Veteran benefit bill won't be brought to vote this summer

Livni denies accusations of breaking "deal" to push bill through this week; Weinstein reviewing more moderate version.

By
July 18, 2013 18:30
2 minute read.
Reserve soldiers prepare to deploy in Ashkelon

Reserve soldiers prepare to deploy in Ashkelon 370. (photo credit: marc israel sellem / the jerusalem post)

A bill granting IDF veterans benefits in employment, higher education, buying land and other areas remained under Justice Minister Tzipi Livni’s veto this week, pushing off its possibility of being brought to a vote until the Knesset’s winter session.

Sources close to coalition chairman Yariv Levin (Likud Beytenu) accused Livni of breaking a deal between them, in which she would remove her veto if Levin wrote a “softer” version of the legislation with Knesset legal adviser Eyal Yinon, but Livni’s office said she is waiting for Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein’s opinion.

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According to Levin’s original bill, those who served the country can be preferred in hiring practices, receive higher salaries and get better services without it being considered discrimination.

In addition, those who serve will be preferred in receiving dormitory rooms in universities and in purchasing land, and there will be affirmative action for them to work in civil service positions.

The Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved Levin’s bill a month ago, however, Weinstein immediately said it is unconstitutional, discriminatory and goes against the principle of equality, so Livni vetoed it.

Levin submitted a new version of the bill Monday, which he wrote in cooperation with Yinon.

The new legislation limits benefits for veterans to seven years after they finish IDF or civilian service or for the duration of their reserve duty. In addition, veterans will not get preference in civil service jobs, but employers in the private sector may prefer to hire veterans without it being regarded as discriminatory.

According to a source close to Levin, Livni promised to remove her veto once the more moderate version of the bill was proposed.

However, the veto remained on Wednesday, the last possible day to bring up new bills in the Knesset’s summer session, to Levin’s dismay.

Next week is the last week of the summer session, which is to be mostly dedicated to budget votes. The Knesset is to renew its activities in October, though the government can call the legislature to vote on important bills during the interim.

“There was no deal. We’re waiting for the attorney-general’s opinion. This is a matter of principle; it’s not political,” Livni’s spokeswoman explained. “This is the standard way the Justice Ministry works.”

The new version of Levin’s bill was brought to Weinstein for review, the Attorney- General’s Office asked for more time to give an educated opinion, and Livni, as Justice Minister, preferred to wait for his approval before removing the veto.

“[Weinstein’s] opinion that the original version was constitutionally problematic was resolute. We need to be sure that this version is fine, and then we’ll remove the veto,” Livni’s spokeswoman said.


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