knesset full 248.88.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Had MKs found themselves with more legislative free time during the summer session, the summer vacation might have been characterized by free beaches, candy-free checkout lines and a drastic cutback in circuses.
Although the MKs of the 18th Knesset drafted hundreds of private members' bills, including these and other equally intriguing proposals, the busy plenum schedule kept them from seeing the legislative light of day.
Among the hundreds of private members' bills submitted but not approved over the almost four months of the session was Hadash MK Dov Henin's proposal to ban circus performances in Israel under the law to prevent cruelty to animals.
"This bill would prevent suffering, torture, taking advantage and abuse of animals by forbidding performances that could cause them suffering. For the most part, animals in circuses are required to carry out acts that contradict their natures and which are achieved through cruel means, which cause them great physical and psychological damage," explained Henin.
He added that circuses using only human performers would still be allowed under his bill.
If some MKs had had their way, the summer would have been a bit less sweet, with MK Danny Danon (Likud) proposing in the session's last week a law that would remove the candy displays from supermarkets' checkout counters.
"We must put a stop to the cynical exploitation of parents' weaknesses toward their children carried out by sales agents who are only concerned with money," said Danon earlier this week. "Sweets placed near the cashiers are a 'honey trap' for children and a cash-remover for their parents. Childrens' parents are forced, sometimes as a last resort, to respond to their children's demands and to waste money that these days, many families don't have."
Danon, one of the most legislatively prolific freshman MKs, also coauthored a bill with MK Robert Tibayev (Kadima) specifically targeting beehive thieves - a piece of legislation that could be paired nicely with a bill by MKs Uri Ariel (National Union) and Shai Hermesh (Kadima) to establish a genetic database for cattle. Although honey thieves and cattle DNA may seem like odd choices in light of the more headline-grabbing debate over the human biometric database, both bills were driven by the very serious struggle against agricultural theft.
A handful of other bills also attempted to provide opposition counterpoints to highly publicized government-sponsored legislation. Kadima MKs Majallie Whbee and Shlomo Molla proposed a mini-Mofaz Bill that would allow rebel groups of as few as two within a faction - as long as they constitute at least a quarter of the faction - to split off and form their own or join another Knesset faction.
Health issues were a major focus for private bills during the session, on topics ranging from fertility to mammography. There was a heavy concentration, particularly by Hadash, on providing free dentistry for different risk groups, including children - specifically children undergoing oncological treatment. Freshmen MKs Moshe Matalon (Israel Beiteinu), Rahel Adatto (Kadima) and Nahman Shai (Kadima) joined together to try and reduce obesity among children, explaining that "weight gain during adolescence is not simply an aesthetic problem, but is one of the greatest risk factors for serious chronic diseases."
Some of these bills may yet be revived. Others are buried forever.
In this session, as in previous ones, some of the most interesting pieces of legislation were those that united disparate MKs under a common banner. Perhaps the most extreme example was the Law for the Preservation of Jerusalem's Sanctity, a bill that counted cosponsors from Shas, Kadima, Israel Beiteinu, the Likud, United Torah Judaism, the National Union - and United Arab List chairman Ibrahim Sarsour. The unifying factor? The Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade.
"In Basic Law: Jerusalem the Capital of Israel, Jerusalem received a special stature as the capital of Israel and as a city with a special characteristic of sanctity for three religions: Judaism, Islam and Christianity," the bill states. "In recent years a very sensitive situation has been created in which a small minority has been trying to harm this characteristic... There is an urgent need to determine legally that the religious affairs minister is allowed to prevent public events in Jerusalem that harm religious values held in common."