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December 9, 2016 / 9 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Committee’

Knesset Committee Approves Bill Protecting Minorities Serving in the IDF

Wednesday, July 6th, 2016

On Wednesday the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee approved for a second and third reading a bill aiming to protect those who voluntarily serve in the IDF.

The legislation, proposed by MK Yoav Kisch (Likud), seeks to protect Israeli minorities who voluntarily serve in the IDF and suffer from increasing incitements against them. Proposed in order to protect the rising numbers of Christians who voluntarily join the IDF, the bill would make it punishable by law to incite against soldiers who voluntarily serve in the IDF.

The initial proposal included a prohibition on inciting against minorities who had not yet enlisted but were interested in serving, which would be similar to the current law that prohibits one from inciting against doing mandatory IDF service. However, this clause was removed from the proposal which now deals only with soldiers who are currently serving in the IDF.

Im Tirtzu CEO Matan Peleg, who testified before the committee, praised the bill, but expressed reservations that it would not prevent incitement against young minorities who are interested in enlisting.

He said, “The bill places an emphasis on minority soldiers who are currently serving in the IDF, but does not discuss or protect young minorities who want to enlist in the IDF or National Service.”

Peleg added that “the incitement and violence against those seeking to integrate into Israeli society is unacceptable. This bill is a small yet important step to promote the integration of minorities into Israeli society. Im Tirtzu will continue working on behalf of Israel’s minorities.”

David Israel

Knesset Committee Slams Finance Minister on Fear of Fighting Monopolies

Tuesday, July 5th, 2016

“Five years have passed, and prices have not gone down, and in certain cases they have gone up,” members of the Knesset Finance Committee told government representatives during Monday’s meeting marking five years since the summer of 2011 popular social protest in Israel.

The committee members slammed Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon for “being afraid to fight the monopolies,” but members of Kahlon’s Kulanu party said in response, “We are advancing many reforms, and we can already see the results on the ground.”

Finance Committee Chairman MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) said that “with all due respect to the Finance Ministry and talks of reform, in practice the prices have not gone down.”

MK Uri Maklev (United Torah Judaism) said, “Five years after the ‘cottage cheese’ protest, not only have the prices not gone down, in real terms they have increased, because the prices of commodities around the world have dropped 30-50%, and this is not being reflected in the Israeli market. Prices are 20% higher, on average, than in Europe. The prices of inputs have also decreased, as has the price of gas and energy, but this has not had any effect. What happened is that the monopolies and chain stores have gained huge profits at the consumers’ expense.”

MK Manuel Trajtenberg (Zionist Camp) explained that “the expense basket of a young family has three main components: housing, education and food. In housing the prices have only gone up; in education there has been some progress regarding ages 3-4, but not a week goes by that we are not asked to answer questions regarding family expenses related to education. An average family with three children spends some $1,300 a month on education, day care, afternoon child care, camps, and more. As far as food is concerned, some positive steps have been taken, but that nut has not been cracked and, ultimately, too much power has been left in the hands of a small number of companies.”

MK Yitzhak Vaknin (Shas) charged that the Trajtenberg Committee, which examined and proposed solutions to Israel’s socioeconomic problems, was established only to “ease tensions” and “take the wind out of the social protest’s sails.” In practice, he said, “nothing has been done.” Vaknin called to restore price controls, saying “in the absence of competition, this is the solution.”

MK Oren Hazan (Likud) said the problem is “greed.” The chain store owners and the major wholesalers “earn tens of millions on the public’s back,” he stated. “And meanwhile, here in the Knesset, people are strong at talking. The finance minister can make bold decisions and change the market without fearing his friends the tycoons. Here in this committee we have the power to advance a plan to dissolve the monopolies. We will enact a law to that effect.”

MK Roy Folkman of Kulanu said, “We have waged an all-out war on the monopolies. In Israel there is a very high concentration of market controls, and a finance minister who does not fear them has now arrived. We launched reforms in the importing of fresh meat and the prices have dropped. With fish as well, we created parallel importing. For years no one has dared to deal with the monopolies, which maintain a stronghold on Israeli politics, and we have started doing so. A change can already be seen in toiletries, food items, children’s toys and other items. The fight takes courage and ability. Increasing competition is the only way. Price control does not work; [corporations] would only raise the prices of other items. The business sector is more sophisticated than the regulator.”

MK Rachel Azaria, also from Kulanu, said “We are making great efforts, but every issue that reaches the Knesset gets stuck there. Every reform encounters objections, and it is nearly impossible to pass anything, including the fight against black market capital. I belong to the finance minister’s faction and it is my job to pass things, but nothing can be advanced; there are always dramas here; in some cases it’s the kibbutzim, in others kashrut – everybody has an interest. We have to be brave and deal with the basic problems: monopolies, quotas and interested bodies that prevent change. In the Arrangements Law we will introduce important reforms, and then we will see if all those who are yelling here will support them. We are the cause of the high prices. We have an opportunity to lower the cost of living, and I hope everyone here will support [the measures].”

JNi.Media

Justice Committee Approves NGO Foreign Funding Transparency Bill for Final Vote

Monday, June 27th, 2016

After rejecting dozens of objections, the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee on Wednesday approved for its second and third readings in the Knesset plenum a bill which would require non-governmental organizations that get more than half their funding from foreign governments or governmental agencies to make the public servants and elected officials they meet with aware of this fact and also report it in all their written publicity material.

The committee decided to merge three bills: one sponsored by the government and two other proposed by MKs Robert Ilatov (Yisrael Beitenu) and Bezalel Smotrich (HaBayit HaYehudi).

NGOs that will violate the so-called NGO Transparency Law will be fined $7,500. The law, if passed, will not apply retroactively, meaning these organizations will not have to declare such contributions that were received in the past. The law, should it be approved, will go into effect in January 2017 and will only apply to donations received from that date on.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Habayit Hayehudi) praised the transparency law, saying it would expose the fact that anti-Israeli NGOs are being funded by foreign governments. She said in a statement, “Countries should know that expressing their opinion about events inside Israel should be done via the familiar diplomatic channels. There is no comparable foreign intervention in a state’s internal affairs anywhere in the world, and there is no democracy that would have approved it. We, too, will not permit such a blunt intervention without exposing its foreign funding sources and bringing it to the public’s attention and to the attention of its elected officials.”

After the bill was approved by a vote of 7-6, Constitution Committee Chairman Nissan Slomiansky (HaBayit HaYehudi) said the bill was revised to avoid any constitutional harm. Addressing members of the opposition, he said, “You also admit that nothing much is left of [the bill].”

As to the opposition, its members on the committee were not happy. Neither was MK Benny Begin (Likud), who was elected with the strong intervention of Prime Minister Netanyahu, but who might as well be in the opposition. Begin said the legislation may produce results that do not coincide with the legislator’s intention. “We should operate thrrough diplomatic means,” he argued. “This was proven by the negotiations with Holland, Britain and Switzerland.”

MK Elazar Stern (Yesh Atid) said, “If it were up to MK Smotrich, the law would differentiate between Jewish and Arab donors. The law is devoid of any legal content.”

MK Yael German (Yesh Atid) said the bill “shames and slanders NGOs which criticize the government’s work. Someone recently said that there are buds of fascism in the country. That is what there is in this law – buds of fascism against organizations that promote human rights.”

MK Michal Rozin (Meretz) said the bill clearly “persecutes” NGOs, and called to “throw out of the Knesset legislators who introduce such bizarre laws.”

MK Osama Sa’adi (Joint Arab List) said, “There is a person who contributes tens of millions of dollars to an NGO through a company that is listed in Panama. If we are talking about transparency, then an NGO which is hiding its funds should reveal its sources [of funding].”

MK Revital Swid (Zionist Camp) said the bill was introduced solely “for the political gain of parties that want to show their public that they acted and labeled.”

MK Micky Rosenthal (Zionist Camp) stated that the purpose of the law is to “poke in the eye and say ‘Here, we did it to you on purpose.'” He said NGOs will easily find a way to circumvent the law.

Back in January, Bild, Germany’s largest circulation daily newspaper, supported Shaked’s NGO transparency bill, which had been attacked as anti-democratic by a Washington Post editorial. Bild noted that the criticism of the bill ignores the fact that millions of foreign dollars are given each year to anti-Israeli NGOs which operate inside Israel and support the boycotts against the Jewish State. Can the bill, which merely requires those NGOs to openly reveal their funding sources, really be compared to Putin’s blatantly anti-democratic rule, Bild was wondering.

David Israel

Reform Insulted by Haredi Walkout in Knesset Committee

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016

The Reform movement in Israel has launched a complaint to the Knesset Ethics Committee against United Torah Judaism MKs Moshe Gafni, Israel Eichler, Uri Maklev and Yakov Asher, for walking out of a Knesset Interior Committee room during a debate over the Mikvahs Law. The Ethics Committee has forwarded the complaint to the UTJ faction, requesting an explanation.

The complaint was sent by attorney Gilad Kariv, who serves as Executive Director of the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism, said: “In the name of the Movement for Progressive Judaism in israel we’d like to launch a complaint against the Knesset Members from the UTJ and Shas factions over their repeated behavior of leaving in a demonstrative manner Knesset committee debates whenever a speaker associated with Reform or Conservative Judaism gets the floor.”

“This behavior has been going on for several years,” Kariv wrote, “and it was most recently exposed in a debate of the Interior and Environmental Protection Committee, June 13, 2016. The debate revolved around the proposed Religious Jewish Services bill (Regulation of Intended Use of Ritual Bath amendment) 5776-2016, which directly touches on these two movements, their rabbis and members. As yours truly received the floor from Committee Chairman MK David Amsalem, MKS Moshe Gafni, Israel Eichler, akov Asher and Uri Maklev left the room in a demonstrative manner.”

Kariv argued that the departure was particularly egregious since these four MKs were among the endorsers of the bill, and their refusal to attend a hearing with citizens about the new legislation is an affront to the parliamentary process and to democracy. After all, Kariv argued, “this is why the legislator has decided on committee hearings airing a variety of opinions, including those which contradict the position of the one who proposes the bill.”

Kariv called the MKs’ behavior vulgar and said it undermines the principles of the legislative process, as well as the public and ethical obligations of MKs.

The website Bhol.co.il which reported the complaint noted that Haredi MKs have been for many years in the habit of leaving the room whenever a Reform speaker gets the floor.

David Israel

Despite Pressure, Ethics Committee Votes to Keep MKs Off Temple Mount

Tuesday, June 14th, 2016

The Ethics Committee on Tuesday voted to uphold its decision from seven months ago, banning Knesset Members from entering the Temple Mount compound. In its November 2015 decision the committee said it had been told by senior Israel Police officials that visits by MKs to the holy site in eastern Jerusalem would significantly deteriorate the security situation throughout the country.

The Ethics Committee stated that, until further notice, visiting the Temple Mount, which is holy to both Jews and Muslims, may be considered an ethics violation that carries sanctions. It cited the ethics rule that MKs are supposed to act for the good of the country.

The Ethics Committee said it discussed the matter again on Tuesday following pleas by committee member MK Yousef Jabareen (Joint Arab List) and Jewish MKs. Jerusalem District Police Commander Major-General Yoram Halevy briefed the committee and said that for the time being Police position on the ban remains unchanged.

The committee said it was further informed that in light of the relatively calm situation, Israel Police is considering allowing Arab MKs to visit the Temple Mount towards the end of the month of Ramadan, and allowing Jewish lawmakers to visit the site as well after the Ramadan and the Eid al-Fitr holiday.

“In light of what the committee has heard, it has reached a majority decision to uphold its previous decision for the time being,” the Ethics Committee said in statement, adding that it would change the decision should the security forces decide that MKs may be allowed to visit the Temple Mount once again.

David Israel

Knesset Committee Wants Less War on Cannabis, More War on Alcohol

Thursday, June 9th, 2016

MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz), Chair of the Knesstet Committee to Combat Drug and Alcohol Abuse, was highly critical this week of the new campaign of the Israel Anti-Drug Authority. She suggested the campaign was “based on false information, outdated, archaic, irrelevant, and most important — disappointing.” She added: “After all this time that we’ve been sitting here, exposed to the real danger of youth addiction, I for one am disappointed.”

It should be noted that MK Zandberg is a known supporter of the legalization of cannabis, and in 2013 submitted a bill decriminalizing personal use of Marijuana. She has been a supporter of the fight of medical cannabis patients against the Health Ministry, and was a guest speaker at a 2013 rally for legalization at Rabin Square. She said in a television interview that she smokes cannabis and views this as “normative behavior.”

Acting Director General of the Authority, Eitan Gorni, told the committee that “we think cannabis is dangerous. After a long time during which we haven’t dealt with cannabis, and in light of the great outcry and the attempt to say that cannabis is not dangerous it was decided to launch a broad advertising campaign. In light of the numerous attempts on the part of the side that supports Marijuana to deliver messages, we believe there should be counter messages, which is why we launched the campaign.”

One 15-second radio ad in the new campaign features a mother who says her daughter was destroyed by using Marijuana, followed by an anchor saying there’s no such thing as light drugs.

Meanwhile, the committee was informed that the Israel Anti-Drug Authority CEO, Yair Geller, has resigned last May, about a year and a half after being suspended for his role in the bribery scandal involving Yisrael Beiteinu, and eight months after police recommended his indictment for bribery, fraud, and breach of trust. During his 17 months of suspension, Geller grossed close to $208,000 in salary and bonuses, according to media reports.

Eitan Eckstein, director of a rehab center, also warned the committee against taking cannabis use lightly. “Go to the beaches and see for yourselves what joints are doing to people. Most of the girls started with grass and it led them to prostitution. On the eve of summer vacation it’s a time to invest a lot in telling parents to set limits, and that if they suspect something untoward they should seek advice.”

Chair Zandberg suggested that “alcohol is much more dangerous, which is why I’m disappointed that you invest in a campaign against a future [cannabis] legislation [instead of fighting youth alcohol use].”

MK Merav Ben Ari (Kulanu) told the committee, “When I was working with youths I had a much tougher time with alcohol than with cannabis.” Turning to the You have to the Israel Anti-Drug Authority officials, she added, “You must understand that you can’t keep devoting your budgets to cannabis. I get the feeling that all you’re campaigning against is cannabis.”

David Israel

Heated Debate at Education Committee Emergency Session on Pro-BDS Israeli Academics

Wednesday, June 8th, 2016

A stormy emergency session was held Wednesday at the Knesset Education, Culture, and Sports Committee, following a report released by the rightwing Im Tirtzu movement that revealed the involvement of 20 Israeli academics in the proposed resolution of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) to join the boycott against Israel. The debate revolved around academic politicization and the support given by university faculty members to boycotts against Israel.

The emergency session was called by MK Oded Forer (Yisrael Beitenu), who said that “Israel cannot support and budget lecturers who call for a boycott against Israel. The boycott movement is an anti-Semitic movement, and they (the lecturers) cannot hide behind freedom of expression.”

Forer announced his plan to introduce legislation that would allow the State to prevent an institution of higher learning from receiving funds that amount to the salary of a lecturer who calls for a boycott against Israel.

Professor Zvi Ziegler, who heads an inter-university forum to combat the academic boycott, said that “the number of lecturers who support an academic boycott against Israel is so small and marginal – damaging but marginal – that it would not be worth it to deal with them. The damage they cause is a lot less severe than the damage that would be caused to Israel’s reputation as an enlightened and advanced country if we fight them.”

Matan Peleg, director of Im Tirtzu, told the committee that “this phenomenon must be stopped for the sake of the future of Israeli academia.”

MK Shuli Moalem-Refaeli (Habayit Hayehudi) said: “Could it be that the Arab Members of Knesset are doing the same thing as professors in the State of Israel – receive money and call to boycott the country? I ask myself, who learned from whom?”

MK Yoel Hasson (Zionist Camp) said that while he supports a two-state solution, “the academic boycott hurts the chances of a shared existence.”

MK Mordhay Yogev (Habayit Hayehudi) urged the Council for Higher Education of Israel “to discuss this unacceptable phenomenon, so that there will be respectful rather than inciting academic freedom.”

MK Yoseph Yonah (Zionist Camp), himself a university professor, stressed that while he is against boycotts and the BDS movement, “a democracy’s strength lies in its ability to accept criticism.” He further argued that any initiative aimed at restricting academic freedom would cause much more damage.

MK Nachman Shai (Zionist Camp) said, “This debate is not between Jews and Arabs, or for or against BDS, because most of us are against BDS. We must check to see who is breaking the law and who isn’t.”

MK Manuel Trajtenberg (Zionist Camp) said Israel should fight the BDS movement “while preserving the values of democracy.” He noted that among the thousands of university faculty members in Israel, there are between three and ten lecturers who support the boycott, “and I am revolted by their actions and denounce them.”

MK Yousef Jabareen (Joint Arab List) said, “This is an example of academic freedom under attack. Those who create politicization in the academia are the members of Im Tirtzu, with their amateurish report. We are sick and tired of this system of muzzling and restricting every democratic value in the country. Leave us alone. As for BDS, it is a non-violent protest that succeeded in South Africa, and it is legitimate to operate in this manner here as well.”

MK Merav Ben Ari (Kulanu), who serves as deputy chairperson of the Education Committee, chaired the meeting in place of Committee Chairman Yakov Margi (Shas), who did not attend in protest of the comments allegedly made by Channel 10 News Chairman Rami Sadan against his party and its leader, Interior Minister Aryeh Deri.

JNi.Media

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/heated-debate-at-education-committee-emergency-session-on-pro-bds-israeli-academics/2016/06/08/

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