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July 24, 2016 / 18 Tammuz, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Knesset’

Speaker Edelstein Calls on AG to Conclude Police ‘Blackmail List’ Investigation

Thursday, July 7th, 2016

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein on Wednesday demanded that Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit conclude his examination of a secret Israel Police dossier which reportedly details evidence regarding alleged offenses committed by Knesset members.

In his letter to the Attorney General, Edelstein said, “On June 22, 2016 a meeting was held in my office with the Police Commissioner and the head of the Police Investigations and Intelligence Department regarding the police document that was prepared in 2014 and which summarizes criminal and intelligence information on Knesset members who served at the time. During the meeting I noted the sensitivity (of the matter) and the problematic situation that was created due to the fact that the existence of such a document had been leaked, because it allegedly casts a cloud over all Knesset members, and creates a feeling in the public as if dozens of Knesset members are suspected of criminal acts.”

“I also stressed the importance of publishing an official clarification as soon as possible, to the public and the Knesset members, regarding the list from 2014 and its relevancy, as much as it remains relevant today, so that on the one hand the public will be able to rest assured that Israel Police is doing its job faithfully and is investigating Knesset members when necessary, while on the other hand Knesset members will be certain that police are not holding information against them which could be revealed at some point down the line and hurt their work or chances of obtaining a certain position,” the letter reads.

“In response to my comments, the police commissioner said they were aware of the sensitivity (of the matter) and the harm caused to Knesset members and the Knesset by the reports, and that the list had been submitted for your examination so that an official clarification regarding this list could be released soon,” Speaker Edelstein told Mandelblit.

Edelstein stressed the urgency of concluding the examination and releasing the clarification “in order to minimize the damage caused by the continued reports about the list and by leaving them in the public and media environment without a clarification or official statement from the authorized elements.”

Meanwhile, Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh appeared before the Knesset’s Internal Affairs Committee on Wednesday and justified the document. “It was drafted so that it wouldn’t turn out later that there was something we should have reported to the State Prosecutor and Attorney General and for some reason it got stuck and did not surface [to be reviewed by] a person with authority.”

Israel’s Channel 10 News revealed last month the existence of a document nicknamed “The Yitzhaki Report” that was compiled under order of the head of the police investigations unit Maj. Gen. Meni (Menachem) Yitzhaki.

During the Knesset committee meeting, Yitzhaki told the Internal Affairs Committee that the document was written in order to comply with the attorney general`s guidelines.

Committee Chairman MK David Amsalem (Likud) said: “The head of Investigations and Intelligence Branch has power by virtue of his position. Power corrupts, and great power corrupts more. Therefore, he must act with caution.”

“I read that 80 percent of police officers use internal information for their own personal needs. It is obvious that there is information being used by people who do not have the authority to do so,” MK Amsalem added. “Something terrible is happening here. Is the information only on Knesset members? Perhaps there is information about the commissioner? Maybe there are summaries on major generals in the police force? Or on judges and journalists? I don’t think Yitzhaki acted maliciously, but there is always potential for wrongful use.”

JNi.Media

Knesset Passes Postal ‘Sender Information’ Law

Wednesday, July 6th, 2016

Israelis now can choose whether or not to accept that scary-looking lawyer’s letter from Tel Aviv, even if they still don’t know what it says inside.

The Knesset has passed a law requiring postal authorities to provide the details of the sender to a recipient of a registered letter or package before signing for the item.

The bill, sponsored by MKs Uri Maklev and Moshe Gafne, passed its second and third reading in the Knesset plenum on Wednesday.

Under the new law, the Israel Postal Authority must include information about the sender on all registered letters as well as on the notification form left at the door when a recipient is not there to take the package, or in a person’s mailbox.

Such information can allow a recipient to decide whether or not to accept the letter or package, the bill’s sponsors pointed out.

In the case of packages sent from overseas, that information can be worth money: Israel charges the recipient hefty fees for items sent from the U.S. and some other countries that are worth more than a bare minimum.

Notification slips in Israel usually are stuck on the door with an illegible scribble and a few check marks that may reveal the date the item was sent, but rarely anything else.

Hana Levi Julian

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

MK Zoabi Curses Out IDF Soldiers Until MK Hazan Stops Her, Much Brouhaha Follows [video]

Wednesday, June 29th, 2016

MKs Hanin Zoabi (Joint Arab List) and Zehava Galon (Meretz) were removed from the Knesset on Wednesday after a storm that erupted in response to vile allegations made by Zoabi as part of the daily agenda proposals. The Arab MK spoke in response to the rapprochement agreement between Israel and Turkey, but her language was so rude and offensive, MK Oren Hazan (Likud) felt obligated to interrupt her, at which point the rest of the House started to pay attention, and crowded the podium demanding that the offending MK be removed from the plenum. When MK Galon asked the Deputy Speaker, Hamad Amar (Yisrael Beiteinu), why he’s not removing Hazan as well, the Deputy Speaker removed her from the plenum.

MK Zoabi began her statement saying, “I stood here six years ago. Remember the incitement, the hatred and the noise back then? And where have we arrived? An apology and reparations to the families of those who were once called terrorists. They, who confronted the soldiers, were trying to prevent an act of piracy of the Shayetet (Naval special forces) that probably was looking to kidnap and murder.”

At which point Hazan called out, “You’re talking about the soldiers? You should be named Captain Hook. You are a pirate, supporting terrorism, rukhi (Arabic for go away) to Gaza.”

MK Amar, a Druze who served in the IDF from 1982 to 1986 (he also holds a fifth degree black belt in Martial Arts) told the plenum that Zoabi wished to apologize. But when she received the floor she demanded an apology on behalf of “all the political activists who were on the [Turkish boat Mavi] Marmara, and an apology to MK Hanin Zoabi whom you attacked and persecuted for six years. All of you need to apologize, all the MKs in this building.”

Hazan continued to cut her off, calling her, “Traitor, you are the national inciter, go to Gaza.” He then turned to Amar, saying, “There’s a limit to everything, take her off the podium.”

“He who committed the murder must apologize. You need to apologize,” Zoabi persisted. But at that point the plenum had erupted in a storm, with many MKs. crowding the podium and demanding that Zoabi be removed. Finally, Amar ordered her removed saying that she “lied” when she told him she wished to apologize.” Which is when MK Galon stood up to inquire how come Hazan, who also interrupted the proceedings, had not been removed — so she was removed, too. Then MK Mickey Levy (Yesh Atid) was removed for yelling “Traitors” at the Balad party MKs (Balad is one of the four factions in the Joint Arab List).

By now the Knesset resembled one of those eastern European or Asian parliaments, where the members take to fisticuffs when words would no longer do. Hazan was thrown out, several Arab MKs followed, the speaker, who had long since lost all hope of controlling the proceedings just kept on yelling at everyone in his field of vision. It was a brawl, but without actual violence, only the Knesset ushers were busy gently manhandling the MKs so they won’t hurt one another.

Outside the plenum, Zoabi told reporters: “Israel did not disengage from Gaza, Israel disengaged Gaza from the world and from life. I demand an apology, and I want reparations, which I will donate to the children of Gaza, and to the next flotillas.”

The entire afternoon was a kind of Déjà vu: on May 31, 2010, Zoabi participated in the Gaza flotilla, and was on board the Mavi Marmara when violence broke out as Israeli commandos were attacked with metal rods, knives, broken bottles and the kitchen sink as they were trying to board and take over the ship. Zoabi was arrested. At a later news conference, Zoabi called the raid criminal, saying she had witnessed two wounded passengers bleed to death after the Israelis refused to provide medical aid. She also stated, “It was clear from the size of the force that boarded the ship that the purpose was not only to stop this sail, but to cause the largest possible number of fatalities in order to stop such initiatives in the future.”

That was a blatant lie, as could be seen in the videos taken during the event, showing the IDF soldiers coming down a rope from a chopper, to be showered with punches, blows and cuts. There were easier ways to cause fatalities, if that were on the IDF’s mind.

In a speech at the Knesset one day after her release, MK Zoabi called the raid a “pirate military operation” and demanded an international investigation. She also demanded to know why the Israeli government had not released photos and videos it confiscated from passengers that might shed light on why nine passengers were killed and dozens wounded. During her address she also said, “Israel spoke of a provocation, but there was no provocation. Why does the government of Israel oppose an investigation?”

Of course, the videos that were released showed ample provocation and then some.

Zoabi was repeatedly interrupted and shouted down during that initial speech in 2010 by other lawmakers, one of whom shouted “Go to Gaza, traitor!” The chaos reached a peak when MK Anastasia Michaeli (Yisrael Beiteinu) charged the podium in an attempt to prevent Zoabi from continuing.

David Israel

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

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/reform-insulted-by-haredi-walkout-in-knesset-committee/2016/06/22/

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