The Knesset’s Monday session lasted about eight and a half hours, ending early Tuesday morning. Nine bills were discussed. Four bills became law after passing their third readings, and five were advanced after passing their first readings. The four National Union MKs filibustered most of the night away on two bills that authorize sending 1,850 mandatory draftees to the police and 1,300 mandatory draftees to the prison service. The government survived the weekly no-confidence motions.

Non-Bills Summary

* Kadima’s no-confidence motion titled ‘The Netanyahu government has increased the burden on the middle class and has raised again the prices of fuel, electricity, water and property taxes’ was defeated 36-52 with 32 MKs not present.

* Labor and Meretz’s joint no-confidence motion titled ‘The Netanyahu government’s failure in the political, economic and social sectors’ was defeated 34-52 with 34 MKs not present.

* Hadash, Ra’am-Ta’al and Balad’s joint no-confidence motion titled ‘The government’s incompetence in the ongoing housing shortage with no solutions, many programs and few actions’ was defeated 26-53 with 41 MKs not present.

Bills Summary

Amendment to the Regional Councils Bill

Interior and Environment Committee Chairman Cohen (Shas) explained the amendment would merge the date of regional councils’ general elections from two separate dates into one date. He said the date will be every five years on the third Tuesday in the Jewish month of Tevet. He said there will be a process that merges the two dates into one and the process will have the dates meet on May 29, 2018. He added the amendment would also change the way absentee soldiers vote.

The bill passed its second reading 31-0.

The bill passed its third reading 25-0.

Amendment to the Military Justice Bill

MK Matalon (Y.B.) explained the amendment would not exclude drug crimes and AWOL crimes from a soldier’s personal record when he becomes a veteran. He said that many soldiers find it hard to get a job when their potential employers find one these two crimes on their record. He said the bill will take effect on April 4.

The bill passed its second reading 21-1.

The bill passed its third reading 18-1.

Amendment to the Defense Service Bill

MK Matalon explained that since 1986 the police have been able to enlist mandatory draftees instead of them serving in the army. It has been a temporary provision since 1995 and has been extended dozens of times, each time increasing the number of citizens serving in the police force instead of their military service. He stressed that the policemen receive the same rights as their military counterparts. He noted that in 2010 a multi-ministerial committee decided that mandatory draftees shouldn’t serve in the police because they are being used as a cheap labor force that fill the least productive positions and have become more like contracted workers that are filling the needs of a lean police workforce. He reported that Police Chief Danino and Finance Minister Steinitz (Likud) asked the government to keep sending mandatory draftees into the police because of the shortage of manpower. He announced the compromise will be that the temporary amendment will be extended until the end of 2015 and the number of mandatory draftees serving in the police will be gradually lowered from 1,850 to 1,600. He asked the Knesset to defeat the opposition’s objections.

MK Eldad (N.U.) said it is unacceptable to take mandatory draftees meant for the army and to send them to the police. He said that during the first intifada female soldiers were sent to be security guards in public areas such as cinemas and coffee houses. He stated that the government eventually forced the private companies to place their own guards at the entrances in public areas. He reported that the second intifada led to another wave of increasing the number of policemen that were supposed to be soldiers. He said the police have become a cheap workforce since a large percentage of policemen are mandatory draftees. He agreed that the police are important but he asked why are we sending mandatory draftees to the police instead of sending to them to be firefighters, ambulance medics, lifeguards or counselors at shelters for battered women. He said other things are important too. He stated the motive behind this bill is to save money because a policeman makes NIS 6,000 a month and a mandatory draftee policeman makes NIS 350 a month. He said it is the job of the police to prevent burglaries and it is the job of mandatory draftees to protect Israel from her enemies. He slammed the bill for being retroactive since the latest temporary amendment expired more than a month ago. He said the government should have respect for the law.

MK Katzeleh (N.U.) said he supports the measure for everyone to serve in the army or national service. He asked why the government wants to draft the ultra-orthodox if they have run out of room in the army for their soldiers and have started to spread them out to other places. He suggested ending the mandatory draft since the army has reached full capacity. He listed the laws of army exemptions taught in the Torah. He said Israel’s army should be filled with heroes and they should be paid good money. He asked what the army would do with 8,000 ultra-orthodox soldiers, and if they could pay for each one’s supplies. He asked if the government could afford to buy each soldier three pairs of shoes, pay their NIS 350 salaries, buy uniforms and so on. He suggested that making the army voluntary would increase the number of ultra-orthodox soldiers if good money was involved. He noted that in 2000 there were 90,000 births in Israel and in 2011 there were 118,000. He charged that the army can’t deal with the large number of soldiers they want to enlist, which is why they are sending them off to the police.

MK Ben Ari (N.U.) said he isn’t against the police, he is for the police. He said that soldiers are built from a different material and have a different mentality. He said they serve a different purpose and are from separate worlds. He said the army is meant to defend Israel’s borders and the police are meant to protect within Israel’s borders. He recalled when the army evicted Jews from their homes in Gush Katif and slammed them for using their uniforms and wearing the Israeli flag for a mission that wasn’t a military mission. He blasted the government for sending 60,000 soldiers for that mission. He said that during war there is no place for humanitarianism or showing mercy, and that can’t be taught to someone who goes to the police. He said this bill teaches the youth to fight for a place in the police, mossad or shabak instead of serving with their brothers in the army. He said he understands that the government is trying to save money but some things are not worth it. He blasted the message we are sending to our children by turning the police into a cheap labor force. He said that we teach our children to love the army and this bill is tearing it up by telling them they have other options.

The planned filibuster ended at the 35 minute mark because MK Ariel (N.U.) was not in the room to take his turn.

Homeland Security Minister Aharonovitch (Y.B.) said he agreed the police need more regular policemen but explained the government is only giving him mandatory draftees and he needs to take what he can get. He said mandatory draftees are sent to the department of defense, mossad, shabak, prison service and border police, and he is allowed to ask the police to receive its share too. He said the 1,860 mandatory draftees serving in the police are doing a great job and asked the Knesset to defeat the objections.

Speaker Rivlin announced he wouldn’t allow the Knesset to vote on the 1,850 objections on the bill and would instead vote on 18 objections. He said that common sense shows that if objection 100 isn’t accepted and objection 200 isn’t accepted that objections 101-199 would not have been accepted. He said that if objection 200 is accepted, he will go back to vote on objection 101 and so forth. He said he will be using his power as Speaker to go against the Knesset protocol. He also refused to discuss this matter before the next bill which has the same issue.

MK Eldad said that each objection represents each soldier that is being sent to the police and that the Knesset’s legal adviser agrees that Knesset protocol forces the Speaker to allow the 1,850 votes to take place. He added that disagreements like this cannot be solved by the Speaker and must be resolved in the House Committee. He stressed it is troubling the Speaker won’t follow the Knesset protocol when he is the one who is meant to safeguard it. He asked the Speaker to talk with him before the next bill which has a similar arrangement.

MK Ariel (N.U.) suggested Rivlin postpone the vote and spend ten minutes discussing the issue behind closed doors. Rivlin refused.

The bill’s paragraphs were passed in their second readings 24-2, 24-3 and 24-4.

The objections were defeated 2-26, 2-26, 2-26, 3-20 and 3-22. Other objections were defeated by a show of hands.

The bill passed its third reading 25-3.

Amendment to the Security Service Bill

MK Matalon announced that in 2005 the government transferred the responsibilities of the three security prisons that deal with terrorists- Megido, Ofer and Kesiot- from the military to the prison service. He said because the prison service did not have enough manpower soldiers were allowed to be transferred to the prison service as part of a temporary amendment in 2005. He noted these
mandatory draftees receive the same benefits as regular soldiers. He explained this retroactive bill would allow mandatory draftees to serve in the prison service instead of army from the beginning of 2012 and extend the temporary amendment until the end of 2015. He concluded 1,300 mandatory draftees will serve in the prison service.

MK Eldad slammed Speaker Rivlin’s handling of the last bill’s voting, which he said resembled a public auction. He said no one is claiming the prison service doesn’t have enough guards. Rather, this measure will allow the prison service to use mandatory draftees as a cheap labor force. He said that if we are going to send mandatory draftees to other places, why not make them coast guards. He went on to list his 18 objections. He said the first will turn the temporary amendment into a mandatory amendment that will last until the messiah is reborn. He went back to slamming Speaker Rivlin for acting against the Knesset protocol and clumping objections into collections of one hundred. He said that this is a dangerous precedent. He said that each shekel looks like the other shekel, but each soldier doesn’t look like the next soldier and shouldn’t be treated as such. He explained that another one of his objections deals with sending mandatory draftees to serve as lifeguards in the winter. He noted over 60 Israelis drown every year, more than the number killed in terrorist attacks. He suggested the government is against the idea since they don’t pay the salaries of lifeguards and the move wouldn’t save the government money. He announced another objection would send mandatory draftees to serve as firefighters, which is good timing following the Carmel fire fiasco. He stated another objection would send mandatory draftees to Magen David Adom to serve as paramedics in ambulances. He went on to slam Magen David Adom for selling their souls to join the Red Cross and decided to pull that objection.

He explained many other objections to the bill, which would:
· Send mandatory draftees to protect shelters for battered women.
· Send mandatory draftees to work as security guards on buses, in coffee houses, in soccer stadiums and other places.
· Only place a mandatory draftee into the prison service if the draftee wanted to so that they wouldn’t be taking away mandatory draftees who really want to be soldiers.
· Require the mandatory draftees to be paid as regular prison service employees. He suggested the government’s opposition to this objection shows the government’s true face and proves the only reason they want this bill is to have a cheap workforce.
· Require those who stay in the prison service after their mandatory three years to be allowed to count their mandatory service as part of their seniority and benefit package.
· Enable the mandatory draftees who serve in the prison service to receive full psychiatric care and additional compensation.
· Allow a mandatory draftee serving in the prisons to have additional vacation days.
· Allow the prison service draftees to wear a military uniform during their vacation days.
· Force the prison service to place the religious mandatory draftees in the torah sections of the jail and prevent them from being within earshot of female prisoners.
· Allow mandatory draftees to write graffiti on the bathroom walls.
· Allow mandatory draftees to have three years written off from a jail sentence if they decide to join a life of crime after meeting criminals in the joint, as well as allowing them to serve as MKs.

He concluded that the youth don’t grow up dreaming of being a prison guard; rather, they dream of being a soldier. Then he read a poem.

MK Katzeleh praised MK Eldad for leading the effort. He slammed the government for passing this bill aggressively. He agreed with Deputy Speaker Molla (Kadima) that the mandatory draftees should be on the southern border stopping illegal immigrants instead of serving as jailers. He said that jailers have a tough job and he really appreciates the work they do and the work shouldn’t be cheapened by finding a cheap workforce to replace them. He went on to list the many nations who tried to wipe Israel off the face of the earth and how the Jewish people survived because of their thirst for the land of Israel. He said what it means to be Israeli today, to him, is stressing the importance of the land of Israel, being a religious Jew and being a part of the Jewish nation. He said when he is named Defense Minister he will change the name of the army from Israel Defense Forces to Israel Attack Forces. Speaker Rivlin said we never attacked anyone. Katzeleh responded that there are many War Ministers and for some reason in Israel it is Defense Minister. He took a break to point out that he really respects Minister Eitan (Likud), who once spoke for 11 straight hours. He went on to share passages of Torah about the Israeli armies. He said the Tal Law is working because each year the ultra-orthodox enlistment rate grows and eventually they will be leading the elite units. He took another break to ask the public to say prayers for the health of Rabbi Elyashiv, who is very sick. He remembered how he was among the first religious soldiers to be in an elite unit and become an officer. He listed the names of the first religious officers of elite units from the early 1970’s and said one day the ultra-orthodox will serve in that capacity in the future.

MK Ariel said the government has turned the army into a contractor service that hands out soldiers to areas where the government feels they can utilize a cheap workforce and save money. He noted instead of extending it for six months or a year, this time they chose to extend it for three years. He slammed the government for taking the Judea and Samaria settlements off of the preferred housing list and slammed Shas in particular for leading the move. He said the government repealing their own decision a few days later shows it is a weak government. He slammed Magen David Adom for deciding to change their operations in Judea and Samaria. He blasted the government for freezing a great majority of Judea and Samaria’s settlement growth. He attacked Netanyahu’s Bar Ilan speech. He told the nationalistic prime minister, ministers and coalition members they should start acting nationalistic.

MK Ben Ari said this bill hurts the army more than it helps the prison service. He went on to discuss great battles that occurred during Jewish history, mostly during the period of the second temple. He went on to quote David Ben Gurion, who told the Etzel and Lechi that history will not judge him because he will be the one who writes the history books. He went on to slam journalists like Haaretz’s Gidon Levi who are not historians and who spread lies. He spent about an hour tearing apart Yosefus’ and other Romans’ historical records. Deputy Speaker Vaknin (Shas) argued with Ben Ari every time he had a conflict with Ben Ari’s position and Torah tradition. He concluded soldiers should stay in the army and not be sent to other places.

MK Eldad thanked Ben Ari for his interesting history lesson. He went on to say he is protecting the army by submitting all of these objections. He quoted Jewish poets from over the years who dreamed of serving in an Israeli army for almost two thousand years. He said that paying mandatory draftees NIS 350 a month is a way for the government to get around the Supreme Court’s decision to prohibit the privatization of the Prison Service. He read the original Security Service bill as passed by Prime Minister Ben Gurion in 1949 and noted there is no place for policemen or prison service in the bill; however, there is a place that allows the mandatory draftees to be trained in agriculture. He said that he is against sending mandatory draftees to other places like being secretaries in the department of defense or other areas, which takes away good jobs meant for civilians. He went on to list the objections that he had for the previous bill that would also apply for this bill. He added the objection that a mandatory draftee serving in prison should be allowed to get a university degree during their service. He asked the government to reveal which objections they agree with and which they don’t.

Deputy Speaker Vaknin announced he will not vote on each objection and will vote on the objections by quarters of the year, instead of every day of the year. He decided to call most of the votes by a show of hands. He thanked the National Union for ending their filibuster of the bill after five hours.

MK Eldad responded that Vaknin is not following the Knesset protocol and that each objection must be voted on.

The bill’s paragraphs passed their second readings 13-1, 17-2, 17-2.

The objections were defeated 2-13, 2-13, 2-14, 2-13, 2-14, 2-14, 0-16.

The bill passed its third reading 17-2.

Two Amendments to the Prison Ordinance Bill

Homeland Security Minister Aharonovitch explained the amendment would change the terms of imprisonment for all prisoners regarding their rights and benefits. He said because it is a first reading and it is after midnight, he won’t get into details.

MK Khenin (Hadash) explained his similar amendment would force the prison service to grant appropriate detention conditions to prisoners. He said it is so late that it is a new day and a new, better day for human rights.

The first bill passed its first reading 18-0 and was sent to the Interior Committee.

The second bill passed its first reading 18-0 and was sent to the Interior Committee.

Two Amendments to the Compensation for Victims of Polio Bill

MK Pinyan (Likud) explained the amendment would allow polio patients who contracted polio outside of Israel to receive the same compensation given to polio patients diagnosed in Israel. He said there are about 600 polio patients who would enjoy the compensation, which is a one time grant and a monthly pension.

MK Azoulay (Shas) explained his similar amendment would accomplish the same thing. He thanked the polio patients who stayed up late and were sitting in the visitors’ area.

The first bill passed its first reading 17-0 and was sent to the Welfare Committee.

The second bill passed its first reading 17-0 and was sent to the Welfare Committee.

Amendment to the Dentists Ordinance Bill

Religious Affairs Minister Margi (Shas) explained the bill would allow dentists from overseas to join exchange programs with Israeli dentistry study institutions.

The bill passed its first reading 14-0 and was sent to the Labor Committee.

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This was the Knesset Jeremy English translation protocol of the Knesset’s February 6, 2012, session.

Official protocol in Hebrew: http://www.knesset.gov.il/plenum/data/00840212.doc

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