Monday’s session lasted less than six hours. Four bills were discussed. Three bills were advanced, two after passing their preliminary readings and one after passing its first reading. One bill became law after passing its third reading. A majority of the session was spent discussing the controversial Grunis Bill, which paves the way for Justice Grunis to serve as the next Supreme Court President. A bill which changes the selection of the bar association’s two candidates to the judicial appointment committee was also advanced.

Non-Bills Summary

* Kadima’s no-confidence motion titled ‘Netanyahu’s attempt to make a political takeover of the judicial system and press in the State of Israel’ was defeated 38-51 with one MK abstaining and 30 MKs not present.

* Labor and Meretz’s joint no-confidence motion titled ‘Attacks on democracy and freedom of expression of journalists’ was defeated 38-55 with two MKs abstaining and 25 MKs not present.

* Hadash, Ra’am-Ta’al and Balad’s joint no-confidence motion titled ‘The Netanyahu government policy is dangerous towards its citizens and peoples of the region’ was defeated 32-59 with 29 MKs not present.

* Speaker Rivlin gave a warm speech welcoming the Kenyan Prime Minister to the Knesset.

* Speaker Rivlin eulogized former MKs Yerachmiel Assa, who served in the third Knesset, and Moshe Wertman, who served in the sixth through the eighth Knessets, both of whom passed away during the summer recess.

Bills Summary

Amendment to the Broadcasting Authority Bill

Finance Committee Chairman Shama (Likud) explained the bill will exempt the 2,400 lone soldiers, as well as all senior citizens, from paying the television tax from 2012 until 2016.

The bill passed its second reading 45-0.

The bill passed its third reading 44-0.

MK Miller (Y.B.) thanked the Knesset for approving his bill and Chairman Shama for his work in the committee.

Amendment to the Courts Bill

MK Katzeleh (N.U.) explained his amendment would remove the minimum three year term as a condition of being selected as the Supreme Court President. He noted that all of the Supreme Court Justices are secular Ashkenazi Jews who live in Tel Aviv. MK Shai and MK Molla heckled the speech, and Deputy Speaker Vaknin restored order. Katzeleh stressed that Israelis are upset that the Supreme Court doesn’t reflect Israeli society but rather just a small minority. He asked why in other western countries like the United States the judges are elected or appointed by a President but in Israel it is in a cigar filled room that our judges are appointed without any vetting process or hearings. He noted that Labor Court President Adler retired early in order to allow Justice Arad to automatically replace him. He said this bill will put an end to the seniority clause which has corrupted the judges.

MK Horowitz (Meretz) slammed the bill and called it a personal bill tailor fitted to pave the way for Justice Grunis to become Supreme Court President. He blasted the bill as a politically motivated bill that shows the government is against the courts, the media, academia and culture. He slammed the government for trying to pave the way for other conservative judges to reach the bench by changing the makeup of the judicial selection committee.

MK Gal-On (Meretz) labeled the bill as a “price tag” Jewish terrorist act against the Supreme Court and democracy. She slammed the latest wave of legislation as anti-democratic and slammed the government for using their majority against the minority. She questioned if this is hunting season and if the next judge appointed will be a settler.

MK Swaid (Hadash) slammed the bill as anti-democratic and an attempt at a hostile take over of the Supreme Court. He said he rejects this attempt to politicize the Supreme Court and the attempt to make the Supreme Court more conservative. He said without a moderate Supreme Court Israel will become a fascist state.

MK Barakeh (Hadash) criticized other bills that he labeled as anti-democratic and racist instead of attacking this particular bill. He warned that Israel is heading towards a fascist dictatorship.

MK Khenin (Hadash) said that all personal bills should be rejected. He warned that many other bills are worse than this bill and Israel is losing its democracy and embracing racism. He warned that the government has declared war on democracy and the problem is not the right-wing back benchers but rather the Prime Minister. He admitted the best defense is a good offense and that is what Netanyahu is doing in order to save his seat. He warned the drizzling is over and the rain clouds are above us. He warned the government that Israel wants social justice. He said that democracy has made it a dangerous time for the government and now the government is making it a dangerous time for democracy.

MK Yoel Hasson (Kadima) said he doesn’t understand why Likud, which claims they are going to be in power for years, are in such a rush to pass all of these crazy bills. He said it would seem the way Likud is acting that they are about to call new elections since they are in such a hurry. He called on Israelis to band together and fight the most extreme government Israel has ever seen.

MK El-Sana (R.T.) stated that many were silent when the government went out against the Arabs since they never thought the government would go against them. He said since then the government has gone against the left and now against the Supreme Court and the press. He slammed MK Rotem and MK Ariel as extremists who are trying to push through conservative judges. He asked who will protect Israeli Arabs when the Supreme Court is taken over by the right.

MK Tibi (R.T.) mocked the achievement Foreign Minister Liberman boasted about when Liberman praising the 14 countries that supported Israel in the U.N. Tibi stressed that the world is still against Israel and noted that even Micronesia didn’t vote with Israel and instead chose to leave the room. He asked if the next candidate for the Supreme Court will be settler Itamar Ben-Gvir.

MK Agbaria (Hadash) cited a study that 48.3% of Arabs are found guilty compared to 33.6% of Jews and that Arabs receive longer sentences for the same crimes compared to Jews. He concluded that the court is already on life support and this bill will take the court off of life support and towards apartheid.

MK Ben Ari (N.U.) recalled that 21 years ago today he heard that an Al-Qaeda terrorist assassinated Rabbi Kahane. He recalled several cases where the Supreme Court ruled against Rabbi Kahane and ruled for terrorists such as Balad. Deputy Speaker Barakeh (Hadash) threw Ben Ari off the podium for what he called spreading lies. MK Ben Ari claimed freedom of expression and Barakeh told him to go sit down.

MK Shai (Kadima) slammed Katzeleh for calling all of the Supreme Court Justices secular leftist Tel Aviv Ashkenazim. He said that Israelis live together and Israelis support the Supreme Court. He called the National Union racists who are trying to divide the nation not unite it. He expressed his opposition to the bill.

MK Herzog (Labor) asked the public to wake up and oppose this government. He said he is proud of the Supreme Court and they should remain the strongest branch of government. He warned Katzeleh that circles are round and this bill will one day hurt the settlers.

MK Bar-On (Kadima) said that this bill isn’t such a big deal and that removing the seniority isn’t such a bad thing. He added that Justice Grunis is a great judge and he doesn’t see such a big difference between him and other justices. He said the problem is the atmosphere surrounding the bill and that is why he will vote against it. He slammed the government for choosing the small sectors of the coalition instead of looking out for the mainstream.

MK Molla (Kadima) slammed the government for supporting MK Ariel over MK Bar-On in the judicial selection committee and for appointing Justice Minister Neeman, who wasn’t democratically elected. He said the government is against the Supreme Court, the press and human rights groups. He called on Israelis to call for social justice and call for the resignation of Justice Minister Neeman.

MK Adatto (Kadima) said that the coalition is extending their boundaries since Netanyahu is allowing them to propose more extremist bills. She slammed the long list of bills she disagrees with because she sees them as anti-democratic.

MK Eichler (U.T.J.) said he doesn’t understand why a democracy would allow its courts to interfere with running the country and that the courts should focus on judging laws. He said that the Supreme Court has no place ruling on large issues like the Shalit deal or small issues like drivers licenses. He expressed his support for the bill.

MK Ariel (N.U.) said that there are 130 candidates for the current openings in the Supreme Court and he said that we should wait before we judge if certain justices are good or bad. He stressed that time tells all.

MK Absesadze (Kadima) called this another black week for Israeli democracy, which started in the Knesset, which is supposed to be the backbone of Israeli democracy. She said Katzeleh is acting like whoever isn’t with him is against him and that is wrong. She slammed the government for killing democracy, lynching democracy and practicing McCarthyism. She stated the first step is delegitimazing the left and the next step is making the left illegal.

MK Braverman (Labor) said that many around the world are asking if democracy will survive the latest economic struggles. He recalled how former Senator McCarthy almost killed America’s democracy and how Putin is killing Russia’s democracy. He said the government is outlawing certain leftist groups and leftist media in order to save themselves. He said that giving up on Israel’s democracy for the sake of the Likud primaries is a dangerous move and Netanyahu should stand up against it.

MK Itzik (Kadima) slammed the government for not having one achievement. She blasted Deputy Prime Minister Ya’alon for not acting like a true Kibbutznik and standing up against these anti-democratic bills. She warned that these are bills that can’t be repealed and something needs to be done before the damage is real.

MK Orbach (J.H.) told the opposition to stop overreacting. He said these are two bills that are not so important and that Israel’s democracy will not fall because of these bills. He said that he hasn’t found a difference between Likud and Kadima. He expressed support for the bill and said Justice Grunis is more qualified than Justice Naor.

MK Cabel (Labor) charged that Katzeleh was sent by the government to propose this bill. He recalled trying to fix it so that Barak would win the Labor leadership race and now Barak is hanging out with the Likud. He warned Katzeleh that he might regret this bill and that Grunis might turn out to be more left than Naor.

MK Ben Simon (Labor) said this bill isn’t dangerous or important but, together with other bills that have been passed over the last term, makes everything smell bad. He warned that the government is trying to change the face of Israeli society and is trying to move Israel further away from peace.

MK Teviaev (Kadima) said he recalls growing up in a dictatorship where when someone goes into a court it doesn’t matter if they are guilty, what matters is what the system thinks of you. He said he respects Katzeleh and doesn’t understand the motivation behind the bill. He asked if Likud is Danny Danon or Michael Eitan.

MK Danon (Likud) said the opposition wants the coalition to take sleeping pills and to ignore the agenda that the government was elected on. He recalled when the opposition kicked Jews out of their homes in the disengagement. He asked why that wasn’t anti-democratic. He said that if the opposition doesn’t like the bills they are welcome to repeal them when they are the majority.

MK Whbee (Kadima) recalled Katzeleh regretting supporting Netanyahu for Prime Minister. He said now Katzeleh is being duped by Netanyahu and has no clue what is going on.

MK Zeev (Shas) said that the opposition has forgotten what Zionism is. He stressed the amendment changes the situation back to how it was before 2007. He said this seniority experiment of the last four years has been a failure. He asked if a conservative justice will really bring an end to democracy. He answered that conservatives are not anti-democratic. He stated that no country has a “friend brings a friend” policy for the Supreme Court except Israel; rather, the other democracies either elect justices or have public hearings. He asked why Justice Grunis has been allowed to be a judge but isn’t allowed to be president. He answered it is probably because Grunis doesn’t follow the leftist elitist agenda and not because he isn’t qualified.

MK Elkin (Likud) said this amendment will repeal the 2007 amendment that was passed through by then Kadima Justice Minister Friedmann. He asked how this is an anti-democratic bill if it will return the Supreme Court to how it was for decades. He asked why the same MKs who voted against the 2007 amendment are now voting against repealing it. He answered the opposition cares more about the sponsor and less about what the bill actually says. He called on the opposition to stop acting like a yoyo and to take principled positions.

National Infrastructure Minister Landau (Y.B.) expressed government support for the bill and stressed the Supreme Court needs a root canal. He asked why it was okay for 1950 or 2006 but it isn’t okay for 2011. He went on to criticize the Supreme Court for about twenty minutes and pointed out certain cases of hypocrisies, particularly surrounding the disengagement. He concluded that the tycoons are the leftists in the media.

MK Katzeleh said he is hurt that they are calling the bill the Grunis Bill because it is called the Katzeleh Bill. He said that he thought of it himself and should get credit for it. He noted that there are 700,000 settlers and 400,000 Tel Avivans, yet there are no Supreme Court Justices from Judea and Samaria and all of the justices are from Tel Aviv. He concluded that in Judea and Samaria there is a 6% growth in Jewish population while in Tel Aviv there is a 5% growth of illegal gentile immigrants.

The bill passed its first reading 52-35 and was sent to the Justice Committee.

Amendment to the Selection of Bar Association Representatives to Judicial Appointment Committees Bill

MK Ilatov (Y.B.) explained his amendment would have the democratically elected Bar Association Chairman and the leader of the opposition of the Bar Association be selected as the two lawyer representatives to the judicial appointment committee. He rejected claims the bill is anti-democratic since the bill allows the democratically elected chairman and the opposition leader to both be represented.

Environment Minister Erdan (Likud) expressed government support for the bill. He defended the bill as super democratic and not personal.

MK Bar-On stressed that Justice Grunis is as qualified as Justice Naor but this bill is the problematic one. He warned the government is picking winners and losers in the bar association and is interfering in internal bar association matters which threatens the separation of the branches of government. He said that the six or seven largest law firms have between 170 and 200 lawyers and they have started a hostile takeover of the bar association thanks to the government redrawing the districts. He concluded by blaming Justice Minister Neeman as the mastermind behind the whole mess.

Speaker Rivlin announced he won’t vote on this bill.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 50-35 with two MKs abstaining and Speaker Rivlin not voting. It was sent to the House Committee to determine which committee will discuss the bill further.

Following the vote Speaker Rivlin threw out several MKs who chose to wave black flags to protest the result of the vote.

Amendment to the Banking Bill

MK Maklev (U.T.J.) explained his amendment is a customer service upgrade. He said it would oblige the bank to give notice to the customer before executing transactions or changing the terms of his bank account.

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

The bill passed its preliminary reading 17-0 and was sent to the Finance Committee.

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