The Knesset Committee for the Advancement of Women passed in its first committee reading a law proposal that seeks to increase maternity leave by two weeks to a total of 16 weeks. The proposal, submitted by MKs Gideon Sa'ar (Likud) and Shelly Yacimovic (Labor) will now advance to its first reading in the Knesset plenum. The current proposal combines Sa'ar and Yacimovic's bill with similar proposals submitted by other MKs. Only one year ago, Sa'ar and Yacimovic teamed up with MKs Nadia Hilu (Labor) and Dov Hanin (Hadash) to extend maternity leave for the first time in Israeli history, from 12 to 14 weeks. "Extending paid maternity leave by two additional weeks will help reduce the number of women who are forced to give up on their work after taking maternity leave, will help the women re-integrate into the workforce and will assist the balancing of parenthood with employment. This is an important step for the welfare of citizens, and especially for young families," said Sa'ar and Yacimovic after the vote. The amendment to the current law is expected to cost the National Insurance Institute (NII) a total of NIS 240 million per year.