Ten months after passing their preliminary readings, and years after they were first filed, bills designed to put pressure on Hamas to release captured IDF soldier Gilad Schalit will begin to be prepared Monday for their first reading on the Knesset floor.
The bills, collectively known as the Schalit Bill, will be joined together in the process, and sponsors hope the final product will be ready for the first plenum reading during the Knesset’s Summer Session.
The Knesset’s Interior and Environment Committee will hold the first hearing on the bill, which proposes changing the prisonconditions of Hamas prisoners as long as the terror organization continues to hold the IDF soldier in captivity.
Despite the bill’s popularityamong MKs, its future is far from certain. “This bill will correct the absurd situation by which terror organizations kidnap Israeli citizens as bargaining chips, completely prevent visits, while members of these terror organizations who sit in Israeli prisons are allowed to receive visitors,” complained MK Danny Danon in the introduction to the bill that he sponsored.
Danon’s amendment would reduce visits to the minimum required by law, permitting only visits by an attorney and visits by the International Red Cross once every three months.
Last May, the bills, sponsored by Danon, Marina Solodkin (Kadima), Yariv Levin (Likud) and Yoel Hasson (Kadima), sailed through preliminary readings with support from both opposition and coalition members, leading to a 56-10 victory.
The bills originated in the previous administration, with the bill sponsored by Solodkin and cosponsored by then-MK Yuli Edelstein. With the formation of the Likud government, two separate bills – one filed by MK Danny Danon (Likud) and the second by MK Yariv Levin (Likud) and MK Yoel Hasson (Kadima) – were also filed, but repeatedly failed to win the support of the Ministerial Committee for Legislation.
In May 2010, a deal was reached by which the government would support the bills on the condition that they be advanced to further readings only “in concert and consultation” with the government and the Internal Security and Justice Ministries.
“This bill reflects democracy working to defend itself,” said Solodkin. “I had hoped that a bill that I started in the last government could at least be advanced in this current government, which is supposed to be a national-right-wing government.”
But Solodkin noted that, instead, the government had dragged its feet, both on supporting the bill and then on bringing it to committee for preparation.
Solodkin would not say that she was optimistic, but that she hoped that the bill could be passed in its first plenum reading during the summer, which would allow it to continue to be legislated even if the government were to fall.
By: Rebecca Anna Stoil