The Knesset’s Monday session lasted about seven hours. Seven bills were discussed. Four bills became law after passing their third readings, and three were advanced after passing their first readings. Following the defeat of the opposition’s no-confidence motions, the Knesset passed a bill that helps pave the way of Justice Grunis to the presidency of the Supreme Court. Other interesting bills were passed deeper into the night, such as a bill that forces terrorists released in prison swaps to serve the remainder of their term if they return to terror.

Non-Bills Summary

* Kadima’s no-confidence motion titled ‘The failure of the Netanyahu government in the political, economic and social sectors’ was defeated 43-55 with 22 MKs not present.

* Labor and Meretz’s joint no-confidence motion titled ‘Mismanagement of foreign affairs, international status damaged by ruining key relationships with friends of Israel and deepening its isolation in the world’ was defeated 37-56 with one MK abstaining and 26 MKs not present.

* Hadash, Ra’am-Ta’al and Balad’s joint no-confidence motion titled ‘Government policy increasing the social gaps’ was defeated 31-57 with 32 MKs not present.

* MK Levi-Abekasis announced the Labor, Welfare and Health Committee seeks to split a bill into two. It was approved by an 8-0 vote.


Bills Summary

Amendment to the Courts Bill

Speaker Rivlin thanked the opposition for removing their planned 18-hour filibuster of the ‘Grunis Bill’. He announced the coalition and opposition have agreed on a four hour discussion instead.

Justice, Law and Constitution Committee Chairman Rotem (Y.B.) announced that MK Katzeleh’s (N.U.) amendment will repeal the controversial 2007 amendment, passed by then Justice Minister Friedman, that prohibits a Supreme Court Justice 67 years old or older from being appointed Supreme Court President.

Opposition Leader Livni stated that she doesn’t discuss legislation from the podium often. She blasted the bill as undemocratic and a retroactive personal bill aimed at picking the next Supreme Court President. She charged that Netanyahu doesn’t know what democracy really is. She attacked Netanyahu, Rotem and the government for advancing this bill. She announced in English, ‘it’s not done’. She spent most of her ten minute speech slamming a different bill that would change how bar association members are appointed to the judicial selection committee. She compared Netanyahu to a dictator who cares more about being the leader, much more than leading.

MK Yoel Hasson (Kadima) said that he was disgusted that people who weren’t participants in the committee discussions show up a minute before the vote on a bill they haven’t even read. He said that all of the opposition’s suggestions were written in the protocol and no one else heard them. He said that the coalition is so strong that all of the opposition’s speeches tonight won’t do anything either. He appealed instead to the viewers of the Knesset debate and complained that the coalition is engaging in dangerous legislation that is changing the rules for the courts, journalists, activists and academics. He called the government anti-democratic and said it is flooding Israeli society with a tsunami of anti-democratic bills. He called on the press to be brave and keep reporting the extremist governments crimes. He lectured to the Israeli people not to give up on their freedom and to support the opposition.

MK Bielski (Kadima) said that he refused to switch the table of the desk of his Ra’anana mayor’s office because he didn’t want to feel that the desk was his own. He said it is important for elected officials to remember they are public servants. He credited MK Elkin’s defection from Kadima to Likud with turning the coalition into a finely oiled machine. He stated there is no serious opposition in the Likud to Netanyahu and he will easily win re-election. He slammed the bill as a dirty agreement among corrupt people and parties. He called on the government to be moderate and to accept some of the opposition’s requests.

MK Shai (Kadima) called today a black day for Israeli democracy. He talked about his event with his 100 journalist friends where they discussed the government’ attack on Israel’s free press and democracy. He said that if he loses the vote, it doesn’t mean he is wrong. He said that democracy is not about the majority controlling the minority, it is about the majority protecting the minority. He slammed the government for their twisted outlook on democracy and told them to save Channel 10. He charged that Israeli citizens are outraged by the government’s legislation and they will pay for it in the ballot box. He said that the late Prime Minister Begin would have been against this bill.

MK Molla (Kadima) condemned the attack of a ultra-orthodox girl by secular kids earlier in the day. He quoted MK Katzeleh from a paper of last year where he said the goal of the bill is to change the Tel Avivian elitist dictatorship through a Grunis administration. Molla asked if we are public officials or coalition officials. He asked how Katzeleh can blast Netanyahu from the opposition and the result is that the coalition passes one of his bills. He called on adopting a presidential system similar to that of the United States to ensure the protection of Israel’s democracy. He said that personal bills are bad and destroying Israeli democracy. He called Justice Minister Neeman corrupt and said Neeman was Foreign Minister Liberman’s messenger.

MK Whbee (Kadima) recalled two and a half years ago when Katzeleh nominated Netanyahu for Prime Minister and within weeks how much Katzeleh regretted that decision. He asked Katzeleh to ponder that. He noted that Rotem and Yisrael Beitenu voted for the 2007 amendment, finding it curious they would want to repeal it in 2012. He charged that this bill harms Israeli democracy and makes today a black day. He charged that Finance Committee Chairman Shama (Likud) is shutting down Channel 10 on purpose and is doing Netanyahu’s bidding. He said that Katzeleh is not even getting credit for the bill and instead Shas and UTJ are.

MK Khenin (Hadash) explained he opposed the personal 2007 Friedman amendment and he opposes the personal repeal for the purpose of helping Justice Grunis and hurting Justice Naor. He went on to slam the planned change to the bar association, a month after the elections. He said these bills are immoral and must be stopped. He slammed MK Ariel’s (N.U.) spot on the judicial selection committee and suggested submitting a bill to change that.

MK Yisrael Hasson (Kadima) talked about a leadership convention he attended. He spoke about his legislation initiative that would prevent the 38.7% of female soldiers from pretending to be religious in order to get out of military service. He said that the 96% of women getting out of their military service by a fax should be prevented from doing so. He slammed the government bill, which he called illogical, and asked Deputy Speaker Akunis (Likud) and Katzeleh to help promote his bill. He noted that 52% of first graders are not in Zionistic schools and a solution must be found soon. He slammed the government for manipulating him and his logical bill.

MK Barakeh (Hadash) said that as someone who opposed the 2007 amendment he would have supported repealing the amendment if it wasn’t being repealed retroactively in order to support Grunis’ candidacy. He slammed the capitalistic government which, he said, leads to a fascist extremist anti-democratic government.

MK Agbaria (Hadash) suggested that Katzeleh is preparing his run for Prime Minister and is starting to position his soldiers in the right places before elections. He charged that it is obvious that there is a corrupt bargain struck between Grunis and Katzeleh. He said that he has noticed how settlers have been appointed to high positions in government, the police and the military. He noted that the settler and religious demographics are growing at a higher speed and Katzeleh is preparing the ground for his run for Prime Minister.

MK Abesadze (Kadima) said she is against personal bills. She went on to quote Menachem Begin and said that he would be against this bill. She warned that this extremism is leading to the exclusion of women from society and will eventually prohibit women from politics. She claimed there is a lack of democracy in the government. She charged that the government is silencing the media. Katzeleh interrupted and noted it was the liberal government that shut down Arutz Sheva and jailed him.

MK Swaid (Hadash) slammed the personal bill. He said that Katzeleh is trying to pull a Newt Gingrich by having the legislators stamp the judges rulings, as opposed to the other way around. He went on to slam the occupation.

MK Tibi (R.T.) congratulated Katzeleh for being stubborn and fighting for his conservative justice’s quest to become Supreme Court President. He asked why Katzeleh doesn’t like Justice Miriam Naor and why he wished to keep her from the presidency. He said that Katzeleh’s determination led to a victory. He said no one really understands how one man, an opposition MK and a fascist, can change the face of the Supreme Court presidency. Katzeleh interrupted and noted that current Supreme Court President Beinisch supports the bill. Tibi fired back that Naor should be the next president.

MK El-Sana (R.T.) said that the Israeli Supreme Court violated international law and gave legitimacy to the settlements and the occupation. He charged that after tonight’s vote Israel can no longer claim to be a democratic country, since the Supreme Court President is elected by the parliament’s majority. He said that Israel grows closer to Syria every day, a country that claims to be a democracy, when everyone knows it is a dictatorship. He said the appointment of settler Justice Solberg is the rubber stamp of killing the legitimacy of the Supreme Court and acts as an assassination of the system as we once knew it.

MK Cabel (Labor) told Katzeleh and Rotem that their attempts to change the outcome of the Supreme Court and who leads it will come around like a boomerang and hurt them. He said that he can’t recall another time when Israeli democracy was at an all time low. He stated he is a moderate and doesn’t usually say such things. He said committee discussion is no more, it is just sides of coalition versus opposition. He warned that lines have been crossed that can’t be undone and tonight another one is being crossed.

MK Herzog (Labor) said that even the legal advisers of the Knesset committees are against all of these anti-Supreme Court bills. He said this conduct of passing all of these retroactive bills is problematic and shows the coalition cares nothing about democracy.

Culture and Sport Minister Livnat (Likud) announced that the she is among the many ministers who are against the Bar Association Bill but that she fully supports this bill. She noted that this bill is repealing a 2007 personal retroactive bill that was meant to prevent Justice Grunis from being appointed president in favor of Justice Naor. She said that no other country can claim a 4.8% economic growth with less than  5% unemployment. She said that she can’t recall another time like this in Israel’s history.

MK Braverman (Labor) said that this is the worst parliament Israel has ever seen. He said it is dangerous when the majority rules the minority and doesn’t care for the minority. He said the elitists are the important part of Israeli society and must be maintained. He told Livnat that liars figure and figures lie. He expressed his support of the American battle of the 99% against the 1%. He concluded by quoting Menachem Begin.

MK Majadele (Labor) told MK Rotem and MK Katzeleh that this bill embarrasses every democratic country. He called Katzeleh an elephant that is hiding behind a mouse. He said he heard that many Likud ministers were against this bill but he can’t find them. He asked where they were when the other racist bills were passed. He said that what was done to the Jewish people for 2,000 years in exile is now being done by the Jews in their own land.

MK Ben Simon (Labor) said that the movement to discredit the elitist Supreme Court, elitist media, elitist socialists and the elitist academia started with Netanyahu’s first term in 1996. He said that Begin, Shamir and Sharon never would have allowed any of this to happen. He said instead the Likud is supporting the extremist National Union.

MK Gal-On (Meretz) said that she would have supported the repeal if it wasn’t retroactive and it wasn’t Katzeleh’s bill. She charged that there is a right wing activism against the Supreme Court. She said there is an unholy agreement between Liberman and the settlers, who both seek revenge on the previous Supreme Court. She said that Katzeleh is a disgrace and it is unacceptable that he is trying to end judicial activism through a Grunis presidency, with the surprising support of the coalition. She charged that Katzeleh is avenging his Arutz Sheva empire that was badly damaged by the Supreme Court, which also threw him in jail. She said that Katzeleh isn’t even ashamed to promote his bill to the media and slam the current system.

MK Gilon (Meretz) charged that Katzeleh is building an illegal outpost within Israeli law with this bill. He said that Katzeleh’s plan is to appoint many settlers to the Supreme Court, where the reality shows “Survivor” and “Big Brother” rule.

MK Horowitz (Meretz) said the problem with a problematic personal bill is that it can’t be just. He questioned why Katzeleh is proud of this bill. He said the timing of the bill is problematic and is undermining the trust of the public in the Supreme Court.

MK Zahalka (Balad) charged that the Likud seeks to control the Supreme Court. He said the government is crossing the lines of acceptable parliamentary conduct with this and other retroactive bills. He quoted President Nixon’s Vice President Spiro Agnew’s opposition to changing the rules in the middle of the game. He noted that former Egyptian President Mubarak attempted for 30 years to change the Egyptian Supreme Court, and Katzeleh is able to accomplish what Mubarak didn’t. He slammed MK Zeev (Shas) for heckling him and for trying to paint himself as an anti-Arab racist MK. He said that the Supreme Court will no longer be liberal and will now have a conservative face.

MK Katzeleh (N.U.) agreed there is disagreement and debate in the Israeli public on the role and makeup of the Supreme Court. He quoted liberal Professor Meni Mantor, who criticizes the Supreme Court’s decision to revoke Israeli laws and said it has led to the delegitimizing of the courts and current system. He slammed the opposition MKs who attempted to hang him over the past few hours. He responded that because of 41 days and Beinisch’s refusal to retire 41 days early, Grunis was going to spend almost three years under Naor, who is younger than him. He quoted from Ha’aretz, which he called the home field court paper for the Tel Aviv elite, which blasted the bill. He called on the Knesset to support the bill.

Chairman Rotem said he understands why Kadima is against repealing the 2007 Justice Minister Friedman amendment they passed. He quoted former Meretz leader Yossi Beilin’s 2007 speech calling on the Knesset to repeal this amendment as soon as possible. He quoted MK Khenin who said the same thing. He called on the opposition to follow Beilin and Khenin.

The bill’s paragraphs were approved 55-37, 56-36 and 56-37.

The objections to the bill were defeated 37-55, 13-75, 37-56, 36-56, 35-57, 37-57 and one by a raise of hands. Other objections were withdrawn.

The bill passed its third reading 57-37.

Two Temporary Amendments to the Defense Service Bill

Deputy Prime Minister Ya’alon (Likud) explained the amendment would extend the temporary amendment that places army veterans in the prison service through the end of 2015 for the purpose of dealing with security prisoners.

MK Eichler (U.T.J.) supported the bill. He went on to condemn the press’ incitement against the ultra-orthodox, which has led to violence against the ultra-orthodox community, and called it anti-Semitism. He slammed Finance Minister Steinitz (Likud) for saying that anyone who has more than eight children is irresponsible. He recalled when Ben Gurion gave awards to anyone who had more than ten children and that former Foreign Minister David Levy (Likud, Labor, Gesher) has 12. He asked if David Levy is irresponsible.

The first bill passed its first reading 20-1 and was sent to the House Committee to determine which committee will discuss the bill further.

Deputy Prime Minister Ya’alon announced the amendment would extend a temporary order in the defense service for another year.

The second bill passed its first reading 18-2 and was sent to the Defense Committee.

Amendment to the Penal Code Bill

Justice, Law and Constitution Committee Chairman Rotem explained the amendment would determine how judges decide the penalty for breaking the law. He said that it is important to decide in which cases the minimum penalty should be used and in which cases the maximum penalty should be used and this bill sets specific tables for determining such cases. He noted that the bill will take effect in six months. He expressed pride on the balance his committee brought to the final version after 22 committee meetings.

The bill passed its second reading 14-0.
The bill passed its third reading 13-0.

Amendment to the Courts Bill

Justice, Law and Constitution Committee Chairman Rotem explained the amendment would help make the caseload of the courts easier and more efficient by allowing certain cases to be transferred to courts that have a smaller caseload.

The bill passed its second reading 15-0.
The bill passed its third reading 16-0.


Amendment to the Terms of Probation Bill

Justice, Law and Constitution Committee Chairman Rotem explained his amendment would force those who are released by a presidential pardon and then commit the same crime at a later date to serve the remainder of the first sentence they had received prior to the pardon in addition to their second sentence. He added that this amendment extends to security prisoners and foreigners as well.

The bill passed its second reading 16-0.
The bill passed its third reading 16-0.

MK Danon (Likud) thanked the Knesset for approving his bill. He said that terrorists who get out of jail early in prisoner swaps and return to terror should serve the rest of their first sentence before serving the sentence for their second crime.

Amendment to the Social Security Bill

Deputy Prime Minister Ya’alon explained his amendment would fund the development of services for children at risk.

The bill passed its first reading 9-0 and was sent to the Welfare Committee.


This was the Knesset Jeremy English translation protocol of the Knesset’s January 2, 2012, session.

Official protocol in Hebrew: