Monday’s session, the first day of the fourth winter session, lasted about five and a half hours. Rivlin, Peres, Netanyahu and Livni gave speeches. Four no-confidence motions were defeated, and a bill that would grant soldiers a free year of college in Jerusalem was passed in its first reading. Ambassadors, diplomats, former MKs and the leaders of the tent protesters watched the opening session.

The comedic headline of the day was former Black Panther MK Charlie Bitton getting himself thrown out during President Peres’ speech. Before the session 30 MKs from different parties participated in a group hug.

Non-Bills Summary

* Speaker Rivlin, President Peres, Prime Minister Netanyahu and Opposition Leader Livni gave speeches to open up this Knesset’s fourth winter session. The four speakers took different angles on summarizing the Knesset’s 88-day recess. They agreed the main issue facing Israel going forward is Iran.

* Kadima’s no-confidence motion titled ‘The Netanyahu government’s failure in meeting the housing demand of the citizens of Israel’ was defeated 29-45 with one MK abstaining.

* Hadash, Ra’am-Ta’al and Balad’s joint no-confidence motion titled ‘The government’s failure in the political, economic and social sectors’ was
defeated 24-47 with one MK abstaining.

* Labor’s no-confidence motion titled ‘The failure of the Netanyahu government to reduce social and economic gaps’ was defeated 12-45.

* National Union’s no-confidence titled ‘The demolition of houses of Israeli citizens living in Judea and Samaria’ was defeated 4-47 with 18 MKs abstaining.

* House Committee Chairman Levin (Likud) announced that MK El-Sana (R.T.) and MK Tibi (R.T.) will switch places with El-Sana joining the Funds Committee and Tibi joining the Justice Committee.

Bill Summary

Amendment to the Jerusalem Development Authority Bill

Deputy Minister Gamliel (Likud) explained that the bill would grant every soldier who served his complete service in the I.D.F. or national service their first year of college or university free of charge throughout Jerusalem. She stated this bill is the expansion of a previous February bill that granted a free year to students learning in the Negev, Galil, Ashkelon, Judea and Samaria. She expressed confidence that it would only be a matter of time until she adds another bill that would cover a free year for all university students.

MK Zeev (Shas) expressed his support for the bill. He stressed that Jerusalem is an ultra-orthodox town and resents those who say this bill will help the demographic problem of the city. Zeev went on to slam those who criticize the ultra-orthodox education system.

MK Ben Ari (N.U.) expressed his support for the bill. He asked where the thousand new Jerusalem students are supposed to live when the government refuses to build in metropolitan Jerusalem. He slammed the terrible public transportation in Jerusalem which takes two and a half hours to get from one side to the other.

MK Orlev (J.H.) expressed his support for the bill. He said that many young Jerusalem students have left the city and he hopes this bill becomes retroactive to assist those Jerusalem students who stayed. He expressed hope that the bill will be passed before Deputy Minister Gamliel’s pregnancy due date later this month.

MK Ariel (N.U.) expressed his support for the bill. He slammed Netanyahu for taking control of approving all housing in Jerusalem. He said that Jerusalem needs 5,000-6,000 housing units each year and instead Netanyahu only approves a few hundred a year. He asked the Likud ministers why they are staying silent and asked them to speak up to Netanyahu, if not to the public.

The bill passed its first reading 23-0 and was sent to the Labor Committee.