The June 20 session lasted thirteen and a half hours. Fourteen bills were discussed. Eleven bills were advanced after passing their preliminary readings, one bill was turned into a motion to avoid defeat, one was pulled to avoid defeat and one was defeated. Votes to establish two Knesset inquiry committees that would examine Israeli liberal organizations who are delegitimizing the Israeli military and foreign governments purchasing Israeli land were defeated. The government did not take a stand on the inquiry committees, and that allowed liberal members of the coalition to either vote against them or be absent from the votes. Another highlight of the day was the only bill defeated that would have given housing subsidies to young couples, students and the homeless. The government asked sponsor MK Molla (Kadima) to delay the vote on the bill in order to rally up support but Molla refused.  A controversial amendment that would apply the Museum Bill to Judea and Samaria was advanced.

 

Non-Bills Summary

  • Housing Minister Atias (Shas), 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.
  • Funds Committee Chairman Gafni (U.T.J.) announced his committee’s decision regarding the raising of customs taxes of tilapia and other fish. The measures were approved by votes of 50-0 and 51-0.
  • The Knesset discussed the House Committee’s request to establish parliamentary inquiry committees on the subjects of ‘the involvement of foreign governments and Israeli organizations in financed land purchases in Israel’ and ‘the activity of Israeli organizations taking part in the campaign to delegitimize the IDF’ headed by MKs Kirshenbaum (Y.B.) and Danon (Likud), respectively. 57 MKs gave speeches on the subject in a discussion that lasted for hours. Both House Committee requests were defeated by votes of 28-57 with 35 MKs not present.
  • Constitution, Law and Justice Committee Chairman Rotem announced his committee’s request to apply the continuity clause on a bill. The Knesset will vote on the request in two weeks.
  • Five of the six motions discussed were sent to committee for further discussion following votes of 10-0, 9-0, 8-0, 7-0 and 6-0. One of the motions was defeated 1-7.
  • Homefront Defense Minister Vilnai (Independence) answered six queries from about midnight until about 12:30 AM to close the long session.

 

Bills Summary

Motion/Amendment to the National Health Insurance Bill

MK Eichler (U.T.J.) explained his amendment would provide free transportation for all ambulance rides back and forth from the hospital. He said he proposed the bill seven months ago when he entered the Knesset and the government has systematically opposed it since then. He slammed the current practice that sick people need to pay for their ambulance rides. He noted cancer patients visit the hospital several times a month for chemo treatments and must pay their own way.

Deputy Health Minister Litzman (U.T.J.) responded he agrees with the bill but there are not enough funds in his ministry’s budget to support it. He suggested turning the bill into a motion and to discuss in committee which aspects of the bill could be passed. He said that there are many people who are sent home and not admitted to the hospital every day and this bill would cost millions if the current version of the bill was passed.

Labor and Welfare Minister Kahlon (Likud) revealed that he voted for the bill in the ministerial committee of legislative affairs. He said he will discuss the matter further in the committee and will try to assist in any way that he can to keep as much of the bill in place and to pass it.

Eichler agreed to turn his bill into a motion.

The motion passed 20-0 and was sent to the Health Committee.

Amendment to the Social Security Bill

MK Haim Katz (Likud) explained his amendment would increase the maximum allowable income for purposes of determining eligibility for holocaust survivors’ benefits. He said that someone who survived the hunger of the holocaust should be allowed to eat in Israel.

Labor and Welfare Minister Kahlon expressed government support for the bill.

Minister Peled (Likud) said that it is hard for him to be a moderate when it comes to the holocaust. He said as the only current holocaust survivor elected to the Knesset he feels this bill must be expanded. He thanked MK Katz and told him to seek more compensation for holocaust survivors. Speaker Rivlin expressed his support for Peled’s words. Peled revealed that he was told to restrain himself and not speak on the issue but said he cannot restrain himself on anything that has to do with the just rights of the survivors. He said that there are few survivors left and something must be done before it’s too late.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 22-0 and was sent to the Welfare Committee.

Amendment to the Pre-Military Bill

MK Orlev (J.H.) explained his amendment would assign the responsibility of funding the pre-military educational institutions to the education ministry. He noted that the current situation that requires both the defense and education ministries to fund the institutions results in the two ministries pushing the responsibility of funding on the other, resulting in no funding.

Deputy Education Minister Moses (U.T.J.) expressed government support for the bill.

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

Amendment to the Museums Bill

MK Orbach (J.H.) explained his amendment would allow all youth under 18 and all soldiers to visit all of Israel’s museums for free. He said that an average family museum visit can cost over 200 shekels per family and this bill will lower that number tremendously. He stated this will start a cultural revolution.

Culture and Sport Minister Livnat (Likud) expressed government support for the bill. She expressed hope to make museums free for everyone in the future. She revealed that the entire annual budget for Israel’s museums stands at a low NIS 39.5 million and the overall budget allotment for Israeli culture is just 0.2%. She added that the bill will only include children who come with their parents and not children who come in groups, such as school trips or summer camps.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 27-0 and was sent to the Education Committee.

Amendment to the Social Security Bill

MK Michaeli (Shas) explained his amendment would allow someone to receive disability insurance and still qualify for social security. He noted that under the current law a person must choose whether to receive disability insurance or social security. He asked why a person would pay both if he isn’t allowed to receive both and said the answer is the law should be changed so that he may receive both.

Labor and Welfare Minister Kahlon expressed government support for the bill.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 27-0 and was sent to the Welfare Committee.

Amendment to the Communications Bill

MK Levi-Abekasis explained her amendment would require Bezeq and other communications companies to add 1202, the telephone hotline for victims of sexual assault, to the list of free phone numbers. She said the hotline should be free and this bill will accomplish that. She noted the average call to the hotline is longer than to other emergency services and the people who call are typically poor people. She added the bill will require the companies not to list the hotline on the monthly bill sent in the mail. She expressed hope this will protect the abused from their spouses. She added the bill will require the hotline be included in the mandatory emergency numbers on electronic phones.

Communications Minister Kahlon expressed government support for the bill.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 27-0 and was sent to the House Committee to determine which committee will discuss the bill further.

Amendment to the Ports Ordinance Bill

MK Levin (Likud) explained his amendment would require the government to be responsible for customs agents’ liabilities against importing and exporting companies’ claims. He added that customs agents shouldn’t be left out to dry for doing their jobs.

Transportation Minister Katz (Likud) expressed government support for the bill.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 24-0 and was sent to the Funds Committee.

Amendment to the Local Authorities Elections Bill

MK Ezra (Kadima) explained his amendment would require the local authority to follow the voting process of national elections regarding people who may vote while accompanied by another person as a result of an illness or disability. He explained that currently the local authority process is looser and allows certain people to take advantage of it by forcing someone to vote for a certain party. He added that the Supreme Court ruled that the Knesset should fix this issue as soon as possible to avoid further violations.

Interior Minister Yishai (Shas) expressed government support for the bill.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 26-0 and was sent to the Interior Committee.

Amendment to the Workers’ Working Conditions Bill

MK Yacimovich (Labor) explained her amendment would place civil sanctions on employers whose workers work in unfit conditions or have had their rights violated.

Industry and Trade Minister Simhon (Independence) expressed government support for the bill.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 26-0 and was sent to the Labor Committee.

Amendment to the Population Registration Bill

MK Cabel (Labor) explained his amendment would allow the determination of who can be considered Jewish for registration purposes by a rabbinical court ruling. He said that if someone is considered Jewish according to the rabbinical court they should be Jewish according to the interior ministry.

Interior Minister Yishai expressed government support for the bill.

MK El-Sana (R.T.) opposed the bill on the grounds that he wants the bill to have a similar clause regarding who is considered Muslim. He also called on the population registration to add to their database the Arabs who live in unrecognized cities.

MK Azoulay (Shas) supported Cabel’s bill and said it is among the most important bills he has seen. He added that this will prevent Jewish people from being labeled as non-Jews.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 37-0 and was sent to the Interior Committee.

Amendment to the Museums Bill

MK Ariel (N.U.) explained the amendment would allow the application of the museum law in Judea and Samaria. He stated that for years MKs have tried to pass this bill due to the defense ministry’s general persecution of the residents of Judea and Samaria and said their culture is yet another example of this.

Culture and Sport Minister Livnat (Likud) expressed government support for the bill. She said it is unacceptable that residents in Ma’aleh Adumim, Ariel and Kiryat Arba do not have equal rights to those in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. She slammed the press for pushing her hard on this bill. She stressed that the government doesn’t discriminate against those who live in Judea and Samaria. She read out several letters from 1999 and onwards that show the defense ministry illegally held up funds designated for the museums and culture in Judea and Samaria. She listed several museums that are currently prohibited from receiving her ministry’s funding and said after this bill is passed they will be allowed to receive it. She slammed Defense Minister Barak for holding it up personally for most of the last twelve years, noting he was the minister in charge from 1999-2001 and again from 2007-2011. Deputy Speaker Vaknin (Shas) told Livnat to finish her speech and said it is unacceptable that she should give a speech that is over 20 minutes long. Livnat said the bill was very important and eventually stepped off the podium.

MK El-Sana objected to the bill, claiming that Jews are living illegally in Judea and Samaria and that those Jews are living out of Israel’s territories. He said this bill is illegal without the Palestinian Authority’s approval and that it will set a dangerous precedent that will be worse than the boycott bill. He called on the MKs to vote against a bill that would be thrown out as illegal in international courts.

MK Ariel called on the MKs to support his bill and to fund museums in Judea and Samaria.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 51-9 and was sent to the Culture Committee.

Amendment to the Security Agency Bill

MK Yisrael Hasson (Kadima) explained his amendment would set new conditions for exemption from the army because of religious conviction reasons. He said the time has come to reexamine how the army determines who is a religious girl who can opt out of the army and who is pretending to be religious. He explained that he has agreed to delay the vote on his bill until the findings of a new committee that will examine solutions to the problem. He revealed the committee will consist of him, Elkin, Matalon and ultra-orthodox MKs. He said that he will vote on the bill at any point he feels the committee isn’t satisfying him with any results.

Amendment to the Planning and Building Bill

MK Molla (Kadima) explained his amendment would force the government to make available affordable housing to students, young couples and the homeless. He added the bill would also give subsidies to those populations for housing. He suggested his bill is the only way to solve the housing crisis and said every other solution the government presents is too capitalistic and not helpful for the average citizen. Deputy Speaker Vaknin agreed that the government isn’t doing enough and they should expect demonstrations the size of Egypt if they don’t provide their own solutions. Vaknin asked Molla to delay the vote on the bill and to let him talk to the government. Molla responded that his bill was defeated six months ago and it will be defeated again now. Vaknin again pleaded with Molla, but Molla refused.

Interior Minister Yishai said he agrees with the bill but disagrees with Molla trying to blackmail him. He revealed that the government told Molla on Sunday they needed more time to examine the bill and to postpone the vote for two weeks but instead Molla chose political gain over solving the housing crisis. He called on Molla to work with him and expressed his willingness to fight for this bill with the coalition if he agrees to delay the vote. He said he would use all of his strength in order to pass this important bill. Vaknin called on Molla to listen to Yishai. Yishai warned Molla he would submit a similar bill and take all the credit if Molla chose to be stubborn.

MK Molla refused to pull the bill. Vaknin told him he was making a mistake. Molla asked for a name roll call in order to embarrass the coalition MKs.

The bill was defeated 40-48.

Digital Textbooks Bill

MK Wilf (Independence) was heckled heavily for about five minutes straight from the Kadima MKs. Deputy Speaker Vaknin restored order.  Wilf explained that her original bill would require all new textbooks to be published digitally at half the price of the printed version. She expressed hope this would encourage more local authorities to teach more classes electronically. She praised local authorities that offer such classes, such as Petah Tikva, Bat Yam and Ganei Tikva. She stressed that digital textbooks will make studying easier for a generation that is growing up with other technological breakthroughs.

Deputy Education Minister Moses expressed government support for the bill. He said that within five years all textbooks will have a digital version. He noted that all textbook publishers that offer a digital version in the next year will receive financial compensation from the country. He said the digital textbooks will be protected from piracy.

MK Michaeli (Y.B.) noted the book publishers made NIS 450 million in 2009 and NIS 1 billion in 2010 and said the number is expected to be higher for 2011. She said that steps must be taken to regulate and supervise the textbook industry in Israel. She said she would abstain on the bill because it doesn’t set a cap.

MK Gafni (U.T.J.) objected to the bill on the grounds that the ultra-orthodox education system opposes technology. He said he won’t let his three children learn from electronic books because it will lead to them using the internet. He said the country can do what they want to the State education system but he won’t accept it on his system.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 36-3 with one MK abstaining and was sent to the Education Committee.

Advertisements