Homefront Security Minister Vilnai (Independence) said that unauthorized religious activities by anyone outside the army rabbinate are already illegal and therefore there is no reason for this bill. He said that the army is going to great lengths to increase the number of religious soldiers and told Horowitz not to ruin it. He offered turning the bill into a motion and Horowitz agreed.
The motion passed 12-0.
Amendment to the Students’ Rights Bill
MK Zoabi (Balad) explained her amendment would give every citizen the right to take the matriculation exams free of charge. She stressed that students must be allowed to take their tests and graduate high school free of charge and her bill will accomplish that. She cited court rulings that deemed charging for the tests illegal and said that although the practice was stopped in 2005, this bill will prevent the education ministry from changing their minds in the future. She agreed to postpone the vote on the bill in order to give the government more time to come around and support it.
Amendment to the Student Health Education Bill
MK Agbaria (Hadash) explained his amendment would force the schools to teach a class on health in middle and high school once a month in order to promote a healthy lifestyle. He agreed to postpone the vote on the bill in order to give the government more time to come around and support it.
Amendment to the Absorption of Discharged Soldiers Bill
MK Matalon (Y.B.) explained his amendment would increase the grant soldiers receive when they are released. He said this bill is a social justice bill and should be supported. He called on the Arabs and ultra-orthodox to at least do national service and complete some sort of duty to their country.
Homefront Security Minister Vilnai expressed government support for the bill.
The bill passed its preliminary reading 28-0 and was sent to the Welfare Committee.
Regulating State Preschool Activity Hours Bill
MK Tiviaev (Kadima) explained his original bill would force all state preschools to be open from 7 AM until 4 PM. He said his bill would go into effect gradually in order to meet its budget requirements. He said the current situation where the preschools get out between 1 PM and 2 PM keeps women out of the workforce or forces them to work part time. He said this bill would help single mothers and allow them to work instead of collect welfare checks. He said in his hometown of Ofakim the unemployment is 12%, well above the 5.3% average. He said that including those on welfare the unemployment rate is 20-25%. He called on the government to get with the socialist program and take the riches of Tel Aviv and bring them to Ofakim.
Education Minister Sa’ar (Likud) opposed the bill but suggested turning the bill into a motion. He said that the government plans on implementing this bill in the near future and therefore there is no reason to pass this bill.
MK Tiviaev agreed to turn the bill into a motion and said that if the government is going to go through with this bill anyways, the government should be supporting the bill.
The motion was passed 25-1. MK Sheetrit announced he voted from the wrong seat by mistake.
Amendment to the State Education Bill
MK Bielski (Kadima) said that 31,263 Israelis have died in traffic accidents, which is more than in all of Israel’s wars. He revealed that Israel has the highest child death rate in traffic accidents among the democratic nations. He noted that 70% of children ages 0-4 died because they weren’t wearing a seat belt. He explained his amendment would force the schools to set educational goals on teaching about road safety. He slammed the decision to lower the driving age to 16 years and 9 months and said that having more young drivers is not the answer. He said Israeli road rage makes the State look like a third world country.
Education Minister Sa’ar praised the idea in principle but opposed the bill on the grounds that there are already many hours dedicated to road safety in Israeli schools. He revealed that the number of hours Israelis learn about road safety in schools is among the highest around the globe. He asked if he should take away hours of Math and English for more road safety. He answered that it probably wouldn’t help.
MK Bielski said that the hours are not enough if Israel’s children die on a percentage basis more than any other democratic nation and the hours must be increased.
The bill was defeated 23-44.
Amendment to the Council for Higher Education Bill
MK Molla (Kadima) explained that his amendment would exempt students whose families live below the poverty line from university tuition. He said that if the government opposes this bill they are throwing away socialism for piggish capitalism.
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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