The Knesset’s Tuesday session lasted about six and a hours. 13 bills were discussed. One bill was advanced after passing its first reading, eight were advanced after passing their preliminary readings, three were turned into motions in order to avoid defeat, and one was defeated. Five bills that would raise the legal marriage age in Israel to 18 were advanced. National Union Chairman Katzeleh’s Judea and Samaria Natural Growth Bill was defeated, but not before he aired some behind-the-scenes dirty laundry.

 

Non-Bills Summary

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

* Speaker Rivlin, Deputy Minister Gamliel (Likud) and 8 MKs gave speeches marking International Women’s Day.

* Seven motions were discussed on a wide variety of issues and were sent to the Knesset’s committees by the votes 3-1, 8-0, 9-0, 7-0, 5-0, 2-0 and 2-0.

Bills Summary

Amendment to the Marriage Age Bill x5

MK Levin (Likud) explained his amendment would raise the age of marriage from 17 to 18. He said this issue has been a struggle for years and is finally taking off. He said thousands of 16 and 17 year olds marry each year, in most cases they are forced into the marriage, and most of the time it will eventually lead to divorce. He said it is absurd that a 17 year old is allowed to marry but is not allowed to do many other things including buying a house. He said that Jordan and Egypt have already raised the age of marriage to 18. He said that certain 16 and 17 year olds will be allowed to marry under his bill, but only if the court approves the marriage after hearing both sides. He said this is a just bill and must be passed as soon as possible.

MK Zuaretz (Kadima) said her similar amendment would accomplish the same thing and is a true breakthrough.

MK Khenin (Hadash) said his similar amendment would accomplish the same thing and protects women in particular and society as a whole. He said a minor who can’t purchase a lottery ticket or drink a beer legally shouldn’t be allowed to drop out of school in order to get married. He noted the government opposed his bill a year ago, and he is glad the government came around. He suggested prohibiting men over the age of 36 from receiving court permission to marry 16 or 17 years olds.

MK Horowitz (Meretz) said his similar amendment would accomplish the same thing. He said that his co-sponsor MK Gal-On (Meretz) has been fighting for years on this issue and that this bill has been opposed by the government since the first Knesset term in 1949. He praised the socialist concept of regulating the age of marriage.

MK Zoabi (Balad) said her similar amendment would accomplish the same thing. She noted that there are 3,000 marriages of minors a year in the Arab sector alone. She stated that Israel is joining Egypt, Morocco, Turkey and Jordan who have all raised the age of marriage to 18 over the last five years. She said those who get married before 18 are forced to do so, and it leads to miscarriages and divorce.

Deputy Minister Gamliel (Likud) expressed government support for the bill. She said that over 500 women give birth under the age of 18 each year and that can lead to serious health problems according to various studies. She said women who decide to get married before 18 are not doing so under free will. She stated this is an historic moment.

MK Zeev (Shas) opposed the bill and said that he has never seen a darker day in the Knesset than today. He asked who the Knesset is to think they can tell a woman when she can marry. He called those who support this bill hypocrites. He noted that Iceland, The Netherlands, Hungary, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey, United Kingdom, Canada, certain states in the United States of America and Switzerland all allow marriage under the age of 18 without the need for the court’s permission. He argued this bill violates Basic Law: Freedoms and is an embarrassment. He suggested this bill would increase abortions because shotgun marriages would be more difficult and the mother would have to decide if she wants a bastard child or not at all.

MK Levin (Likud) asked which MK would allow his child to get married at the age of 17 and asked what they would do to prevent it. He said this bill helps protect women from forced marriage.

The first bill passed its preliminary reading 39-8 with one MK abstaining.

The second bill passed its preliminary reading 39-7.

The third bill passed its preliminary reading 39-7.

The fourth bill passed its preliminary reading 39-7.

The fifth bill passed its preliminary reading 37-8 with one MK abstaining.

The bills were merged and sent to the House Committee to determine which committee will discuss them further.

Amendment to the Copyright Bill

MK Gilon (Meretz) explained his amendment would require accessibility of books inside libraries and stores for people with disabilities. He said that 150,000 disabled people require this bill and this is another great American bill that Israel would be adapting. He said preventing disabled people from accessing books is unfortunate and should be corrected.

Bureaucracy Minister Eitan (Likud) expressed government support for the bill.

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

Motion/Amendment to the Government Bill

MK Naffaa (Balad) explained his amendment would require the Ministerial Committee on Legislation to list their reasoning for opposing a bill. He said the current situation where there is a check or an X is not acceptable, and writing at least one sentence would be helpful to the MK who has to prepare a speech to change the government’s opinion. He quoted Minister Begin (Likud), who said that the committee can’t discuss 4,000 bills a year and sometimes only gives a bill thirty seconds. He challenged the government to support his bill and create a more productive and transparent legislative process.

Bureaucracy Minister said that he personally feels that this a worthy bill but that he is in the minority in the government. He said that the government opposes the bill but allows a discussion in the committee if he agrees to turn the bill into a motion. He said that in a parliamentary democracy there is a need for this type of idea. He expressed the government position that the ministers see no reason to explain themselves to the Knesset members.  Naffaa agreed to turn the bill into a motion.

The motion passed 28-0 and was sent to the Justice Committee.

Judea and Samaria Cities Natural Development Bill

MK Katzeleh (N.U.) said elections will be held within the next year and eight months. He praised the Likud MKs who appear as Land of Israel candidates in Makor Rishon, Arutz Sheva and Srugim. He said that Deputy Minister Ya’alon, Coalition Chairman Elkin, House Committee Chairman Levin and Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs Committee Chairman Danon are all good men, but they aren’t the ones who decide policy within the Likud. He slammed Netanyahu, who told him when he needed National Union’s support with President Peres that he would allow natural development in Judea and Samaria and went on to freeze all settlements and Jerusalem. He said that if all of the good “Eretz Yisrael” candidates couldn’t convince Netanyahu to support this National Union bill that would enable natural development then it is very obvious they have no impact. He called on the nationalist camp to vote for the bill that would help Netanyahu keep his word. He warned the Likud MKs that the public will judge them for opposing this bill. He quoted Likud’s Judea and Samaria Mayors of Ma’aleh Adumim and Ariel, who criticize Netanyahu for freezing their settlements until today. He called Netanyahu a dictator. MK Hotovely interrupted him to defend Netanyahu, and Katzeleh slammed Hotovely for voting against Judea and Samaria and told her that she isn’t worth anything if Netanyahu doesn’t listen to one word that she says. He asked Hotovely how she can vote against building in Ma’aleh Adumim, Ariel, Beitar Ilit, Modiin Ilit, Alefi Meneshe and Efrat. He said Hotovely is worth nothing and her interviews with Arutz Sheva are worth nothing. He slammed the Likud for the building freeze.

Minister Begin (Likud) was being heckled by Shas and Jewish Home MKs before he even started talking, leading Deputy Speaker Majadele (Labor) to ask the coalition members to respect their own minister. Begin expressed government opposition to the bill and defended Netanyahu and his current style of government. He said this bill limits the executive branch’s power and increases the power of the legislative branch. He said that he supports Judea and Samaria’s 342,414 residents and supports the idea of increasing those numbers, but not through legislation. He said that he will defend his record and Netanyahu’s record during the next election campaign and won’t run from it.

MK Katzeleh said that although he is a loyal Eretz Yisrael person, this isn’t a Katzeleh bill or a National Union bill, this is an Eretz Yisrael bill. He told Minister Begin that he respects him personally but Begin can’t ignore the facts. He told Begin that he can’t ignore that Netanyahu accepted the two-state solution, froze Judea and Samaria building completely for ten months and froze building in many places until today, and froze our capital of Jerusalem. He told Begin that he sat with Netanyahu and Gideon Sa’ar after the 2009 election, and Netanyahu promised to allow natural growth in Judea and Samaria. Katzeleh said it is very important that we state the fact that Netanyahu lied and warn the public before the next elections that Netanyahu is a liar.

The bill was defeated 5-24 with one MK abstaining.

Motion/Amendment to the Traffic Ordinance Bill

MK Tirosh (Kadima) explained her amendment would require installing a blue flashing light on the new traffic cameras around the country. She said that the new traffic cameras are a great idea but they shouldn’t be a money maker and should instead be used to prevent speeding. She said the government can find another way to collect money but these fines take it too far. She asked why police cars must have a blue siren but a traffic camera is exempt and told them to stop camouflaging them. She said that this bill is the same as asking school children to be silent when the teacher is out of the room. She said that studies show that high speeding is not the highest parameter is traffic accidents. She said that the Moresha interchange camera has handed out over a thousand fines in the last month alone.

Science and Technology Minister Hershkowitz (J.H.) asked Tirosh to turn the bill into a motion in order to discuss the matter in committee. Tirosh agreed.

The motion passed 11-0 and was sent to the Finance Committee.

Motion/Amendment to the Real Estate Tax Bill

MK Solodkin (Kadima) explained Jerusalem, Ashdod and Netanya are filled with apartments that are owned by foreigners who don’t even rent them out. She said that her amendment would require a 20% real estate purchase tax for all nonresidents. She slammed the government for opposing her bill and embracing empty ‘ghost’ neighborhoods.

Deputy Finance Minister Cohen (Shas) said that only 4% of houses are bought by nonresidents for an average of NIS 1.73 million per house, 62% higher than the resident average. He said that since the nonresidents are not competing with young couples for small apartments the government is against the bill that would discriminate against nonresidents and violate diplomatic treaties that would cause double taxation.  He suggested turning the bill into a motion, and Solodkin agreed.

The motion passed 6-0 and was sent to the House Committee to determine which committee will discuss it.

Amendment to the Mandatory Tenders Bill

MK Michaeli (Shas) explained his amendment would give incentives to factories that employ disabled people within the Tenders Bill. He said that MK Orlev (J.H.) and MK Avraham Balila (Kadima) recently advanced similar bills, and his bill would be merged with their bills in committee.

Deputy Finance Minister Cohen expressed government support for the bill except for the provisions that violate the GPA agreement. He explained that there are 150 factories that meet these requirements and they receive 140 million shekels a year in incentives already.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 6-0 and was sent to the Labor Committee.

Amendment to the Planning and Building Bill

MK Khenin explained the amendment would allow installation of solar panel systems on buildings without limiting the number of floors. He said the current restriction on solar panel systems on buildings of over nine levels is old news and it is time to get with technology.

Religious Affairs Minister Margi (Shas) expressed government support for the bill.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 7-0 and was sent to the Environment Committee.

Amendment to the Income Tax Ordinance Bill

The bill that was presented and discussed the previous evening was vote on. It 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 March 6, 2012, session.

Official protocol in Hebrew: http://www.knesset.gov.il/plenum/data/01397612.doc

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