Rivlin: Knesset set to hold first meeting on fire

Knesset Speaker acquiesces to requests from numerous factions to hold a hearing; fire fighters will attend Knesset Hanukka candle lighting.

December 5, 2010 20:27
3 minute read.
‘THE US does not feel any moral responsibility for

Rivlin 311. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

The Knesset will hold its first discussion of the Carmel forest fire Monday, with the subject opening the week’s plenum agenda in the late morning, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin announced Sunday afternoon.

Rivlin received requests from a number of Knesset faction heads to hold a session on the matter Wednesday, as is customary for discussions on points of order. The speaker, however, decided to push the hearing forward and proposed that the government close Monday’s debate with an official statement upon which the Knesset will take a vote.

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“Israel is in the midst of deep mourning,” said Rivlin. “It is appropriate that the Knesset discuss this national tragedy and address the significance and lessons that can be drawn from it.”

The speaker also plans on hosting dozens of firefighters at the Knesset’s annual candle lighting ceremony on Wednesday in appreciation of their efforts regarding the Carmel blaze.

Rivlin participated Sunday in the funeral of Israel Prisons Service cadet Avraham Noach, a Jerusalem resident who was killed in the fire, and whose wife, Michal, serves in the Knesset Guard.

Less than a day after the IPS bus tragedy, Kadima chairwoman Tzipi Livni announced that in the spirit of national unity, the faction would refrain from presenting its weekly no-confidence motion against the government at the opening of the week’s plenum session. In an official announcement delivered to the Knesset secretary, Livni said that Israel was unified in its support of northern residents, and that it wished to strengthen the security forces in their fire-fighting and restoration efforts.

Also on Monday, the Knesset’s Immigration, Absorption and Public Diplomacy Committee will hold a hearing to coordinate aid efforts from Jewish communities and organizations worldwide.

Committee chairman MK Danny Danon (Likud) said that during the previous 24 hours, a number of Jewish organizations had contacted him, asking his committee to help coordinate donations that they were collecting to restore the Carmel region.

“The great ecological disaster that destroyed a unique natural gem has naturally enlisted many Jews throughout the world to immediately work to restore the Carmel,” said Danon Sunday.

The Interior Committee, however, announced that it had delayed plans to hold a hearing on the fire, with committee chairman MK David Azoulai (Shas) explaining that he would not hold the hearing “while the firefighters, police and rescuers are endangering their lives extinguishing the fire and while families whose loved ones were killed in the tragedy are still burying their family members.”

Azoulai said that the committee would be convened as soon as the emergency services’ representatives were able to come to the Knesset for a “serious hearing.”

Azoulai added that since 2000 he had been warning about the collapse of fire-fighting services, and that for three straight Knesset sessions he had submitted private members’ bills in order to raise their level.

None of his bills, he complained, had made it to their final reading. He added that after one of the most recent committee hearings on Israel’s fire service – held one year ago last week – he wrote letters to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Interior Minister Eli Yishai and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, but the only ministry that even bothered to respond was the Treasury.

To further back up his point Sunday, Azoulai released eight different documents and protocols in which he and his committee had recognized and warned of the risks surrounding continued under-funding of the fire services.

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