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August 27, 2016 / 23 Av, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Knesset’

Knesset Considers Bill to Require Zionism Course in Universities

Monday, August 1st, 2016

Israel is considering a bill to require Israeli universities to include a prerequisite course on Zionist concepts in their curricula.

The bill was submitted to the Knesset by Yisrael Beytenu Knesset Member Oded Forer.

The measure is intended to counter the anti-Israel trend that has been seen among many of the academics.

It is also hoped the course will help students become citizens who are more aware of their heritage.

The course is expected to include texts from founding fathers such as David Ben Gurion, Menachem Begin, Yitzchak Rabin, and others.

Hana Levi Julian

Police Order MK Yehuda Glick to Ride Armored Car

Monday, August 1st, 2016

Mk Yehuda Glick (Likud), who lives in the community of Otniel in Judea and Samaria, enjoys a Knesset security detail and drives an armored car, in accordance with police directives, Knesset Officer Joseph Griff revealed in a meeting of the Committee on the Knesset Budget. The committee approved budgeting $530 thousand for purchasing armored vehicles for MKs. Added to an already existing $530 thousand in the budget to the same end, the replacement of both vehicles will cost $1.05 million, The Marker reported Monday.

The committee has settled on buying two Toyota Land Cruisers, to serve MKs driving in Judea and Samaria. The overall security budget for individual MKs comes to roughly $2 million.

The armored vehicles that are being replaced, according to Griff, are older cars, from 2006 and 2008, which spend too much time in the shop waiting for parts. The current fleet of armored cars is not big enough to accommodate every MK whose assigned vehicles are being repaired.

Griff added that the armored vehicles assigned to Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein and to Opposition Leader Isaac Herzog are also problematic. Most of the problems, Griff said, have to do with the heavy armor.

The Knesset paid its employees an additional half million dollars for overtime in 2016, because so many plenum sessions stretched into the wee hours. In this context, Zionist Camp whip MK Merav Michaeli protested the government’s decision to submit 15 new bills for first hearings this week, taking advantage of the fact that the summer vacation is around the corner. Michaeli announced that her faction retains its democratic right to filibuster, even at the expense of MKs’ summer fun.

And just in case you were wondering where all this extra money came from, Knesset accountant Haim Avidor said the money will come from a special budget reserve kept for just these kinds of miscellaneous items.

David Israel

Knesset Considering Tax Breaks for Judea and Samaria Communities Facing Security Threats

Thursday, July 28th, 2016

The Knesset plenum on Wednesday approved in a preliminary reading a bill that would make communities in Judea and Samaria eligible for tax breaks based on the security threats they face.

The so-called “benefits map” approved by the Knesset in 2015 fixed standard criteria for awarding the benefits based on socio-economic criteria. The bill, sponsored by MK Bezalel Smotrich (Habayit Hayehudi) would add security risks to the criteria entitling Judea and Samaria communities to benefits.

The criteria would be based on Defense Ministry assessments of the security risks communities face in a manner similar to the way benefits are awarded to Israel’s border communities.

The explanatory notes accompanying the bill state that the tax breaks are meant to “encourage strong populations to reside in areas the state views as serving a national interest” and “add to the benefits map those communities in Judea and Samaria facing security threats.”

“Settlements in Judea and Samaria have for years stood up heroically against continuous terror inside the communities and on the roads. We need to encourage them with, among other things, tax benefits,” the bill’s preface reads.

Prior to the vote, MK Smotrich said, “This law will enable thousands of families living in Judea and Samaria, who suffer from security threats, to receive what they deserve and to be equal in rights to the rest of Israel’s residents. The national government is returning Judea and Samara to the settlement map. There’s a long way to go, but this is a step in the right direction.”

Meretz MK Esawi Frej said, “Have you heard of the Yotvata dairy farm? It should [learn from] Smotrich how to milk the state. You are milking the state using all kinds of improper methods. You [have the nerve] to take an additional 150 million shekel (about $40 million) for a few outposts.”

42 MKs supported the bill in its preliminary reading, and 36 opposed. The bill will now be sent to the House Committee, which will determine which committee will prepare it for its first reading.

David Israel

Liberman to Arab MK: Conditions at Checkpoints Are Unreasonable, Harmful

Wednesday, July 27th, 2016

In a question-and-answer session in the Knesset this week, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman Addressed a question by MK Abd Al Hakeem Haj Yahya (Joint Arab List) about the conditions at checkpoints in Judea and Samaria, Liberman said “What’s happening at checkpoints is unreasonable, and there is no doubt it harms our security.”

“There are three authorities that deal with this issue — the Airports Authority, Defense Ministry and Public Security Ministry, and this creates a complicated chaos,” Liberman explained.

Liberman expressed his hope that the matter will be taken care of in next year’s budget, “to improve things from every perspective – security and humanitarian.”

Liberman was asked by MK Yoel Hasson (Zionist Camp) about the reconciliation agreement with Turkey and whether it constitutes recognition of the Hamas’ regime in Gaza. “Our starting point must be Egypt,” the defense minister said. “It is our most important, serious ally in the Middle East. How will it affect our relations with Egypt? Personally, I’ve invested a lot of effort in building relations of trust and cooperation [with Egypt]. There are many other considerations here which we must take into account.”

MK Orly Levi-Abekasis asked Liberman why IDF soldiers who became disabled during the 2014 Operation Protective Edge have yet to receive the benefits they deserve. “There is an absolute commitment to this issue, and those who are dealing with it are doing so with dedication. It has been examined in the various committees, and as a minister I have to trust those professional echelons. The disabled themselves are part of the formulation of those benefits. Intense debates are being held in order to improve their situation,” Liberman answered.

MK Masud Ganaim (Joint Arab List) asked the defense minister about his summoning of Army Radio commander Yaron Dekel regarding a program on Arab poet Mahmoud Darwish which was aired by the station. “It is okay to air an episode on Darwish, but in the framework of ‘know your enemy,’ together with the mufti and Goebbels,” Liberman retorted.

Asked by MK Michal Rozin (Meretz) about his decision to revoke the entry permit to Israel of senior Palestinian Authority official Mohammed al-Madani, Liberman said, “Part of the tradition in the Palestinian Authority is that the same people who at nighttime deal with harming Israel and worked hard to annihilate the State of Israel, during the daytime speak a lot about brotherhood among the nations, peace, and so forth.”

The minister noted that he cannot make such a decision alone. “There is the opinion of the Shin Bet (General Security Service) and the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories. They are certainly not political people. Only after they tell me in writing that they strongly suggest [a permit be revoked] do I perform the formal act.”

Al-Madani, the minister said, “is not an innocent person who thinks about brotherhood and peace between Jews and Arabs.”

“Questions Hour” is a new parliamentary feature in the Knesset’s plenary sessions. Each year, the opposition has the right to invite 10 ministers to answer questions they did not see in advance. One of those times, it can be the prime minister. At least three-quarters of the questioners must come from the ranks of the opposition.

JNi.Media

Knesset Committee Quarrels with Anti-Drug Officials over Colorado Legalized Weed

Wednesday, July 27th, 2016

The Committee on Drug and Alcohol Abuse, chaired by MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz), is interested in drawing applicable conclusions from the legalization of soft drugs in Colorado.

“It’s been four years into the legalization in Colorado and the sky did not fall,” Zandberg said during the committee’s meeting last Monday. “When things are legalized, the assumption is that more people smoke legally and report it.”

Dr. Adi Inbar, from the Knesset Research and Information Center, presented the figures of the first year of legalization in Colorado: “The main conclusion is that it is too early to determine the effects of this move, the future trends and its implications on other places”.

Dr. Yossi Harel-Fisch, Chief Scientist of the Israel Anti-Drug Authority, said, “The result deriving from meetings of professionals from all around the world is that not enough time has passed to draw conclusions. We are worried about some trends – Colorado is unique also within the US for its high rates of drug use over the years. According to the figures, Colorado is placed first among the 50 states in marijuana use among youth aged 12-17.”

Harel-Fisch presented additional figures showing an increase of 32% in the number of students who are expelled from school due to drug-related issues, as well as an increase in marijuana use among students, a 30% rise in emergency room visits due to the use of soft drugs and an increase of 44% in the number of people killed while driving under the influence of soft drugs.

MK Sharren Haskel (Likud) said, “It is strange that people from the Knesset Research and Information Center say that there are no unequivocal figures, and yet the Israel Anti-Drug Authority presents unequivocal facts. It creates an uneasy feeling.”

Dr. Harel-Fisch replied that “The rates are not precise and therefore do not prove a causative relationship. There are many interpretations but no clear conclusions.”

Committee Chairwoman Zandberg replied: “It is unclear why cannabis stands for itself, it should be considered the same as any other substance on the list. While we see a moderate increase in cannabis use, we see a rise in designer drugs which cause harm. In Colorado figures show that the crime rate is declining, as is the number of road accidents. . . . and a new figure shows a drop in the use of medicine parallel to the increase in cannabis use.”

MK Michal Rozin (Meretz) stated that “The main concern is for children and teenagers, and the question is whether legalization was made alongside an educational plan. During a visit to the Geha Mental Health Center yesterday, I was told of an increase in the purchase of the ‘Nice Guy’ drug, which causes a rise in violence towards staff and mental patients.”

Orit Shapiro, Head of the Prevention and Education Division at the Israel Anti-Drug Authority, noted that “over the past few years we have found that some youths are confused as to what is allowed and what is not dangerous. Legalizing would have immediate implications on the use of drugs – if it is allowed by law, then it must be fine.”

In response, MK Zandberg said, “There is an improper situation here, and you claim that the discourse is harmful. We are trying to have an intelligent discussion — alcohol is a more dangerous drug than cannabis, designer drugs as well, and my feeling is that because cannabis is considered criminal — you cling to the horns of the altar.”

MK Dov Khenin (Joint List), said “Criminal law today does not reduce cannabis purchase, but it [negatively influences] the attitude towards criminal law. We must reexamine the policy and should begin with no incrimination. It will enable us to combine criminal law with the symptoms which should actually be tackled”.

JNi.Media

Knesset Committee Discovers Significant Drop in Immigrant Youth Crime

Tuesday, July 26th, 2016

The past 15 years have seen a significant decline in crime committed by immigrant youth – from 23% of all minors involved in crime in 2001, to only 6% in 2013, this according to a study commissioned by the Yedidim social services organization. These figures were revealed during Monday’s meeting of the Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs, and Committee Chairman MK Avraham Neguise (Likud) stressed that “in light of the success of the organization’s ‘A Second Chance (Sikuim)’ program, the Education, Welfare, Immigrant Absorption and Public Security ministries must significantly increase their support for the program, mainly because rehabilitation and prevention save the state hundreds of thousands of shekels.”

Neguise noted that some 30% of imprisoned immigrant teenagers are of Ethiopian descent. Many of them have been to prison before, he said.

Yedidim’s website describes the second chance program as “a strategic partnership between the Ministry of Immigrant Integration, the police, the Ministry of Welfare, local municipalities and Yedidim designed to offer [immigrant juvenile delinquents] an opportunity for a fresh start and a clean slate.”

Yedidim Executive Director Shimon Siani said the program is aimed at “saving children and their families from a general deterioration.”

Professor David Leiser of Ben-Gurion University, who conducted the study, noted that for every shekel the state invests in preventing delinquency or rehabilitating a juvenile delinquent, it will save 5-10 shekels in the future by avoiding the delinquent’s imprisonment, compensating those hurt by the delinquent, etc.

Adva Meltzer, a social worker in charge of the program, spoke about the rehabilitation of 620 youths with the help of 400 tutors who are in charge of re-integrating the youths in the community. The tutors volunteer and assist weaker communities, provide life-skills and accompany parents, with an emphasis on multiculturalism.

Ilan Shemesh, manager of the National Youth Advancement department in the Ministry of Education, also praised the program, its success and the student-tutor guidance. However, he said his office grants only a modest amount of funds for the program. This is not the case in the instances of imprisoned youth, youth villages and rehab villages, in which the office invests hundreds of millions of shekels, and as a result many of the youths enrolled there complete their education and are entitled to a high school matriculation exam certificate.

According to Sarah Cohen, head of the Welfare Services Department at the Absorption Ministry, the program began as an initiative of the government, which manages it. She explained that Yedidim was chosen as an operational organization, and “does so successfully and with dedication.” She noted that the Ministry for the Development of the Negev and Galilee assisted in funding the program in other cities.

JNi.Media

Knesset Passes Law Assigning Running State Mikvahs to Chief Rabbinate

Tuesday, July 26th, 2016

Following a lengthy debate and numerous objections, on Monday night the Knesset plenum passed the amended Jewish Religious Services Bill by a 41 to 35 majority. The amended law, proposed by MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) and endorsed by several MKs, will require that state-run mikvahs-ritual baths be subject solely to the directives of the Chief Rabbinate. The law will take effect within nine months of its passage in order to allow preparation for the new amendment.

The explanation attached to the bill reads, “Since the inception of the State of Israel, the mikvahs have been used for halakhic traditions and customs, and for this purpose they were allotted public funding for construction and maintenance. In the wake of petitions by entities wishing to destroy the accepted foundations of Judaism that have been in existence for thousands of years, the High Court has ruled that various sects should be permitted to use the mikvahs to their various ends.”

MK Aliza Lavie (Yesh Atid) said that “this is the first time that a mikvah, which is a place of purity, has become a place of exclusion. We view this as discrimination under primary legislation.”

“Others who are hurt by this are, of course, our Jewish brothers and sisters in the Diaspora,” Lavie continued. “Once again they receive the ‘heartwarming’ message that the State of Israel doesn’t count them in. Not at the Western Wall, or in marriages, or in conversions, and now at the mikvahs, too — you have no place in the State of Israel.”

“This law is neither Jewish, nor legal, nor democratic,” Lavie added.

Meretz Chair MK Zehava Galon said the law is part of a “battle over the face and character of Israeli society.” Turning to the ultra-Orthodox MKs, Galon said, “You feel threatened? Why? Because someone is trying to undermine your monopoly over the Rabbinate, over Orthodoxy, over a pluralistic and equal life here?”

MK Ksenia Svetlova (Zionist Camp) said, “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stated so many times that every Jew, wherever he may be, should consider Israel his national home. So what do they do in order that a Jew feel at home in Israel? They do not allow him to wed in a civil marriage; they do not allow him to be buried next to his loved ones if he is defined as someone who is not worthy of burial in a Jewish cemetery; they do not allow him to convert in an appropriate and respectful manner; and then they pass the Mikvah Law which deals a devastating blow to all those who underwent a Reform or Conservative conversion, which is about 20 percent of all converts.”

MK Yehuda Glick (Likud), who is an Orthodox rabbi, also expressed his objection to the legislation. “MK Gafni, why does it bother you that a Reform woman immerses in a mikvah?” Glick asked the bill’s author. “She does not stop you from immersing. Why do we need this divisiveness? You said the Jewish Agency will build mikvahs (for the non-Orthodox), but a representative of the Agency told me they do not plan to build any,” he said. Glick held a 30-second moment of silence in the plenum in protest of the legislation.

MK Gafni argued back, saying his law is not discriminatory. “All the claims made here that this constitutes a ‘selection’ are baseless,” he said, adding, “There was a violation of the status quo by the High Court of Justice; we asked that the status quo not be violated. Reform Jews in the US don’t have a single mikvah. All of a sudden they need a mikvah over here? This law aims to prevent the Reform from getting this legitimization through the back door.”

Jewish Agency of Israel Chairman Natan Sharansky has released a statement in response to the passage of the bill, saying, “This bill, which offers no solution to the non-Orthodox denominations, circumvents the rulings of the High Court of Justice. It is unfortunate that the bill passed before such a solution was ensured.”

JNi.Media

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/knesset-passes-law-assigning-running-state-mikvahs-to-chief-rabbinate/2016/07/26/

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