The Knesset had two sessions on Monday. The first session, meant solely for choosing the next State Comptroller in a secret ballot vote, lasted about three and a half hours. Later that evening the second session lasted about three hours. Prime Minister Netanyahu’s candidate Shapira was selected as the next State Comptroller. Netanyahu’s 94-MK coalition embarrassed him in the secret vote as Shapira failed to receive the required 61 votes in the first two rounds, forcing a third. Seven bills were discussed. Six bills were advanced after passing their first readings, and one bill became law after passing its third reading. The new law limits the number of visits a prisoner can receive from a lawyer if there is a threat to national security.

 

Non-Bills Summary

  • In the first round of State Comptroller voting 114 MKs participated, and 6 MKs were absent. Joseph Shapira received 58 votes,  Eliezer Rivlin 44 and Shlomo Kalderon 10. Two MKs gave in blank papers.
  • In the second round of voting 111 MKs participated, and nine were absent. Shapira received 59, Rivlin 45, and Kalderon 2, with three blank papers and two disqualified votes.
  • 111 MKs participated in the third and final round of voting between the top two candidates. Shapira won 68 and Rivlin 40, with one blank paper and two disqualified votes.
  • House Committee Chairman Levin (Likud) announced that MK Bar-On (Kadima) will replace Minister Mofaz (Kadima) as the  Knesset’s Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman. He also announced his committee’s decisions on which disputed bills would be discussed in which committees. The decisions were approved 4-1.
  • Hadash, Ra’am-Ta’al and Balad’s joint no-confidence motion titled ‘The unity government increases the danger of war’ was defeated 11-26.
  • Labor’s no-confidence motion titled ‘The government’s intention to enact drastic and dangerous cuts in the 2013 budget,  especially in the social field’ was defeated 12-26.
  • Meretz’s no-confidence motion titled ‘The “stinking maneuver” of the unity between the Netanyahu government and Kadima’ was defeated 12-26.

Bills Summary

Amendment to the Prison Ordinance Bill

MK Pinyan (Likud) explained the amendment would allow the prison service to limit the number of lawyers that visit a prisoner in Israeli jails if there is a fear that the prisoner-lawyer meetings pose a risk to national security. He explained the previous 2011 amendment limited certain terrorist lawyers’ visits with prisoners but it did not prevent unknown terrorist lawyers from meeting with terrorists who handed over sensitive information to the wrong hands. Prisoners who have finished their appeal process and still receive dozens of lawyer visits a year raise concerns that these lawyer visits are being used as a loophole by the prisoners to engage in terrorist activity. Mafia lawyers also use this loophole to allow their bosses to run things from inside prison. He stressed that it is important to note that this amendment limits the number of lawyer visits but does not prohibit them, adding that a prisoner will be entitled to at least one visit every month. He asked the Knesset to defeat the opposition’s objections to the bill.

MK Horowitz (Meretz) said it is important to protect the basic right of every prisoner to meet with his lawyer as often as he wants for as long as he wants. He spoke against the bill and said that these basic rights should not be limited. He called on the Knesset to defeat the bill, but, if they choose to support the bill, to at least support his party’s objections to it.

MK Khenin (Hadash) started his speech by praising the deal between the security prisoners and the prison service that ended the prisoners’ hunger strike. He went on to express his solidarity with the security prisoners’ position against administrative detention and their living conditions. He praised the accomplishments of the strike by equating most of the Palestinian security prisoners’ rights to those of regular Israeli prisoners but expressed regret that there is still a long way to go. He slammed the current bill as problematic, dangerous and unconstitutional. He said this bill gives the prison authority too much responsibility at the price of lawyer and prisoner rights. He said that he was not convinced there is any terrorist or mafia activity being conducted during prisoner-lawyer meetings. He called this a collective punishment bill that will harm the lawyers’ abilities to do their jobs and the prisoners’ basic democratic rights. He called on the Knesset to defeat the bill or to at least support his objections if they choose to support the bill.

The bill’s paragraphs passed their second readings 14-4 and 16-4.

The objections were defeated 4-14, 4-15, 4-16 and 4-16.

The bill passed its third reading 16-4.

Changing the Social Economy Bill

Deputy Education Minister Moses (U.T.J.) explained the original bill would require the Education Minister to receive the Knesset’s Education Committee’s authorization on the exact payments required from parents for their children’s public schooling. He explained that with public schooling starting at age 3 instead of age 5, the extension of the book loaning program, longer hours for children under the age of 9 and the funding of informal education programs such as youth groups, the government will probably need to raise tuition. He stated this bill will designate 500 million shekels to be utilized to help pay part of the tuition for parents of low socioeconomic background.

MK Khenin stated that public school should be free for all and instead each year it becomes more expensive. He warned this bill will create a two-step educational system where parents will need to be embarrassed in order to receive a discount.  He added that the social justice movements last summer were fighting to lower tuition and not to increase it for some. He called the bill an embarrassment and a disgrace.

The bill passed its first reading 10-1 and was sent to the Education Committee.

Amendment to the Execution Bill

Homeland Security Minister Aharonovitch (Y.B.) explained the amendment would allow accelerated repo proceedings for amounts under NIS 10,000. He said that the pilot plan was successful and this bill will widen the program to most cases under NIS 10,000.

MK Khenin expressed his opposition to the bill on the grounds that it harms poor people. He said that repo proceedings for under NIS 10,000 are almost always against poor people, and an accelerated route will harm them. He said that if the bill passes he will fight it in committee.

The bill passed its first reading 8-2 and was sent to the Justice Committee.

Amendment to the Administrative Courts Bill

Homeland Security Minister Aharonovitch explained the amendment extends the authority of the administrative courts so that they will be able to hear cases on illegal immigrants as well.

MK Khenin spoke in favor of the Africans and said that the border should remain open and that Israel should allow them to work. He blamed the government for the latest wave of violence in the poor neighborhoods because it is the government that places the Africans in those areas, waiting for an explosion. He called on the Knesset to oppose this bill because it will harm the Africans’ rights.

The bill passed its first reading 8-2, with one MK abstaining and was sent to the Justice Committee.

Amendment to the Patents Bill

Homeland Security Minister Aharonovitch explained the amendment would regulate the patents authority to ensure the extension of protection. He said that a treaty signed by this administration between Israel and the United States requires this amendment to pass in order for the treaty to take effect. He confessed that he had no idea what he just read or what the bill does.

The bill passed its first reading 8-0 and was sent to the Justice Committee.

Amendment to the Traffic Ordinance Bill

Homeland Security Minister Aharonovitch explained the amendment would delay the new regulations on “sheirut” cab drivers to 2013 with an ability to extend for another three years until 2016 if the Finance Committee authorizes the request.

MK Khenin spoke in favor of sheirut cab services and called for having them operate on the Jewish Sabbath as well. He gave a five minute speech stressing the importance of public transportation on the Sabbath.

The bill passed its first reading 10-0 and was sent to the Finance Committee.

Amendment to the Clean Air Bill

Homeland Security Minister Aharonovitch explained the amendment would clean up the bureaucracy and make it easier to receive a building permit for factories that cause pollution.

MK Khenin opposed the bill and slammed the government for making it easier for the polluting factories to open up shop.

The bill passed its first reading 8-2 and was sent to the Environment Committee.

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This was the Knesset Jeremy English translation protocol of the Knesset’s May 14, 2012, session.

Official protocol in Hebrew: http://www.knesset.gov.il/plenum/data/02306212.doc and http://www.knesset.gov.il/plenum/data/02297712.doc

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