A Knesset Law Committee meeting scheduled to prepare a bill aimed at prohibiting anyone from obtaining alcoholic beverages for minors deteriorated on Monday into a discussion of whether or not a grandfather should be allowed to give his grandson kiddush wine without the consent of the child's parents.
The bill, proposed by Kadima MK Yohanan Plessner, is one of a series of legislative acts aimed at reducing violence by restricting drinking by minors and adults. But Plessner's proposal, which addressed a specific problem, got bogged down as the committee tried to include every possible situation.
At least two other MKs, Haim Katz (Likud) and Law Committee chairman David Rotem (Israel Beiteinu) have proposed private member's bills, while the government is preparing a comprehensive bill dealing with the issue.
But Plessner said the government proposal would take a long time, while his bill dealt with the specific goal of cutting down the supply of alcohol available to those under the age of 18.
The bill in its original form, which has already passed a preliminary reading, stated that "anyone who obtains an alcoholic beverage for someone who has not yet reached the age of 18, or who does so at the request of a minor or of someone else will be sentenced to three months in jail."
Rotem, however, said the bill did not go far enough. He suggested clarifying that the law would also apply to minors who provide alcoholic drinks to other minors.
The committee chairman also suggested increasing the sentence to six months to place the punishment on a par with that provided for anyone who sells or provides alcoholic beverages directly to minors.
The committee also discussed the possibility of legally prohibiting other situations, such as that of a grandfather who offers his grandchild a drink of kiddush wine without the explicit permission of the child's parents.
Some of the invited experts tried to cool the ardor of Rotem and other MKs, including Avraham Michaeli (Shas), who was concerned about minors drinking at weddings and other festive occasions.
Attorney Yishai Sharon, the representative of the Public Defender's Office, warned that the law could get out of hand. He said he supported Plessner's original proposal, but added that the Knesset should not enact too many such laws because the police could not enforce them all and because their attention might be deflected from the more important prohibitions, such as the prohibition on the provision of alcohol directly to minors.
Yitzhak Kadman, executive director of the National Council for the Child, urged the committee not to apply the law to minors because it would mean criminal records for those who had broken the law only once, or under innocent circumstances. Furthermore, he urged that instead of handing down jail sentences, the law should call for heavy fines which would be collected immediately. This would prove a better deterrent, he said.