The Social Guard’s Knesset Update for the week of November 14th, 2014: a weekly summary of what’s on the Knesset’s socio-economic agenda brought to you by the Social Guard in the Knesset, the Israeli public’s voice for transparency, democracy, and social justice.
The Budget – Israel’s 2015 budget passed its initial reading in the Knesset after being brought in its full and final form to members of the Knesset only hours before the vote.
0% VAT – Yair Lapid’s project for cutting housing taxes for first-time home buyers passed into the final stage vote even though it only gives benefits to specific sectors of Israeli society at the expense of those who did not serve in the army, most notably Arabs and religious Jews.
Meeting of the Ministers Committee – the ministers committee, an entirely non-transparent body made up of high-ranking ministers in the government, met to decide which bills the coalition would and would not support this term. This committee, which meets weekly, has a high level of control over how members of the Knesset will vote.
Yisrael Hayom Bill – a bill aimed at banning Yisrael Hayom, a free newspaper funded by billionaire American Sheldon Adelson, passed its initial reading after the ministers committee, in an unusual decision, allowed for a vote of conscience, meaning that each individual Member of the Knesset was able to choose how he or she wanted to vote on the bill. It now returns to the committee.
The Weekly Observer Update – One of our volunteer observers wrote an eyewitness account of the most recent meeting of the constitution, law, and justice committee that can be accessed here in Hebrew. The subject of the committee session was proposed changes to the partnerships ordinance that could affect the status of private corporations exploring for oil and natural gas in Israel. The meeting was heavily attended by lobbyists and business interests of the oil and gas industries, yet only one of the 13 committee members, Uri Maklev of United Torah Judaism, managed to attend. This result further impressed upon the observer the level of control that lobbyists and business interests have on the Knesset, as the proposed changes could make it more difficult for private companies to gain access to areas for oil and gas exploration.