The Knesset’s Monday session lasted about two hours. Four bills were discussed. One bill became law after passing its third reading, two bills were advanced after passing their first readings and one bill was not voted on. There was no no-confidence motions this week due to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s trip to United States. It is an unofficial tradition not to attempt to topple the government while the Prime Minister is representing Israel overseas. Because the Wednesday session was cancelled, the Knesset’s usual three-day week was merged into a two-day week schedule.

 

Non-Bills Summary

* 15 MKs gave speeches during the one minute speech segment that opened the day.

* Homefront Security Minister Vilnai (Independence), Energy and Water Minister Landau (Y.B.), Deputy Education Minister Moses (U.T.J.), Labor and Welfare Minister Kahalon (Likud) and Immigration and Absorption Minister Landvor (Y.B.) answered urgent queries.

* Justice, Law and Constitution Committee Chairman Rotem (Y.B.) announced his committees request to split a bill into two. The Knesset approved the request 11-0.

* House Committee Chairman Levin (Likud) announced which disputed bills will be discussed in which committees.

Bills Summary

Amendment to the Population Registration Bill

Interior and Environment Committee Chairman Cohen (Shas) explained the amendment would force the population registry to change a citizen’s religion based on the Rabbinical Court decisions. He said it is unacceptable that many people are Jews according to Jewish law and the secular population registry in the Interior Ministers office refuses to list them as such. He said the population registry can temporary not comply if they have reason to believe the citizen is not Jewish, however if a Rabbinical Court examines that evidence and disagrees, they must comply with the court decision.

The bill passed its second reading 14-0.

The bill passed its third reading 14-0.

Temporary Amendment to the Income Tax Ordinance Bill

Deputy Finance Minister Cohen (Shas) explained the amendment would increase the interest earned as well as a tax benefit package for seniors who keep their pension in the government’s hands for an extended period of time, allowing them to do part-time work during that time.

MK Ben Ari (N.U.) blasted the 40% increase of water bills in the last two years. He suggested the national project of transferring from national water resources to privately run treatment plants is hurting Israelis and should be prevented and repealed.

MK Molla (Kadima) slammed the government decision to transfer seven billion shekels from the budget to different places in one committee discussion and vote. He said this isn’t a serious way to deal with the tax payers money. He asked why the Immigration and Absorption Ministry was cut by 28 million shekel. He blasted the 5.5 million shekel cut in the Ethiopian budget. He suggested Minister Landvor supported these measures and doesn’t really want to absorb the remaining Jews in Ethiopia.

Immigration and Absorption Minister Landvor (Y.B.) told Molla to drop the stigma that she is against absorbing immigrants in general and Ethiopians in particular. She said that she fought against those cuts and Molla should stop trying to be a populist to win points. She said that all of her projects were cut and not just those of Ethiopians. MK Molla heckled her speech, so she decided to step down from the podium.

MK Eichler (U.T.J.) criticized the government position that high gas taxes are meant to save the environment and promote public transportation. He then went on to slam foreign lobbyists that are promoting incitement against orthodox Jews of all types and settlers. He called for transparency on all of the hidden lobbyists that are not classified as such. He concluded by calling the Israeli Supreme Court a group of Meretz supporters that act like dictators, but unlike Russian President Putin, they don’t even need to pretend to have elections.

Deputy Speaker Vaknin (Shas) announced the vote for this bill will take place the next day.

Amendment to the Pension Payment for Reserve Soldiers and Their Families Bill 

MK Matalon (Y.B.) explained the amendment would grant a one time payment of 100,000 shekel to orphans who lost a parent during a terrorist attack or military service before 1999. He explained that the payment goes to the spouse, but in cases of no living spouse the orphans would not receive the payment. He stated this bill would fix the technical loophole and 240 orphans would now receive their payment.

MK Zeev (Shas) praised the bill and slammed the current situation.

The bill passed its first reading 5-0 and was sent to the Welfare Committee.

Amendment to the Social Security Bill

Funds Committee Chairman Gafni (U.T.J.) explained the amendment would grant eligibility for an old age pension increase for widows and housewives over the age of 82 years. He said that the increase would end the discrimination where women over the age of 82 receive less money than women under the age of 82. He said the bill would take effect on January 1st 2013.

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

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This was the Knesset Jeremy English translation protocol of the Knesset’s March 5, 2012, session.

Official protocol in Hebrew: http://www.knesset.gov.il/plenum/data/01361112.doc

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