Speaker Rivlin decided not to change his vote.

Four Amendments to the Retirement Age Bill

MK Itzik (Kadima) explained that her amendment would cancel the planned gradual increase in retirement age for women from 62 to 67. She rejected claims that it is hypocritical to be a feminist and decide women shouldn’t retire at the same age as men. She said it is just that men retire at 67 and women at 62. She praised Foreign Minister Liberman and Yisrael Beitenu for pressing the government to support her bill. She called for equality for women, which she said starts with giving women more rights than men. She rejected suggestions this would cause mass firings of women because employers will receive five fewer years than they were expecting from their female employees. She slammed Shas for not helping her promote the bill. She warned the men that one day they will be a minority and then women will take men’s rights into consideration.

MK Agbaria (Hadash) said that when a country is strong financially there is no reason its citizens need to work hard. He called on the government to lower men’s retirement age to 62 as a first step and lower everyone’s retirement age at a later stage to 55. He called on the Knesset to support his similar bill.

MK Hotovely (Likud) explained her similar amendment would do the same exact thing. She thanked all the female MKs from all of the parties who cooperated together to push this bill through. She said everyone has a right to retire and receive their pension and her bill allows women to retire at 62. She slammed Israel for having one of the highest retirement ages for women at 62 and called on the government to lower it even further.

MK Gal-On (Meretz) was supposed to present her similar amendment but was not present. Speaker Rivlin determined the Knesset will not wait for her and asked the government to respond to the first three bills.

Culture and Sports Minister Livnat (Likud) gave a long, feministic speech that had absolutely nothing to do with the actual bills. She slammed Opposition Leader Livni for not supporting the bill and told her that as a mother she should be ashamed of herself. She said the coalition members are allowed to vote according to their consciences and the government is not taking an official position.

MK Gal-On asked to present her bill. Speaker Rivlin allowed her bill to be presented and gave Gal-On thirty seconds to speak on her bill.

The four bills passed their preliminary readings 67-1, 68-1, 68-1 and 59-1 and were all sent to the House Committee to determine which committee will discuss them.

Opposition Leader Livni slammed Minister Livnat and said she wouldn’t comment on her allegations.

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