The Wednesday Dec. 7th session lasted about eight hours. Thirteen bills were discussed. One bill was advanced after passing its preliminary reading, three were defeated, six were withdrawn and three were turned into motions in order to avoid defeat. The bill advanced will increase the financial compensation soldiers receive as part of their exit package. The three bills defeated would have given students under the poverty line free university, allowed business owners to go to university as a tax expense and raised the number of hours schools teach traffic safety.
* Education Minister Sa’ar (Likud), Labor and Welfare Minister Kahlon (Likud) and Homeland Security Minister Aharonovitch (Y.B.) answered urgent queries at the beginning of the session.
* There were eight motions discussed on a wide variety of topics. Seven motions were sent to committee for further discussion by the votes 17-0, 11-0, 8-0, 6-0, 6-0, 6-0 and 6-0. One motion was not voted on.
Amendment to the Civil Service Bill
MK Eichler (U.T.J.) slammed Israel for discriminating against people who don’t have a degree. He said that a degree is important for doctors and lawyers but has nothing to do with most occupations. He said that a person who has experience in a given field should not be overlooked for a person with no experience but has a degree in music. He charged that Israel discriminates against the ultra-orthodox. He explained his amendment would stop giving preference to government job applicants with a non-relevant academic degree and would put them at the same level as someone who doesn’t have a degree. He added that the amendment would also apply to political appointments. He slammed the government for not supporting his bill and said that his party will have to reconsider being a part of a government that discriminates against the ultra-orthodox. He agreed to turn the bill into a motion in order to avoid defeat.
The motion was passed 15-1.
Jerusalem Capital of Israel and the Jewish People Bills
MK Eldad (N.U.) said that Jerusalem has been the capital and heart of the Jewish people for thousands of years. He noted that no foreign conqueror ever declared Jerusalem as its capital. He noted that divided Jerusalem served as Israel’s capital from its establishment until it was reunited in 1967 and since then a united Jerusalem serves as Israel’s capital. He explained the point of this original bill is to tell the foreign countries to stop telling Israel they can’t build in their capital. He expressed hope that this bill will strengthen Jerusalem. He agreed to postpone the vote on the bill in order to give the government more time to come around and support it.
MK Orlev (J.H.) said this bill is important for the Jewish people in the Diaspora. He slammed the Labor party for doing a 180 and opposing the bill, something that hurt the advancement of the bill as a Basic Law. He said this isn’t a political bill but rather a Jewish bill. He agreed to postpone the vote on the bill in order to give the government more time to come around and support it.
Reward for Regular Soldiers and Civilian Volunteers to Ensure their Higher Education Bill
MK Braverman (Labor) explained his original bill would create a fund of a soldier’s yearly wages that will be put towards that soldier’s college tuition. He explained that the year of wages will reflect minimum wage. He compared his bill to former U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt’s G.I. Bill. He suggested this bill will motivate young people to join the army and will even entice the ultra-orthodox to join the army and the Arabs to join the national service. He agreed that the bill’s price tag of two billion shekels is heavy and that is why his bill calls for a gradual process. He warned that prolonging the passing of this bill will lead to youth violence. He said that it is the responsibility of the rich to bail out the poor and they should pay more taxes to fund this bill. He agreed to postpone the vote on the bill in order to give the government more time to come around and support it.
Restricting Unauthorized Religious Activities in the Israel Defense Forces and Israeli Police Bill
MK Horowitz (Meretz) said his original bill will prohibit handing out material, prayer services, seminars and all other religious activities by someone who is outside of the army rabbinate in all army bases. He said that the army is not a place to promote religion or secular persecution. He went on to slam the separation of women from men in religious units and the women who are discriminated against and humiliated because they are female. He said that not allowing women to sing in front of men has no place in a democratic state.
About the Author: Jeremy Saltan is a frequent guest on various radio programs and and a veteran political analyst. He has run political campaigns in English and Hebrew for Israeli municipality, party institution, primary and general elections. Jeremy’s opinion pieces have been published, quoted or credited by Voice of America, Daily Beast, France 24, Washington Post, BBC, Al Jazeera, Foreign Policy, Jerusalem Post, Times of Israel, Israel National News and the Jewish Press and more.
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