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January 22, 2017 / 24 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Knesset’

Knesset Debates Kashrut Monopoly and the Calls to Privatize It

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

The Knesset Economics Committee on Monday debated today’s added costs caused by the kashrut certification monopoly and the consequent damage to businesses. Committee Chairman MK Eitan Cabel (Zionist Camp) noted that the debate of this monopoly in his committee has been going on since a year ago, and added that the debate has to mostly do with money.

MK Elazar Stern (Yesh Atid) said that as someone who still objects to the separation of the Jewish State from the Jewish religion, he finds that the Kashrut industry in its current form is doing much to push Jews away from their tradition. He accused Kashrut supervisors of enforcing prohibitions on serving corn on the cub and strawberries in hotels for fear of pests – which they do not obey in their own homes. “You can’t count on the chief rabbinate’s kosher certification because it is corrupt,” Stern said, accusing the rabbinate of enforcing inappropriate, capricious rules.

MK Rachel Azaria (Kulanu), who joined Stern in requesting the committee debate Monday, told the members about the horrors experienced by some businesses who use the rabbinate’s supervision – such as one vendor who was fines for selling candy with “Badatz” certification (considered more stringent than the rabbinate’s) who was nonetheless fined 2,000 shekel because he lacked a rabbinate’s certification for his business. When he appealed, they raised his fine to 4,000 shekel, Azaria said, noting that the kashrut monopoly costs close to $160 million annually.

Neta Moshe, representing the Knesset Research and Information Center, told the committee she was unable to get detailed information regarding the cost of kashrut certification because such detailed data does not exist (not a good sign). She was, however, able to offer the fact that 15 thousand businesses in Israel pay close to $8 million altogether for their certification.

Rabbi Moshe Katz, from the NGO Koshrut, told the committee about his group’s proposed solution to establish a national kashrut company, under rabbinic guidance and kashrut rules, to deal with the employment and distribution of kashrut supervisors according to clear criteria and with full transparency.

Rabbi Katz said that his group, together with the NGO Chotam, suggested establishing three universal kashrut degrees in Israel, normal, high (Badatz) and a third level in between (normal plus?), requiring all the kashrut certification services to commit themselves to one of these standards, to prevent the mass confusion plaguing the industry today.


Netanyahu Tells Knesset Session Honoring Shimon Peres: ‘Peace Will Not Be Achieved at Futile Conferences’

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

During Monday’s special Knesset session honoring the memory of Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the peace summit that took place in Paris a day earlier, saying “peace will not be achieved by force or from above, not at futile conferences, and not by foreign dictates. It can only be achieved in direct negotiations between the sides.”

Netanyahu said that Peres, Israel’s ninth president and former prime minister who died in September at the age of 93, “spoke of a new Middle East; of a world where peace provides security. He wanted an era of rationalism, progress and tolerance between people and nations. Unfortunately, this has not come to pass.”

“The transition to the 21st century has taught us that the waves of fanaticism continue to be high, the forces of radical Islam have become stronger, and the storm they are causing is sweeping the area around us,” the PM told the session, which was held in the presence of President Reuven Rivlin and members of the Peres family. “In these circumstances it is clear – and I believe this was clear to Shimon as well – that alongside our aspirations for peace, we must constantly bolster our strength and prevent harm to our sovereignty.”

Opposition leader MK Isaac Herzog called Peres “one of the greatest leaders of the Jewish people in recent generations.”

“Not necessarily because of his political leadership,” he said, “but due to his groundbreaking activities in all areas, including defense, welfare, the economy, and education. But I think that above all, Shimon Peres will be remembered in Israel’s history books as one who looked reality in the eye and rather than be deterred or try to keep it as is, he chose to change it.”

“It appears”, Herzog said in his speech, “that recently there has been a certain attempt to dim Peres’ peace doctrine; his faith in the two-state vision and [his efforts to achieve] a comprehensive peace with our Palestinian neighbors. Therefore, it is important to remember his doctrine – here and now, in this plenum. Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres marched together towards the bold act in order to preserve the Jewish nation’s one and only democratic state.”

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein said Peres dedicated much of his life, mainly as a politician and public figure, to “realizing his vision of peace between Israel and its neighbors, but, unfortunately, the public discourse on the possibility of realizing this vision, as well as the question of the heavy price many believe this would entail – myself amongst them – have turned ‘peace’ into an offensive term among a large segment of the public.”

This dispute, Speaker Edelstein stated, “continues to tear Israeli society to shreds.”

“Differences of opinion are legitimate and necessary, but not when they get out of control. Here the disagreement quickly turns to hatred, to a deep rivalry, from which the way to incitement and public shaming is short,” he said.

Edelstein said Israelis “will continue to draw strength from Peres’ actions, strength and spirit.”


Knesset Committee Approves ‘V15 Law’ Limiting Campaign Contributions

Monday, January 16th, 2017

The joint committee of the Knesset Committee and the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee chaired by MK Yoav Kisch (Likud) on Monday approved by a vote of 10 to 6 sending to a preliminary plenum vote an amendment to the Party Financing Law. The amendment has been dubbed the “V15 Law” after a subsidiary of the leftwing movement OneVoice that received $349,000 in funding from the US State Dept. to unseat PM Benjamin Netanyahu in the 2015 elections campaign.

The new amendment defines for the first time an “entity active during elections” whose political contributions will be limited by the Party Financing Law, in order to prevent inappropriate interventions of non-party groups in Knesset elections.

The approved bill will set three levels in terms of reporting such activities: up to $26,000 there will be no requirement to report; from $26,000 to $105,000 the contribution must be registered with the State Auditor, but will not entail criminal penalty; but anyone who contributes more than $131,000 (half a million shekel) with fraudulent intent will be subject to criminal penalty.

Chairman Kisch promised to build a “cement wall” to prevent illegal campaign contributions and to guarantee fair elections.


Zionist Union and Yesh Atid Line Up Against MK Ghattas

Monday, January 16th, 2017

By Andrew Friedman/TPS

The Zionist Union Knesset faction called on the (Israel-Arab) Joint List party to work towards firing MK Basel Ghattas from the Knesset, Israel Radio reported Monday. Ghattas was indicted earlier this month on a series of charges related to his December 2016 visit to Palestinian security prisoners at Ketziot Prison.

He is accused of abusing his parliamentary immunity to smuggle cell phones, SIM cards and written materials to the prisoners. The expected indictment will include charges of use of property for purposes of terrorism, fraud and breach of trust by a public worker, fraudulently obtaining benefits under aggravated circumstances.

In addition, the Zionist Union said it would allow faction members to sign a petition to remove Ghattas from the Knesset. Yesh Atid, led by MK Yair Lapid, has also claimed the party would support a move to impeach Ghattas under the terms of a July 2016 impeachment law allowing a super-majority of 70 MKs to initiate impeachment proceedings, including at least 10 members of the parliamentary opposition. A recommendation to remove a sitting member of the Knesset must be approved by at least 90 MKs, upon which the member will be replaced with the next person on the party list.

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Knesset Rejects Bill Calling to Appoint Replacement for Netanyahu ‘Just in Case’

Sunday, January 15th, 2017

With 47 nays and 32 yeas, the Knesset plenum rejected in a preliminary reading a bill submitted by MK Merav Michaeli (Zionist Camp) to compel every sitting government to appoint a replacement for the prime minister who is at the helm, who would be “a heartbeat way” should the PM be rendered unable to carry out his duties.

The opposition bill was submitted against a backdrop of growing expectations that Israel’s police will soon recommend to the state prosecution to open criminal procedures against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The current law gives the PM permission to appoint a substitute, but does not compel him or her to do so. The bill’s author suggests that “this creates a situation whereby, should the prime Minister become unable to carry out his duties, God forbid, the country could experience governmental distress.”

The bill went on to recall that on Dec. 27, 2013, Prime Minister Netanyahu was rushed to hospital, to be released two hours later, and during that time there was no specific person in charge of the government.

On the other hand, the bill continues, when in 2006 then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon fell into a coma, he had luckily appointed a substitute, Finance Minister Ehud Olmert, before falling into a coma. Alas, in 2008 Olmert was forced to leave office in disgrace, but that’s an entirely other kettle of fish.

MKs on both sides of the aisle were painfully (or joyously) aware of the sitting prime minister’s mounting legal problems, which so far have resulted in Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, being questioned by police investigators for many hours each (the PM in two sessions). Prime Minister Netanyahu is facing allegations in several cases, two of which were made public for the first time only this month. The “Case 1000” and “Case 2000,” which are reportedly linked, that he received very expensive gifts and benefits businessmen in Israel and abroad, in return for political favors.


Knesset Committee Sends Visa Ban on BDS Activists to Final Vote

Thursday, January 12th, 2017

The Knesset Interior Committee on Wednesday approved for a second and third (final) plenum vote a bill banning issuing a visa and residency to anyone calling for a boycott against Israel. The bill is sponsored, among others, by MKs Bezalel Smotrich (Habayit Hayehudi) and Roy Folkman (Kulanu).

According to the introductory notes, as part of the State of Israel’s fight against the calls to boycott her, a person who is not an Israeli citizen or permanent resident will not receive an entry visa or any kind of residency permit if they, or the organization they serve, issued call to boycott or a commitment to take part in a boycott. At the same time, the Interior Minister may award a visa or residency for special reasons.

Temporary residents who support boycotts against Israel would not be upgraded to permanent residency, meaning they could be expelled.

Committee Chairman MK David Amsalem (Likud) asked during the debate: “Why should I let into my home someone who slanders and harm my country? We are not afraid of criticism, but we do have national pride/ A person who has already received temporary residency from us, and is in line for permanent residency, gets up and harms us, as our guest, why should we let them stay?”

MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz) said the law’s intent is to “censor those who object to the occupation,” noting that it does not distinguish between boycotts against all of Israel and those against only Judea, Samaria, eastern Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.

MK Smotrich argued against committee members who suggested the new law would be struck down by the Supreme Court, saying it is absolutely proportionate. “Anyone who is not ashamed to receive from us favors and privileges and during his test period (going from temporary to permanent residency) spits in our face – they are the first ones who should lose their visa.”


Knesset Committee Approves Bill To Block Boycott Advocates From Entering Israel

Thursday, January 12th, 2017

The Knesset Internal Affairs and Environment Committee approved a bill Wednesday that will allow the Interior Ministry to block boycott advocates from entering Israel.

The measure now goes to the Knesset plenum for its second and third readings before it is signed into law.

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/knesset-committee-approves-bill-to-block-boycott-advocates-from-entering-israel/2017/01/12/

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