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January 3, 2018 2:07 pm

Knesset Gives Preliminary Approval to Death Penalty for Terrorists

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Israel’s Knesset. Photo: Itzik Edri via Wikimedia Commons.

Israel’s parliament gave preliminary approval on Wednesday for legislation that would make it easier for a court to impose a death sentence on assailants convicted of murder in attacks classified as terrorism.

Israeli military courts — which handle cases involving Palestinians in the West Bank — already have the power to issue the death sentence, although this has never been implemented. The only case of an execution in Israel was carried out against convicted Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in 1962.

The amendment to the penal code would still require three more readings if it is to become law. Currently, a death penalty can only be imposed if a panel of three military judges passes sentence unanimously. If the amendment is adopted, a majority verdict would suffice.

Wednesday’s motion was brought by Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who advocates tough action against Palestinian terrorists. Fifty-two of Knesset’s 120 members voted in favor, and 49 were opposed.

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu voted for the motion but said that such legislation required deeper discussion and that the matter would now be considered at ministerial level before further debate in the Knesset.

In remarks to lawmakers, he said: “I think that in extreme cases, when somebody slaughters and laughs (as he kills), he should not spend the rest of his time in jail and should be executed.”

Asked by an Israeli-Arab lawmaker whether he would also apply this reasoning to Jewish terrorists convicted of killing Palestinians, Netanyahu said: “In principle, yes.”

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