The Monday, July 18, session lasted about six and a half hours. Thirteen bills were discussed. There are six news laws following approval in their third readings, and seven bills were advanced after passing their first readings. The government easily defeated three no-confidence motions. The themes of most of the speeches of the night were the housing crisis, divorce and the courts. The highlight bill of the night was the orphan bill, which had the most speeches, received the most media coverage and was the talk of the Knesset’s hallways. Another interesting law names the producer as the sole owner of any music he produces.
- Kadima’s no-confidence motion titled ‘The Netanyahu government’s failure in solving the housing shortage of the citizens of Israel and especially of young couples’ was defeated 37-51 with 32 MKs not present.
- Labor and Meretz’s joint no-confidence motion titled ‘The government’s failure to prevent legislation that harms the democratic character of the State’ was defeated 34-54 with 32 MKs not present.
- Hadash, Ra’am-Ta’al and Balad’s joint no-confidence motion titled ‘A failed government which threatens democracy’ was defeated 29-54 with 37 MKs not present.
- Funds Committee Chairman Gafni (U.T.J.) announced his committee’s request to apply a continuity clause on a bill. The MKs have two weeks to declare opposition to the request.
- Finance Committee Chairman Shama (Likud) announced his committee’s request to apply technical changes to two bills. The request was approved by a 6-0 vote.
Amendment to the Antitrust Bill
Finance Committee Chairman Shama (Likud) explained the amendment would place limitations on businesses that would help the overall power of the market. He stated that when trusts are not limited they buy up entire markets, raise prices and eliminate competitors. He explained the new measure will place every company merger or buyout under a microscope and will allow the government to force the trusts to sell off some of their companies. He said that markets that are currently regulated will also be affected by the bill, with the regulator and the finance ministry both involved in determining who is a trust. He expressed hope this bill would break up monopolies and open the market to more competitors.
The bill passed its second reading 44-0.
The bill passed its third reading 53-0.
Temporary Provisions on the Amendment to the Israel Defense Army Radio Broadcasting Bill
Finance Committee Chairman Shama explained the amendment would extend the temporary provision that allows sponsorship, service announcements and advertising on the army radio stations despite their designation as public broadcast stations. He added that the provision has been extended several times since it was first introduced in 2005 to provide the stations with additional income and this extension will add another six months to the provision. He warned if this provision isn’t extended the stations might go bankrupt.
The bill passed its second reading 44-1.
The bill passed its third reading 43-1-1.
Amendment to the National Parks, Nature Reserves, National Sites and Memorial Sites Bill
MK Khenin (Hadash) explained the amendment will allow members of the national parks, reserves and sites council to serve three terms, compared to the one term they are currently restricted to by law. He reminded the MKs that the council members’ terms would not be automatically extended; rather, they would have to be either re-elected or re-appointed.
The bill passed its second reading 27-0.
The bill passed its third reading 26-0 with one MK abstaining.
Amendment to the Civil Service Bill
Deputy Finance Minister Cohen (Shas) presented the only 2011 government bill to be defeated (with last week’s 15-19 vote). He explained the amendment would define new regulation surrounding the pension of land authority workers.
MK Eichler (U.T.J.) slammed the bill as unfair to other government workers since it provides land authority workers the ability to retire early and receive full benefits. He expressed support for the government’s facelift reform of the land authority but expressed regret for the high price that has to be paid to achieve it. He slammed the press for giving a couple dozen young kids media coverage for protesting the housing shortage when dozens of MKs have been protesting the housing shortage from the Knesset podium with no media coverage.
MK Molla (Kadima) charged this bill would hurt the land authority workers and is just another part of the government’s failed reform of the authority. He called on the government to buy 100,000 caravans that can serve as temporary homes while the country solves the housing crisis.
MK Ben Ari (N.U.) noted the housing crisis is out of hand. He mentioned that he lives in Judea and Samaria in a settlement called Karnei Shomron. He remarked that former Meretz MK Shulamit Aloni lives in the private land of the former Arab village El-Haram, now known as one of Israel’s most exclusive towns, Kfar Shmaryahu. He slammed her for living on conquered stolen land and noted that he doesn’t live on private Arab land. He said the building freeze has forced the children of settlers to live in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and lifting the freeze will stop that from happening. He praised the new boycott bill and slammed the government for boycotting the settlements and the settlers.
Finance Minister Steinitz (Likud) slammed the 19 opposition MKs who voted down the bill the previous week. He charged they are the ones who are prolonging the housing crisis by delaying the passage of this bill. He reminded those present that this bill is the last piece of the land authority reform and part of Bibi’s 100-day plan.
The bill passed its first reading 41-11 and was sent to the Labor Committee.
Amendment to the Real Estate Tax Bill
Finance Minister Steinitz reported that over the eight years of 2000-2008 the housing shortage increased by 80,000 building units. He announced the government has built more units this year, reducing the shortage to 60,000 units. He stated there are about 80,000 units that were bought as investments and are not being rented out and about 60,000 units in residential zoned areas that are being used for commercial purposes. He explained that 140,000 apartments that no one lives in create an additional burden on the housing shortage. He explained his amendment would create incentives that reduce the taxes on these 140,000 apartments if they are sold or rented in order to lower the demand for housing throughout the country. He noted the incentives would last through the end of 2012. He said in order to entice people to take the tax incentives, those who don’t sell or rent out their units by the end of 2012 will see a tax hike.
MK Swaid (Hadash) called on the prime minister to bring a supertanker to the Israeli Arab housing shortage because it is at its worst in that sector. He also called on legalizing the illegal housing in Arab cities.
MK Ariel (N.U.) asked if this bill will also take effect in Judea and Samaria. Justice Minister Neeman and Coalition Chairman Elkin (Likud) responded that it wouldn’t, and Ariel responded that they should be ashamed of themselves. He slammed the government for discriminating against the citizens in Judea and Samaria. He said the measures in this bill are, in typical government fashion, too little, too late and too slow. He blasted the government for freezing 10,000 approved units in Judea and Samaria and told his conservative friends there is a limit to how long they can hide behind Defense Minister Barak.
MK Eichler supported Ariel’s initiative to have this bill apply to Judea and Samaria as well. He expressed disappointment with the government’s discrimination of its citizens based on location and asked if the Israeli government was in violation of the new boycott law for doing so against hundreds of thousands of its citizens.
MK Ben Ari said this bill is an “empty bottle” and the government is lying to its people by promising this bill will solve the housing shortage. He said the easiest way to solve the housing shortage is to lift the freeze on previously approved units in Judea and Samaria and to add more. In conclusion he told the Tel Avivians protesting in tents that if they hadn’t welcomed 40,000 Sudanese into their city maybe they would have a place to rent or buy.
MK Zeev (Shas) defended the government and the bill. He slammed Molla and told him he has absolutely no idea what he is talking about and stressed his own experience of 15 years on the building and planning committee of Jerusalem.
MK Molla expressed support for the bill. Rather than slamming the bill he opted instead to slam the government for not applying this bill to the settlement blocks that would remain part of Israel after any peace agreement under every Israeli consensus. He said anyone who equates Ma’aleh Adumim and Gush Etzion with Yitzhar is an enemy of Zionism. He called on Netanyahu to build up the settlement blocks. He noted that under Olmert’s term 9,000 units were built in Judea and Samaria, all in the blocks. He concluded by repeating his demand that the government apply this law to the settlement blocks and build up the settlement blocks to solve the housing crisis.
MK Shai (Kadima) called this bill a band-aid for an illness that is in dire need of heavy medication. He slammed the housing crisis and blamed the current government for causing it.
The bill passed its first reading 40-1 with one MK abstaining and was sent to the Funds Committee.
Temporary Provision on the Courts Bill
Justice Minister Neeman explained the courts have too many unsolved cases, mainly due to the large number of cases that are stuck in the system. He said 60% of the cases in Tel Aviv are open, as well as 46% in Jerusalem and Haifa and 28% in the southern districts. He stated the increased caseloads have caused people to think twice about going to court and forces many settlements. He explained the temporary provision would enable judges to delegate certain civil cases from the lower courts to compulsory arbitration which would not use judges. He explained the provision would also allow judges more flexibility in prioritizing which cases to hear sooner and which can remain on the backburner. He mentioned the new measures are being passed as temporary provisions in order to examine their impact before making them permanent.
MK Ben Ari quoted American judges’ criticism of former Supreme Court President Aharon Barak and his political activism. He exposed the favoritism of the close knit Supreme Court justices who routinely appoint family members and friends to various court positions and grant them internships in preference to more qualified applicants. He slammed the courts for these unethical political appointments. He concluded by attacking Supreme Court President Beinisch for appointing her friends to the bench beside her. He noted she has been torpedoing attempts to raise the number of Supreme Court judges in Israel from 14 to 18, allowing her to keep her power and, as a result, keep the number of open cases among the highest in the western world.
MK Levin (Likud) called the bill a breakthrough that will make the courts more efficient. He went on to slam the Supreme Court’s judgment in the recent Durrani case and told Neeman that this proves that the way justices are selected needs to be changed immediately.
MK El-Sana (R.T.) defended the Durrani judgment and spent five minutes slamming Levin and Ben Ari in particular, and all other conservative MKs in general. He defended MK Zoabi (Balad) and blasted the ethics committee for sanctioning her.
MK Zeev said democracy is in trouble as long as El-Sana is an MK. He went on to slam the Supreme Court for undermining the authority of the religious courts. He blasted the courts for taking a year and a half on average before even setting a date for the actual trial.
The bill passed its first reading 26-0 and was sent to the Law Committee.
Deputy Speaker Whbee (Kadima) was upset by the noise coming from a conversation on the other side of the room, so he called MK Miller (Y.B.) to order and suspended Miller’s assistant’s entry to the plenum for two weeks.
Amendment to the Hostility Victims Compensation Bill
MK Itzik (Kadima) explained under current Israeli law that if both parents die in a terrorist attack the entitlement package that is supposed to be granted to the children is not possible, because the current law provides that grant only to spouses and not children. She explained this amendment will correct that and allow the orphans to receive the entitlements that they deserve. She slammed the current law because it meant the children had to pay for their psychologists and their parents’ burials. She slammed the radical left who labeled this bill the “Fogel Bill,” noting this bill was written before the massacre in Itamar. She thanked the sponsor of the bill, MK Orlev (J.H.), and MK Haim Katz (Likud) for assisting in advancing this bill.
MK Ariel said this is one of the most just bills he has ever read and expressed his support for all orphans, particularly those who lost both parents in terrorist attacks.
MK Hotovely (Likud) said a bill like this doesn’t need one lobbyist. She expressed her support for the NIS 4 million that will be spent on the 80 children from 22 affected families. She asked the opposition to take politics out of the discussion because the government fully supports this bill.
MK Yaakov Katz (N.U.) called the orphans national heroes and expressed support for the bill. He listed the names of people he knew personally who were murdered in various terrorist attacks. He called on the government to build more homes in Judea and Samaria in the name of those who have fallen.
MK Haim Katz (Likud) remembered his meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu while he was forming his government. He recalled turning down a ministry position to serve as the chairman of the Labor, Welfare and Health Committee. He took credit for passing the bill and revealed that MKs Orlev and Itzik were both willing to water down the bill they sponsored, while he refused. He announced that he fought for the orphan bill and received Netanyahu’s blessing, just as he had received Netanyahu’s blessing on the widow’s bill that he passed. He assured the bill will be passed before the end of the summer session and this saga will come to an end. He slammed the ministers who opposed the bill or wished to place restrictions on it. He suggested that if it wasn’t for him this bill wouldn’t have passed.
MK Ben Ari said he was embarrassed the government needs to pass this bill and that the law doesn’t already exist. He recalled the assassination ten years ago of his friend Rav Binyamin Kahaneh and his wife, who left six orphans who never received the benefits they would have if their mother had survived. He described the hardships those six orphans had over the last decade and wondered if their lives would have been a bit different had this law existed then.
MK Zeev called this bill the most humane and moral bill he can recall. He rejected claims that members of the coalition are opposed to the bill.
MK Zuaretz (Kadima) said orphans are the responsibility of the country and if the country doesn’t take care of them nobody will.
MK Schneller (Kadima) praised the sponsors and expressed support for the bill. He said it is sad that some MKs would not have supported the bill had the budget been over NIS 5 million.
MK Orlev (J.H.) noted that one of the orphans who was sitting in the gallery watching the discussion is 15 years old and, as every orphan, is not listed in any Teudat Zehut (Israeli identification card). He slammed the Knesset for making it difficult for him to enter the building and the gallery. He blasted former governments for not passing his bill sooner. He thanked Netanyahu, Finance Minister Steinitz and Labor and Welfare Minister Kahlon for supporting the bill and allocating funds for the bill to be implemented. He thanked his co-sponsor Itzik but didn’t mention Haim Katz.
The bill passed its first reading 41-0 and was sent to the Welfare Committee.
Amendment to the Payment Dates by Debiting and Deposit Bill
Finance Committee Chairman Shama explained the amendment would give the consumer more control over companies who collect monthly automatic withdrawals. He announced the consumer will now be able to choose the day of the month he wants the transaction to take place. He noted that local authorities will be included along with all commercial companies that must follow the new rules. He envisioned a family who can decide for themselves when they want to receive their monthly bills for swimming pools, taxes, education costs and water.
The bill passed its second reading 12-0.
The bill passed its third reading 12-0.
MK Maklev (U.T.J.) thanked the Knesset and the MKs for approving his bill.
Amendment to the Proposal of the Equal Opportunities Bill
Women’s Rights Chairwoman Hotovely explained the amendment would grant women who are self-employed the same benefits as women who are salaried workers. She thanked the bill’s sponsor, Orlev, and noted she has learned a lot from him. She also thanked her staff.
The bill passed its second reading 10-0.
The bill passed its third reading 10-0.
MK Orlev thanked Hotovely for her work on this bill and her work in general.
Amendment to the Rabbinical Courts Bill
MK Schneller announced there are about 190 women who refuse to receive a get that would grant them their divorce and there are about the same number of men who refuse to give a get to their wives. He expressed hope his amendment would lower that number considerably. He noted that in most cases the case was dragged out in court and if things hadn’t gone out of control divorce could have been accomplished. He explained the bill would present the judges the tools of using multiple sanctions on the side that refuses a divorce within a 90-day period that would hopefully result in all cases being solved within that three-month time frame. He added the bill requires a court session every two weeks following the first 90 days in order to further encourage the process of completing the divorce. He praised the rabbinical judges for doing a great job and mentioned that several of them helped him formulate the bill.
The bill passed its first reading 7-0 with one MK abstaining and was sent to the Justice Committee.
Amendment to the Rabbinical Courts Bill
MK Orlev explained that his amendment is similar to Schneller’s bill. He explained it will enable the courts to grant restraining orders and supervise the implementation of them and other court decisions. He added it would force judges to convene before any court decisions are due to expire.
The bill passed its first reading 8-0 and was sent to the Justice Committee.
Amendment to the Local Authorities Bill
Funds Committee Chairman Gafni (U.T.J.) explained the amendment would determine which party in a joint electoral list is responsible for local authority election expenses.
The bill passed its first reading 8-0 and was sent to the Interior Committee.
Amendment to the Copyright Bill
Deputy Speaker Whbee almost skipped the last bill, which MK Shama was to present. Shama entered the plenum a few seconds after the previous vote, just before Whbee was about to close the session. Whbee blasted Shama for showing up late, and Shama responded he had been called into an urgent meeting with Netanyahu regarding the housing crisis.
Finance Committee Chairman Shama explained the bill would give the ownership of music or a record to the producer of the music and not to the performer. He explained the producer makes everything happen and therefore should own the music. He noted that for purposes of ownership, the producer will be recognized as the person who is listed as a producer on the record or single. Shama and Whbee started to mumble out of sheer exhaustion.
The bill passed its second reading 6-0.
The bill passed its third reading 5-0.
MK Yariv Levin slammed Whbee for repeatedly calling him Dov Levin. He thanked the MKs who stayed up late in order to approve his bill.