Knesset ‘cleans table’ to end summer session with dozens of bills

New law establishes ombudsperson for State’s Attorneys; “Spam Law” seeks to put an end to robo-calls from charities.

THE KNESSET building.
The Knesset underwent what it calls “table cleaning” overnight Wednesday, clearing the docket of bills that had been worked on in previous months by putting them to a vote in a marathon plenum meeting.
MKs voted on dozens of bills for over 16 hours, until 4 a.m. Thursday, bringing the Knesset’s summer session to an end. The legislature will go back to regular work at the end of October.
Several bills were debated for hours, such as one having to do with the date to establish “Kan,” the public broadcasting corporation that will replace the Israel Broadcasting Authority.
Another controversial bill, which passed a final vote, was one establishing an ombudsman for criticism of state attorneys, which will look into individual complaints about those representing the state in court. The state comptroller will be responsible for systemic review.
An additional bill, involving campaign funds, sparked controversy. The legislation drafted by the Knesset Law, Constitution and Justice Committee allows MKs to fund-raise for up to five months after an election to pay back debts incurred while running in a party primary. The newly passed law does not change the maximum permitted donation to a candidate in a primary, NIS 50,000, and the donations must be reported to the state comptroller. Yesh Atid, whose list is chosen by its leader, Yair Lapid, was the only party to oppose the bill, claiming it is corrupt.
One bill, which passed into law with no opposition, was Zionist Union MK Miki Rosenthal’s “Spam Law,” which will put an end to unsolicited phone calls asking for donations to rabbis’ graves, among other things. Organizations can make one prerecorded phone call, but if they receive a negative answer or no answer, they may not call again. They also may only send one SMS or other text message (such as on the messaging application WhatsApp) asking whether the person receiving the message would like to be added to a mailing list, and if they receive a negative answer or no answer, they may not send more messages to that person. Email is the only method organizations can use to fund-raise from or advertise to the general public, as long as there is an option to be removed from their mailing list. Anyone who receives spam calls and messages will be able to sue the organization for NIS 1,000 to NIS 10,000.
Economics Committee chairman Eitan Cabel (Zionist Union) said his panel dealt with “inappropriate pressure” to block the bill, but that he thinks the final draft takes all sides into consideration.
Rosenthal said, “Our personal phones are not a public space. The constant systematic invasion of our cellphones has become an intolerable plague. This harassment will end.”
Another unopposed bill hopes to bring government offices into the 21st century by requiring any business between the state and a supplier to be done with digital receipts, invoices, etc. that can be sent through email.
The legislation proposed by MK Mickey Levy (Yesh Atid) is meant to save time and money, and help the environment by using less paper and fuel, and he called it another step toward having a “paperless government.”