Women’s retirement bill jumps first hurdle

in a rare move, coalition chair Elkin (Likud) removed coalition discipline from a vote with serious budgetary ramifications.

Tzipi Hotovely 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Tzipi Hotovely 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
A bill proposed by MK Dalia Itzik (Kadima) to keep the retirement age for women at 62 was approved in its preliminary reading on Wednesday after, in a rare move, coalition chair MK Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) removed coalition discipline from a vote with serious budgetary ramifications that had been proposed by the opposition.
Elkin announced the move after Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat (Likud), Knesset Committee on the Status of Women chairwoman MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud), and MKs from every faction in the coalition said they would support the bill, even if it is counter to the government’s original stance on the issue, and is opposed by Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz.
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After the bill was approved, with 67 in favor and only Steinitz opposed, Itzik said, “this is a happy day for Israel’s women, despite the Finance Ministry’s intentions.”
Similar bills proposed by MK Zahava Gal-On (Meretz) and MK Afo Agbaria (Hadash) also passed their preliminary reading.
In addition, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman spoke out in support of Itzik’s bill on Wednesday morning.
“From the first moment women’s retirement age was on the agenda, Israel Beiteinu had a very clear stance on it, and we will not backtrack,” Lieberman said. “We will oppose any change.”
“I told the heads of the coalition this morning that we will support Dalia Itzik’s bill,” he said.
“Israel Beiteinu is also active in social issues, which are some of the most important decisions made in the Knesset,” the foreign minister pointed out, as MK Orly Levy-Abecasis (Israel Beiteinu), one of the outspoken advocates on the issue, grinned and nodded next to him.
Kadima saw the lack of coalition discipline as a victory.
“The coalition waved a white flag before the battle began,” a party spokesman said. “Male and female MKs announced that they would rebel, and [Elkin] was afraid of losing.”
Last month, the Finance Ministry recommended that the retirement age for women be raised from 62 to 67, which led to an uproar among female and male MKs alike.
At Tuesday’s “emergency conference” on the topic, organized by MK Faina Kirschenbaum (Israel Beiteinu) and MK Zahava Gal-On (Meretz), female MKs and ministers warned of the difficulty women have finding and keeping jobs as they grow older.
“Only half of women over age 50 work full-time, as opposed to 88 percent of men,” Livnat explained.