Tag Archive: deputy finance minister


The Knesset’s Monday session lasted about five and a half hours. 16 bills were discussed. Seven bills became law after passing their third readings, and nine bills were advanced after passing their first readings. The Jewish opposition parties of Kadima, Labor, National Union and Meretz decided not to bring no-confidence motions in order to support the government during the escalation of rocket attacks on Israeli soil. The 16-bill day was just another sign that this is the second to last week before the spring recess. The Knesset enjoyed an unusually long five day weekend after the previous Wednesday session was cancelled for the Jewish holiday of Purim. The day had some of the most interesting bills of the session. Among the new laws are prohibitions on assisting illegals, preventing women from draft dodging and a one-time NIS 100,000 welfare payment to orphans who lost a parent from a terrorist attack or during the parent’s army service.

 

Non-Bills Summary

* Hadash, Ra’am-Ta’al and Balad’s joint no-confidence motion titled ‘The escalation in South’ was defeated 4-40 with 76 MKs not present.

* House Committee Chairman Levin (Likud) announced MK Tibi (R.T.) will replace MK Itzik (Kadima) in the Finance Committee.

* House Committee Chairman Levin announced which disputed bills would be discussed in which committees.

* Deputy Finance Minister Cohen (Shas) announced the government’s transfer of certain powers from his ministry to Justice Minister Neeman. The Knesset approved the transfer 11-0.

* Communications Minister Kahlon (Likud) announced the government’s transfer of certain powers from his ministry to Minister Meridor (Likud). The Knesset approved the transfer 14-0.

* Labor and Welfare Minister Kahlon answered six queries at the end of the session.

Bills Summary

Amendment to the Illegal Residence Bill

Interior Committee Chairman Cohen (Shas) explained the current temporary amendment that prohibits assistance to ilegals in terms of hiring, transporting or providing sleeping accommodations for them would become a permanent amendment. He said that certain sections would remain as temporary amendments, mostly in regards to taxi drivers who transport illegals. He called on the Knesset to defeat Hadash’s objections to the bill.

MK Khenin (Hadash) said hard cases make bad law. He said these laws go too far and turn every illegal into a criminal and turn those who help them into criminals. He said that this bill forces taxi drivers to racially profile their passengers. He called the bill absurd and said it gives cab drivers the powers of a policeman or a soldier. He called it a racist bill that makes a cab driver’s job so much harder. He said these were temporary provisions because Israel dreamed of peace but turning these provisions into a permanent law shows that Israel has given up on that dream.

MK Barakeh (Hadash) called the bill crazy. He said that there is a high level of security in Israel and the Palestinians act as their policemen in the territories so there is really no need for this bill. He said the foundation of logic for this law is seriously flawed. He called this bill another Israeli attempt to turn its public into racists and tell the Arabs who is boss. He said there is not one documented case of a terrorist who entered a cab told the driver to start meter and blew himself up.

MK Eldad (N.U.) said there are those who look at Israel as a Jewish safe house and that led to an ideology that we can give away parts of the safe house in order to achieve peace. He said the land for peace didn’t work, so it led to land for demographics. He said those who tell us we must give away land because of the demographic problem and then tell us we must in the name of liberalism and human rights allow illegals to live in our land are hypocrites. He said the true motive of these liberals is to give up on Zionism and Judaism and allow Arabs and Sudanese to raise families here. He called on the liberal politicians to stop holding both sides of the stick and decide if they had to choose between their hatred of the Jewish people and their hatred of the Jewish state which one they would give up on.

MK Ben Ari (N.U.) read a Ma’ariv columnist piece where the columnist went to a joint Israeli Jewish-Arab event. She described her shock as they told her that the Jews stole their land and conquered their nation. Ben Ari said that these Arabs want to destroy us, and there are Jews who cooperate with them. He said the safe house argument is passé, and the next generation is starting to question that motive. He said Zionism doesn’t start from Tel Chai, it started with Abraham in the Torah. He called on the government to raise children in the right way. He said the true answer is that this is our land and no one else’s land.

The bills paragraphs passed their second readings 37-7, 35-7 and 34-8.

The objections were defeated 8-35, 8-35 and 8-33.

The bill passed its third reading 34-8.

Amendment to the Parties Bill

House Committee Chairman Levin (Likud) explained his amendment would require transparency, accounting and limitations on the income and expenditure of politicians before their party’s registration. He thanked MK Schneller for co-sponsoring his bill. He said that fundraising without transparency by using a technical loophole of not registering your party until you have the money is unacceptable. He slammed Yair Lapid for attempting to use these loopholes and said this must be stopped as soon as possible. He blasted Yair Lapid for using his job as a news anchor to lead a political campaign and charged he only resigned because of a different bill that forced him to do so. He asked how someone can campaign across the country without revealing his donors, when every other person or party reveals his. He said the public deserves to know who is sending Lapid to the Knesset and what it is they want him to do. He said everyone should be equal in the political playing field, and this bill will enable that.

MK Molla (Kadima) said that the current electoral system has bigger problems, and this is a minor issue. He said the current system must be changed from its foundation, and this approach of fixing a minor thing is not worth our time. He slammed the ultra-orthodox parties for their exclusion of female representatives.

MK Khenin repeated that hard cases make bad law. He complemented Levin for confessing it is a personal bill aimed at Yair Lapid. He said that although he disagrees with Lapid politically, he is for transparency and thinks that Lapid’s basic rights should be free. He said the real transparency should be regulating or prohibiting the free daily newspaper Yisrael Hayom that is funded by Netanyahu’s friend [Sheldon Adelson]. He expressed his opposition to the bill.

MK Schneller (Kadima) expressed his solidarity with the citizens in the south who are under rocket fire. He said every party has their media tools and singling out the Likud is an issue in the same vain as that laid out in Molla’s speech about needing a bigger reform. He said that Israelis want transparency and are sick of the connection between big money interests and politicians. He added that Israelis want equality and separation of money from politics. He said everyone knows this is a great bill and praised MK Levin for coming up with the idea.

The bill passed its first reading 29-4 and was sent to the House Committee.

Amendment to the Social Security Bill

Justice, Law and Constitution Committee Chairman Rotem (Y.B.) explained the amendment would reduce a citizen’s pension by 50% if they commit a crime with nationalistic motives or have a connection to terrorist activity. He said that he wanted to eliminate the pension completely, but the government decided to agree only to a 50% reduction in order not to punish the family of the terrorist.

MK Barakeh said that this bill is not worthy at all. He said this bill punishes the spouse and children who didn’t do anything or commit any crime. He asked why terrorists’ families are being punished but rapists’ and drug dealers’ families are not. He called Rotem a racist.

MK Zahalka (Balad) said this is a bad bill that contradicts the foundation of law and equality. He said that it is not acceptable to give an additional punishment after the criminal receives the first punishment from the court of law. He said changing the punishment in the middle of serving that punishment is not acceptable. He said Rotem and Yisrael Beitenu are against the Arabs and are trying to use their position to promote and pass their racist laws. He said this collective punishment should be opposed and defeated.

MK Zeev (Shas) recalled the Supreme Court decision that destroying a terrorist’s house is legal and will make terrorists think twice before engaging in such conduct. He said this is just another step in that direction. He reminded Zahalka that the United States has kept prisoners in Guantanamo Bay without trial for a decade, so he should be happy Israel has not gone that far.

The bill passed its first reading 24-5 and was sent to the Welfare Committee.

Temporary Amendment to the Security Service Bill

Coalition Chairman Elkin (Likud) announced that women who eat kosher at home and keep the Sabbath may be exempted from military service, but many secular women have decided to use that loophole in order to get out of serving in the army. He explained this temporary amendment would present the army tools in figuring out which women are tricking the system in order to draft them into the army. He blasted the hundreds of secular women who use this loophole each year and told them that it will be closed very soon. He said this is a balanced bill that will allow religious women to still receive exemptions.

MK Herzog (Labor) said this is a big breakthrough in the struggle for equality in the burden of service. He said it is time to take the fakers and put them back into the army. He said that this temporary amendment is for three years and afterwards it will need to be turned into a permanent bill.

MK Gafni (U.T.J.) opposed the bill said there is no consensus on the bill. He said his party and the Rabbis are against forcing any woman to serve in the army. He said that he isn’t out to protect liars, but women should not be part of the mandatory draft and should only be allowed in the army if they volunteer. He called on his party’s deputy ministers to vote against this bill and follow their ideology. He noted that this was a bill that Kadima wrote in the previous term and it is now the Likud who decided to advance it. He warned the coalition that he and his party are not in the Likud’s pocket and they will seriously consider joining forces with the left after the next elections. He revealed that former Prime Minister Sharon told him that he would leave the Likud to form a new party before the other MKs knew and Gafni told him not to do it. He said that it was a mistake to tell Sharon not to leave the Likud and he is happy that Sharon didn’t listen to him. He concluded that Likud is not grateful for anything his party has sacrificed for them.

MK Eldad said that it is mitzvah [good deed] for everyone to serve in the army, and it is not a mitzvah to lie.

The bill passed its second reading 19-5.

The bill passed its third reading 21-5.

Amendment to the Banking Bill

Funds Committee Chairman Gafni explained the amendment would change the make-up of the directorship of banks as well as increase government supervision on all bank share holders that own over 1%. He said there are a few other minor changes that update basic bank regulations. He said that this bill was advanced with compromises made by the bank owners and the government, and the result is a very balanced bill. He said the most important change in this bill is allowing the government to sell off its shares of Bank Leumi.

The bill passed its second reading 15-0.

The bill passed its third reading 14-0.

Amendment to the Higher Education Bill

Education Minister Sa’ar (Likud) stated there are eight universities and 67 recognized higher education colleges in Israel. He said this amendment would allow the ministry to fund recognized higher education facilities that were not previously funded.

The bill passed its first reading 9-0 and was sent to the Education Committee.

Amendment to the Electricity Bill

Tourism Minister Misezhnikov (Y.B.) explained the amendment would transfer certain responsibilities of controlling the national electric company from the Finance Minister to the Energy and Water Minister.

The bill passed its first reading 11-0 and was sent to the Finance Committee.

Temporary Amendment to the Engineers and Architects Bill

Minister Misezhnikov stated there are over 9,000 engineers and architects in Israel and the amendment would change their annual fees from a one year license to a three year license. He said this would be a temporary amendment for three years and the government would decide if they want to make the change permanent at that time.

The bill passed its first reading 12-0 and was sent to the Labor Committee.

Amendment to the Prison Ordinance Bill

Homeland Security Minister Aharonovitch (Y.B.) explained the amendment would allow him to limit a prisoner’s meeting with lawyers. He noted that certain security prisoners use these lawyer visits to engage in terrorist activity, and certain prisoners have dozens of lawyer visits a year even if their case is closed. He said that there are terrorists who take advantage of this loophole, and it must be closed.

MK Zeev expressed support for the bill as long as it only applies to terrorists. Aharonovitch responded that it will only be used for terrorists, mobsters and drug dealers. Zeev agreed to support the bill.

The bill passed its first reading 13-0 and was sent to the Interior Committee.

Amendment to the Civil Service Bill

Deputy Finance Minister Cohen (Shas) explained the amendment would increase the pensions of policemen and prison servicemen by 5%-12% depending on their service length and rank. He said the changes would be retroactive to 2008 and spouses and orphans are eligible to receive the remainder of that pension. He called on the committee to advance this bill as soon as possible.

The bill passed its first reading 12-0 and was sent to the Welfare Committee.

Amendment to the Mail Bill

Communications Minister Kahlon (Likud) explained the amendment would expand the services offered by the postal bank in its 700 branches nationally. He said that expanding the services they offer will utilize more of the potential of the postal bank and its thousands of workers. He said among the new services are financial consultations and insurance sales.

The bill passed its first reading 12-0 and was sent to the Finance Committee.

Amendment to the Welfare Services Bill

Labor, Welfare and Health Committee Chairman Katz (Likud) explained the amendment would change the make-up of the appeals committee for citizens who are seeking social worker services from their local municipality and were denied.

The bill passed its second reading 10-0.

The bill passed its third reading 12-0.

MK Solodkin (Kadima) thanked the Knesset for approving her bill. She thanked Kahlon and Katz, who helped her advance this bill that will help hundreds of citizens a year across the country.

Amendment to the Reserve Soldiers and their Families Pension Payment

Labor, Welfare and Health Committee Chairman Katz explained this would be the 100th bill his committee has passed this term, and all of them have brought social justice to Israel. He said there are many needy people in the country, and they need his committee to pass these laws. He said this particular bill would grant orphans who lost their parent or parents in the army or in a terrorist attack before 1999 a one-time payment of NIS 100,000. He said 240 orphans will be eligible for this payment. He said the NIS 100,000 won’t bring their parent back but will give them justice.

The bill passed its second reading 12-0.

The bill passed its third reading 13-0.

Amendment to the Insurance Contracts Bill

Funds Committee Chairman Gafni explained the amendment would allow a customer who drops his insurance policy to not pay for the mandatory 15 days he is covered by the previous insurance company before he chooses a different one. He said insurance companies shouldn’t charge a fine and ask the customer to pay when he has decided to terminate his service.

The bill passed its second reading 10-0.

The bill passed its third reading 9-0.

Amendment to the Traffic Ordinance Bill

Finance Committee Chairman Shama (Likud) explained the amendment would require private companies that give out company cars without leasing companies to have a safety inspector that deals with traffic accidents and violations. He said that the safety inspector will be liable for certain offenses and will be sanctioned for certain violations. He said that the company will be required to give 24 hour service to their drivers. He said that certain defense establishment vehicles will be exempt from some of the regulations. He said MK Wilf’s objections were far reaching and all but one of them should be defeated. MK Shnaan (Independence) said he will vote against the bill because it doesn’t exclude MKs from placing a sticker that allows drivers to call and complain about their driving.

MK Wilf (Independence) explained her objection would prohibit answering machine menus when the safety inspector is not available. She said that she would remove her other objections to the bill.

The bill’s paragraphs passed its second reading 6-3, 7-1 and 7-1.

Wilf’s objection was passed 8-0.

The bill passed its third reading 6-1.

MK Bielski (Kadima) thanked the Knesset for approving his bill.

Amendment to the Municipalities Ordinance Bill

MK Bielski stated this bill would make his late mother proud and will make proud the residents of Ra’anna who he served as mayor for 17 years. He explained the amendment would change the way the central government distributes money to the strong municipalities and ease their regulations. He thanked Prime Minister Netanyahu for personally getting involved and for his position of allowing great municipalities to have independence.

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

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This was the Knesset Jeremy English translation protocol of the Knesset’s March 12, 2012, session.

Official protocol in Hebrew: http://www.knesset.gov.il/plenum/data/01487012.doc

The Knesset’s Wednesday session lasted about seven and a half hours. 14 bills were discussed. Five bills advanced after passing their preliminary readings, four were turned into motions, three were not voted on in order to avoid defeat, and two were defeated. The bills advanced deal with motorcycle insurance, prevention of minors in prostitution, encouraging disabled people to enter the work force and prohibiting the tapping of computers.

Non-Bills Summary

* Interior Minister Yishai (Shas), Education Minister Sa’ar (Likud) and Deputy Finance Minister Cohen (Shas) answered urgent queries at the beginning of the session.

* A special ceremony commemorating the former Czech president Vaclav Havel was held with speeches from Speaker Rivlin, Prime Minister Netanyahu and MK Avital (Kadima).

* Six motions were discussed on a wide variety of topics. Five of them were sent to committee to be discussed further by the votes 9-0, 10-0, 4-0, 5-0 and 4-0. One motion was defeated 0-6 after the MKs decided they had spoken enough about the topic.

 

Bills Summary

Motion/Amendment to the Government Bill

MK Eichler (U.T.J.) explained his amendment would require ministers to report why regulations were not enacted by the date they were required to begin. He said if a minister chooses not to follow the law, he should give a reason for it. Speaker Rivlin said this was one of the best bills he has seen this term and attacked the government for opposing it. Eichler slammed the press for not attacking ministers who choose not to follow the law. He went on to slam capitalism and praise socialism. He told the liberals they should respect ultra-orthodoxy’s method of higher education if they respect the Arabs’ methods. He went on to praise Jewish life, its connection to Hebron and Education Minister Sa’ar for bringing Israeli schoolchildren to visit there. He agreed to turn the bill into a motion.

The motion passed 14-0 and was sent to the House Committee.

Amendment to the Motor Vehicle Insurance Ordinance Bill

MK Shama (Likud) explained his amendment would change the insurance components for motorcycles and truck drivers in order to lower the rates back to the 2001 levels. He said the current high rates have discouraged people from owning motorcycles and trucks and his bill will lower them considerably. He blamed lobbyists for giving motorcycle drivers a bad name and manipulating statistics. He said the government doesn’t have a position on the bill.

MK Zeev (Shas) slammed the insurance companies for over charging and the government for thinking that solving that problem will lower the number of traffic accidents. He suggested the government take a percentage of the profits and invest it in better roads. He suggested this bill might be the problem and not the solution.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 18-0 with MK Zeev abstaining and was sent to the House Committee to determine which committee should discuss the bill.

Amendment to the Penal Code Bill

MK Orlev (J.H.) explained the punishment for maintaining a place for the prostitution of a minor will be raised from the minimum sentence of two years to seven years.

Justice Minister Neeman expressed government support for the bill.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 15-0 and was sent to the Justice Committee.

Two Amendments to the Mandatory Tenders Bill

MK Avraham Balila (Kadima) explained her amendment would encourage companies to hire workers with disabilities. She said in 2004 there were 165,000 disabled people on welfare and three quarters of them have previous work experience.

MK Orlev explained his similar amendment attempts to accomplish the same goal – to have more disabled people in the workforce. He said it is social justice to support the bills.

Deputy Finance Minister Cohen expressed government support for both bills.

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

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

Amendment to the Computer Bill

MK Avraham Balila explained her amendment would close a loophole that allows the tapping of phones through computers or other technical devices that are not currently included under law. She stated this bill would protect privacy laws and combat piracy and viruses.

Justice Minister Neeman expressed government support for the bill and said this bill will allow Israel to join the 2001 Budapest International Convention on Cybercrime.

The bill passed its preliminary reading 23-0 and was sent to the House Committee to determine which committee will discuss the bill further.

Motion/Amendment to the Planning and Building Bill

MK Barakeh (Hadash) explained his amendment would prohibit the demolition of Bedouins’ homes in the Negev. He went on to give a fiery ten minute speech blasting the government for demolishing Bedouins’ homes.

Interior Minister Yishai (Shas) said that this has been an issue since he was MK Zeev’s assistant in the Jerusalem municipality during the 1980’s and he has always been against demolishing homes for no reason.

Minister Begin (Likud) said that compromise is the best solution and called for turning the bill into a motion to discuss the matter further in committee.

MK El-Sana (R.T.) said that when it comes to people’s houses the only compromise that is acceptable is not demolishing their house.

Minister Begin suggested it is the Bedouins who don’t want to compromise or make sacrifices and that will cause them to lose their houses. He called on Bedouin tribes to stop fighting each other and asking the government to act as the referee.

The motion passed 31-1 and was sent to the Interior Committee.

Amendment to the Planning and Building Bill

MK Sheetrit (Kadima) explained his amendment would require the posting of planning and building committee decisions and pending decisions on the internet instead of in newspaper advertisements. He said that this will make it an easier process, will help serve the public and will help the government save millions every year.

Religious Affairs Minister Margi (Shas) expressed government opposition to the bill on the grounds that not everyone has internet and instead the government will go with a bill that includes the internet and the newspapers. He added that religious people don’t use the internet frequently and many newspapers might close if they don’t have money coming in from required newspaper ads.

MK Sheetrit said that he is willing to remove his clause on closing the newspapers but asked why the government can’t support the website aspect of the bill. He agreed to postpone the vote on the bill in order to give the government more time to come around.

Amendment to the Social Security Bill

MK Sheetrit explained his amendment would grant military and national service veterans an exemption from payment of health insurance premiums and social security payments for four years after their service ends. He said the bill will cost NIS 80 million annually. He agreed to postpone the vote on the bill in order to enlist government support.

Motion/Amendment to the Security Service Bill

MK Bibi (Kadima) explained his amendment would require a criminal record check before moving a soldier from the army to the Border Police. He said it is not proper to move a soldier to the Border Police and three months later send him back to the army because they forgot to do a simple security check.  He agreed to turn the bill into a motion in order to have a committee discussion on the matter.

The motion passed 26-0 and was sent to the Interior Committee.

Amendment to the Preventing Domestic Violence Bill

MK Solodkin (Kadima) explained her amendment would automatically place in jail anyone who violates a protection or restraining order. She noted 20% of women killed in domestic abuse cases had a standing court order against the person who killed them that was violated more than once. She called the government’s decision to oppose the bill an embarrassment.

Industry and Trade Minister Simhon (Independence) expressed government opposition to the bill on the grounds that it takes discretion out of the hands of policemen on the scene of a court order violation.

The bill was defeated 14-28.

Amendment to the Social Security Bill

Labor and Welfare Minister Kahlon (Likud) responded to MK Solodkin’s bill that was previously presented on changing the qualifying period for maternity social security benefits for students. He said that he had previously asked Solodkin to postpone the vote on her bill but he failed to convince the government to support her bill. He asked the coalition defeat the bill.

MK Solodkin told the coalition to vote for her bill and expressed sorrow that Kahlon wasn’t able to attain government support.

The bill was defeated 15-28.

Motion/Amendment to the Mandatory Tenders Bill

MK Cabel (Labor) told those who didn’t want to hear his bill to have Shira’s espresso in the cafeteria. He explained his amendment would prohibit companies from having the highest salary be more than 40 times the lowest salary. He said that his bill would mean the CEO would be limited to NIS 160,000 a month if he hired people who make minimum wage. He asked how social justice can be achieved if they oppose such an elementary bill. He said most of the companies that have failed are because of problematic management and not problematic workers.  He agreed to turn the bill into a motion in order to discuss the bill further in committee.

The motion passed 19-0 and was sent to the Funds Committee.

Amendment to the National Health Insurance Bill

MK Eldad (N.U.) explained his amendment would change the terms for replacing medication, medical treatment, medical care, a medical service provider or medical facilities in order to make them easier. He said that by allowing the transfer of medical items more easily the public will receive a better product. He agreed to postpone the vote on the bill to try and help convince the government to support the bill at a later date.

 

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This was the Knesset Jeremy English translation protocol of the Knesset’s February 1, 2012, session.

 

Official protocol in Hebrew: http://www.knesset.gov.il/plenum/data/00738212.doc

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.

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

Official protocol in Hebrew: http://www.knesset.gov.il/plenum/data/00455012.doc