The Knesset’s Wednesday session lasted about six hours. Twelve bills were discussed. Two bills were advanced after passing their preliminary readings, seven were defeated, one was turned into a motion and two were not voted on in order to avoid defeat. Seven motions were discussed. The bills advanced allow the splitting of an apartment into two in order to promote flooding the market with more apartments and allow customers who don’t use their technological device while overseas to roll their internet minutes or data to the month after they get back.

Non-Bills Summary

* Energy and Water Minister Landau (Y.B.), Housing and Construction Minister Atias (Shas), Interior Minister Yishai (Shas) and Deputy Finance Minister Cohen (Shas) answered urgent queries to start the session.

* Seven motions were discussed and sent to various Knesset committees for further discussion by the votes 8-0, 7-0, 6-0, 5-0, 5-0, 15-0 and 3-0.

Bills Summary

Amendment to the Bathing Places Bill


MK Zeev (Shas) explained his amendment would require the government to place lifeguards at ponds and streams of national parks and nature reserves. He stated many children and adults have been injured and some have died because there are no lifeguards in nature reserves and national parks. He said it is unacceptable that the country charges 25 shekels a person for entrance and provides entrance to ponds and streams that don’t have lifeguards. He asked where the money is going. He said posting a sign is not sufficient. He asked why the government would oppose the bill since the funding is directly connected to the entrance fees. He agreed to postpone the vote on the bill to a later time when he receives government support.

Amendment to the Telecommunications and Broadcasting Bill

MK Miller (Y.B.) explained his amendment would allow the accumulation of units of web browsing services when the customer is outside of Israel. He said this was the customer is allowed to use the units that were part of the plan when they return to Israel.

Communications Minister Kahlon (Likud) expressed government support for the bill.

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

Temporary Provision Amendment to the Planning and Building Bill

MK Eichler (U.T.J.) explained his amendment would allow the splitting of apartments of over 100 square meters into two apartments as long as each apartment has at least 35 square meters. He said the temporary provision would last five years until the government builds enough houses to meet the demand. He expressed hope this bill would help flood the market with many apartments.

Interior Minister Yishai expressed government support for the bill.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 23-0 and was sent to the Interior Committee.

Amendment to the Preventing Employment of Sex Offenders in Certain Institutions Bill

MK Naffaa (Balad) explained his amendment would prohibit the employment of a minor who is a sex offender in all educational institutions. He said there are 16 and 17 year olds who work at formal and informal educational institutions and his bill will make sure those hired aren’t sex offenders. He agreed to postpone the vote on the bill until he received government support.

Protecting Public Agencies’ Working Contracts’ Rights Bill/Motion

MK Khenin (Hadash) explained his original bill would prohibit hiring contracted workers through big consulting companies who pocket a big profit. He noted that in the public sector 50% of workers are contractors and they don’t receive the same rights as the other 50% who are employees. He listed the many rights that contracted workers would receive according to his bill that would result in the same exact rights as an employee.

Industry and Trade Minister Simhon (Independence) expressed government opposition to the bill on the grounds that the contracted workers’ rights were recently updated. He said some time must pass to see if there is a need to increase contracted workers’ rights, and perhaps the latest round of rights is the correct balance. He offered Khenin to turn the bill into a motion and if the committee decides to support the initiative he will support the bill at a later date.

MK Khenin warned that many contracted workers were not included in the latest round of benefits and his bill would apply to all contracted workers. He agreed to turn the bill into a motion.

The motion passed 49-0 and was sent to the Labor Committee.

Prohibiting Discrimination in Housing Bill

MK Gilon (Meretz) explained his original bill would prohibit the discrimination of all minority groups in real estate, whether it be for selling or renting. He said the fine would be NIS 150,000. He slammed the Mevaseret police for prohibiting an Ethiopian march protesting the discrimination of Ethiopians in Kiryat Melachi. He said this is the right time to pass this bill and send a message to Kiryat Melachi racists.

Homeland Security Minister Aharonovitch (Y.B.) expressed government opposition to the bill on the grounds that the bill is too extreme and calls for extreme punishment. He said the government is against racism, but this bill goes too far.

MK Gilon said if the government really supported the principle of the bill but disagreed with some of the details it could be passed in its preliminary reading and changed in committee before its first reading. He charged the government doesn’t care about this bill and has a racist policy. He called for a role call vote.

The bill was defeated 22-43.

Reporting Requirement for Financial Institutions’ Unclaimed Funds Bills

MK Sheetrit (Kadima) explained his original bill would require the banks to disclose on the internet the bank accounts of the NIS 15-20 billion that have been frozen for ten years or more in order to allow citizens to claim their inheritance. He slammed the banks for opposing this bill and trying to pocket the money that is not rightfully theirs. He reported his bill is law in many democratic countries. He blasted the government for opposing his bill in 2011 and asked them to sober up in 2012. He promised that if the government passes the bill in its preliminary reading, he won’t pursue it in the first reading unless he convinces the government it is a good idea.

Deputy Finance Minister Cohen (Shas) said the bill is unnecessary since the principle is already found in Israeli law under the power of the finance minister and the finance minister is going to implement the internet database soon.

MK Sheetrit said he doesn’t believe the website will be created without his bill passing. He said it is the public’s right to have the money they deserve. He said he will wait for six months in committee after the preliminary reading to see if the finance minister actually implements the internet database. He warned the government not to choose the big banks over the simple citizens.

The bill was defeated 17-40.

Amendment to the Chief Rabbinate Bill

MK Molla (Kadima) explained his amendment would require the inclusion of Keisim in the Chief Rabbinate’s electoral assembly. He asked the Knesset to stand with the Ethiopians today and support this bill over discrimination by the ultra orthodox. He said there are 60-70 Keisim who are the Rabbis of the Ethiopian community in Israel and they should be part of the spiritual leadership of the Israeli Rabbinate. He said despite the fact that former Chief Rabbi Goren said Ethiopians aren’t Jewish, they were still brought to Israel thanks to Chief Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef, and they should not be excluded from religious Judaism. He said this discrimination leads to Ethiopian riots in Kiryat Melachi.

Religious Affairs Minister Margi (Shas) expressed government opposition to the bill on the grounds that it would set a dangerous precedent to choose electoral assemblies by their country of origin. He said there is no rule preventing Keisim or Ethiopians from serving in the assembly, but they are not big enough at this time to have the votes needed to enter the assembly. He said the government supports Ethiopians but can’t support this bill.

MK Molla said giving 70 Keisim a salary without authority was stupid on the government’s part and they should be given authority within the assembly.

The bill was defeated 21-33.

Amendment to the Social Security Bill
MK Molla explained his amendment would increase the old age pensions, which would help a key demographic of poor Israelis. He stated the old built this country and deserve more than they are given, even if it will cost billions to the national budget. He said this bill is very logical.

Labor and Welfare Minister Kahlon (Likud) said the principle is worthy and just, but the budget cannot withstand such an increase. He said for a long time the old age pension was 16% and today it stands at 17.7%, but the country can’t jump to the 20% required in the bill. He said he gave NIS 11 million towards old peoples heating bills and he really wants to support this bill, but he can’t.

MK Molla said he sympathizes with Kahlon because the priority of this government is not for the elderly, rather for the big businesses. He promised to raise this bill for discussion every six months.

The bill was defeated 25-35.

Two Amendments to the Retirement Age Bill

MK Solodkin (Kadima) explained her amendment would lower the retirement age for women to 60 for three large groups that would include most of the women in the workforce.

MK Yachimovich (Labor) explained her similar amendment would lower the retirement age of all women to the age of 60. She went on to give a speech for the next ten minutes that resembled a campaign speech, with many fancy words, little substance and a lot of story telling.

Deputy Finance Minister Cohen expressed government opposition to the bills on the grounds that as humans live longer, the retirement age should be raised and not lowered. He said any actuary knows that it is a very dangerous financial move to accept such a bill and would cost the country billions of shekels. He said NIS 600 million is provided to a fund that assists women who retire in their 50s because of physical jobs that took a toll on their health.

The first bill was defeated 19-32.

The second bill was defeated 15-31.

Amendment to the Security Service Bill

MK Katzeleh (N.U.) explained his amendment would maintain freedom of religion in the army by allowing soldiers to follow any religious tradition or practice that is authorized by the army Chaplains. He said it is impossible to try to draft the ultra orthodox Jews into the army if they are asked to break Jewish law. He said the generals should allow the army rabbis the freedom to rule in Jewish matters and should respect the rabbis’ decisions and positions. He added that a soldier who refuses to hear a woman sing should be allowed to politely walk away from the performance without being disciplined. He warned if the army doesn’t go towards the religious, it can’t expect to draft the religious. He noted that within the next decade the religious Jews will make up a majority of Jewish births. He stated the government needs to look at how they can make life easier for them in the army, and not harder. He slammed the latest attempts to harm religion in the army and expressed hope it wouldn’t scare away religious soldiers. He said a free democratic country should protect freedom of religion. He said the generals should enter into a dialogue with the ultra orthodox rabbis and ask what they can do to encourage more religious Jews in the army. He concluded that Israel’s religious soldiers are asking for freedom.

Industry and Trade Minister Simhon expressed government opposition on the grounds that freedom of religion has limits, just like every other freedom. He said this bill will impair army discipline and allow soldiers to think for themselves more than necessary. He said army service is not a request but a duty, and soldiers will be forced to listen to female singers if that is what the army wants.

MK Katzeleh said orders must be followed, but common sense must be used as well. He said the current policy is keeping the ultra orthodox from the army and that is very sad.

The bill was defeated 2-19.


This was the Knesset Jeremy English translation protocol of the Knesset’s January 18, 2012, session.

Official protocol in Hebrew: