The Knesset’s Tuesday session lasted about four hours. Five bills were advanced after passing their first readings. The relatively busy Tuesday session included legislation on cell phone cancellation fines, whistleblowers’ espionage, discrimination of pregnant woman and reserve soldiers in the work place, standardized pharmacy exams, and maternity benefits in cases of long infant hospital stays. A motion honoring the deaf was also discussed.

Non-Bills Summary

* 21 MKs spoke during the one minute speech segment that opened the day. The main topic was the Grunis Bill that passed the previous night. Bureaucracy Minister Eitan (Likud) responded to some of the speeches.

* A motion on International Listening Day was discussed by six MKs and Minister Eitan. The motion was not voted on.

Bills Summary

Amendment to the Telecommunications and Broadcasting Bill

Finance Committee Chairman Shama (Likud) explained his amendment would prohibit cell phone companies from charging cancellation fines. He said that fines are for criminals, not for consumers who choose to move to a better service. He said that a previous amendment outlawed the cancellation fines for cable and television and this is the next step. He said this amendment will create a free market for consumers and allow them to change from company to company at their leisure. He said that the cell phone companies have already tried to find a loophole by transferring the cancellation fees to the phone device and not the service. He assured the cell phone companies that he will close that loophole before the second reading of the bill. He called the cell phone companies monsters and told them that the celebration is over.

MK Eichler (U.T.J.) noted other loopholes that should be closed in committee meetings. He told the story of Max Noradu, who joined the Zionist movement after an encounter with an ultra-orthodox child in Paris.

MK Ben Ari (N.U.) supported the important bill. He said that consumers should understand that there is a lot of garbage for sale and they should stop buying it.

MK Majadele (Labor) said that this bill comes 3-4 years too late. He called on the MKs to solve problems when they occur, not after years of complaining.

MK Zeev (Shas) said that three year contracts for cell phone devices are ridiculous and that some marriages don’t last that long. He called on the cell phone companies to wake up and change their ways before additional legislation is targeted at them.

MK Tibi (R.T.) supported Shama’s bill and blasted the cell phone companies.

The bill passed its first reading 12-0 and was sent to the Finance Committee.

Amendment to the Penal Code Bill

MK Schneller (Kadima) explained his amendment would change provisions regarding espionage for those who whistleblow instead of handing information to enemies. He said the amendment creates a new provision that gives a whistleblower to a newspaper a shorter sentence than those who are labeled enemies of the state. He agreed with the label of the “Anat Kam Bill” since this bill deals with situations like hers.

MK Eichler listed a number of attacks on ultra-orthodox Jews by secular Jews. He slammed the press for their incitement against the community he represents. He called on the press to stop buying into the Reform Judaism garbage. He slammed the attempted delegitimizing of the ultra-orthodox.

MK Ariel (N.U.) agreed with Eichler that there is incitement from the press against the ultra-orthodox. He supported the Penal Code amendment. He went on to slam the arrest of six settlers for espionage because they tried to prevent the dismantling of an outpost through a phone call. Ariel confessed that he is a spy doing the same exact thing and said he would lift his immunity in order to stand trial.

MK Ben Ari agreed with Eichler and Ariel that there is incitement from the press against the ultra-orthodox. He slammed the arrest of the six setters and also revealed that he makes the same phone calls and sends text messages. He said that apparently freedom of expression is not given to settlers.

MK Zeev supported the bill and said if this bill had been passed earlier it would have put Anat Kam away for many more years. He charged that military whistleblowers hate the country and should be sent to jail for a long time. He suggested jailing the journalists who publish confidential documents as well.

The bill passed its first reading 12-0 and was sent to the Justice Committee.

Amendment to the Employment Services Bill

MK Shai (Kadima) explained the amendment would extend the prohibition of discrimination to pregnant women, reserve soldiers and workers with related issues.

MK Eichler said he supported the bill but slammed Shai for leaving out discrimination of ultra-orthodox Jews. He explained that he is for a free press but he is against a free press that misuses that power to incite against minorities. He recalled his background as a journalist and stressed he never incited against the secular population. He slammed Professor Trachtenberg for inciting against the ultra-orthodox.

MK Ariel said it is a worthy bill and he will support it. He went on to criticize the government for not doing enough for the disengagement’s victims who stand at an alarming 20% unemployment. He asked the MKs to come up with solutions for these people.

MK Ben Ari slammed the academia and Supreme Court who discriminate against anyone who isn’t a Tel Aviv Ashkenazi elitist, calling them aristocrats. He asked how 210 of the 220 professors in academia are Ashkenazi Jews or Arabs. He added that he was one of eleven Sephardi Jew professors before entering the Knesset. He said that there are a lot of companies that discriminate against those who can’t work on the Sabbath.

MK Whbee (Kadima) supported the bill. He went on to discuss the poor public transportation system in the Galil Druze villages and how the Druze are discriminated against by potential employers.

MK Zeev said that many people are fired every year because they refuse to work on the Sabbath. He called on Shai to add religious Jews to his bill.

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

Amendment to the Pharmacist Ordinance Bill

MK Eldad (N.U.) slammed the arrest of the six settlers. He explained the amendment would force Israeli pharmacists to take the pharmacy licensing examination that is required from those who don’t learn in Israeli schools. He said that all Israeli pharmacists should take the standardized test and it is unacceptable that only certain pharmacists need to.

The bill passed its first reading 7-0 and was sent to the Health Committee.

Amendment to the Employment of Women Bill

MK Levi-Abekasis (Y.B.) charged that her bills are always at the end of the night because someone thinks that it will help the Knesset channel ratings. She explained the amendment would extend the allowed maternity leave for up to three months in the event of hospitalization of a newborn. She said this is an important bill and she is disappointed that no other female MK is here to support it.

MK Whbee supported the bill and thanked Levi-Abekasis for delivering it.

The bill passed its first reading 6-0 and was sent to the Welfare Committee.

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This was the Knesset Jeremy English translation protocol of the Knesset’s January 3, 2012, session.

Official protocol in Hebrew: http://www.knesset.gov.il/plenum/data/00100012.doc

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