Knesset passes law to protect lone soldier wages in special session

The Knesset held a special session, passing a law for lone soldier and bnot sherut wages and approving several other bills on their first readings.

 Israeli lawmakers are seen raising hands at a special session in the Knesset while the parliament is on recess, in Jerusalem, on August 16, 2023. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Israeli lawmakers are seen raising hands at a special session in the Knesset while the parliament is on recess, in Jerusalem, on August 16, 2023.

The Knesset approved a law protecting payments for lone soldiers in a special session on Wednesday during its summer break.

The Law on Payments to Soldiers in Regular Service passed 11-0, and will ensure that payments paid by the Aliyah and Integration Ministry to new immigrants serving in the IDF or Sherut Leumi (national service) will be protected from transfer, impediment, or garnishment, except in the case of alimony debt. The payments will be protected when they are in the hands of the Aliyah and Integration Ministry Ministry and also in the first 30 days in the bank account.

The notes to the bill said "The Law on Payments to Soldiers in Regular Service was originally intended to protect payments made by the IDF to soldiers in mandatory service due to their socio-economic situation and due to other reasons such as being single soldiers or immigrant soldiers. Later, as part of the legislation of the Civil Service Law, the law was amended so that the protection according to it is given in favor of all payments received by the soldier from the IDF, regardless of financial or personal situation.

“The Aliyah and Integration Ministry also pays, by virtue of internal instructions, various payments to immigrant soldiers serving in mandatory service, in order to enable them to live adequately in the reality in which they live and serve. Since the reasons underlying the protection of payments made by the IDF are also true for payments given by the Aliyah and Integration Ministry, and even more so in light of the difficulties faced by soldiers who are new immigrants, and especially single immigrant soldiers, it is proposed to amend the law and add to the list of protected payments against transfer, garnishment or encumbrance, including the payments granted by the Aliyah and Integration Ministry.”

What other laws did Israeli lawmakers pass?

The Knesset, which started its break at the end of July and was supposed to last until after the Jewish High Holy Days in mid-October. The special session was announced last week, and during it approved all of the bills proposed for their first reading, including the Planning and Construction Law, the Law on Maintaining Cleanliness, the Law Regulating the Practice of Ionizing Radiation, the International Commercial Arbitration Bill, and the Law to Amend the Import and Export Ordinance.

 The Knesset plenum on July 24. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
The Knesset plenum on July 24. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

The bill seeks to grant the Land Enforcement Authority the power to stop certain construction projects that are undergoing without proper authorization. Within their new powers, they could cut off electricity and water - it also extends to completed projects that were built without authorization.

If passed, the new powers would apply to unauthorized construction in places such as national parks, coastal areas, farmland, natural reserves, and public spaces.

Moreover, the bill seeks to shorten the time needed to demolish unauthorized structures

The bill, which passed with 13 MKs in favor and five opposed, will now head to the Interior and Environmental Protection Committee to be debated further.

Hadash Ta’al MK Ahmad Tibi decried the bill as racist, tweeting in response that “Now a bill of the Interior Ministry has been passed its first reading to increase punishment for illegal construction, which includes disconnection from water and phone services in addition to electricity… A shameful and racist proposal.”

The purpose of the bill was stated to extend ”the period for the execution of warrants that will allow for the execution of a larger number of administrative warrants, with the assistance of the police, without placing an unreasonable burden on it, thus saving judicial time from the courts in requests for the extension of warrants.”

Another bill that passed its first reading was Law on Maintaining Cleanliness, which was submitted by the Environmental Protection Ministry and its head Minister Idit Salman.

According to the bill that passed, over the next four years, the government can assist municipalities with trash collection, handling, and management. Assistance will be need-based, according to the socio-economic ranking of the municipality, as per the Central Bureau of Statistics.

This will also include support with hazardous waste and the construction of waste treatment centers in municipalities.

The funds will last until the end of 2027, which the government hopes will give municipalities time to set up sufficient trash management infrastructure for the future.

Silman said in response to the passage that “Over the past few years, it has been found that in the weak local authorities, there is an extreme lack of infrastructure for the storage, collection, and removal of waste, which does not provide a minimum response to the needs of the residents.

“Today's approval will allow for the long-term planning and providing of a solution for treatment in waste to the weakest authorities.”

The next bill which passed its first reading, the Law Regulating the Practice of Ionizing Radiation, was also submitted by the Environmental Protection Ministry. The law seeks to “establish licensing obligations, restrictions, and conditions on operations and services in the field of ionizing radiation.”

Ionizing radiation is defined as a cancer-causing byproduct that can destroy human body cells and cause long-term illness. While the ministry notes the benefits that they bring in fields such as medicine and agriculture, proper safety rules were not in place. “The use of radioactive substances is essential for medicine, industry, and the economy, and we must protect and monitor the sources of radiation and those who deal with these substances, in order to protect public health and the environment. The ministry's bill will streamline and improve the supervision of those dealing with ionizing radiation,” Silman said.

In particular, the bill focuses on licensing, ensuring only trained professionals deal with ionizing radiation and can ensure their work is conducted safely and solely to the public’s benefit.

The Knesset unanimously passed a first reading of the International Commercial Arbitration Bill, which will head to the Constitution and Law Committee for further debate. The law will adapt a previous law on the topic, of regulation of the stages of arbitration in overseas commercial deals.

Also in the field of commerce, a first reading was approved unanimously on the Law to Amend the Import and Export Ordinance - which has been nicknamed the “What is Good for Europe is Good for Israel Law."

Proposed by Economy and Industry Minister Nir Barkat, the new law cuts extra inspections at Israeli ports on products already approved by the European Union - hopefully cutting import times.

Barkat said “What is good for Europe is good for Israel… [the legislation] will allow importers to introduce their products that comply with European regulations to arrive directly on the shelves of the retailers without interruption, reduce bureaucracy, precious time, and save costs for the importer. I thank Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the members of the Knesset from the coalition and the opposition who supported the important law that was approved today without opposition in the Knesset and will benefit all Israeli citizens.”

The Knesset returned to its break after Wednesday’s session, though it could reconvene for any reason prior to the Knesset’s October opening.