Israel approves preliminary death penalty bill for 'terrorists' with Netanyahu's blessing

Israeli lawmakers attend a vote on a bill at the Knesset the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem

Now all three judges on a mlitary tribunal have to agree on any death sentence. Political pundits and longtime advocates of the death penalty say that political considerations allowed the bill to pass a preliminary reading, but chances that the proposal will become law are unlikely.

The death penalty "constitutes inhuman and degrading treatment, does not have any proven deterrent effect and allows judicial errors to become irreversible and fatal", a statement released by the European Union read on Wednesday. "It constitutes inhuman & degrading treatment, does not have any proven deterrent effect & allows judicial errors to become irreversible & fatal".

Israel has only ever previously carried out the death penalty twice - once in 1948 for Meir Tobianski who was wrongly accused of treason and in 1962 for Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann.

Currently, a military court can impose the death penalty on a convicted terrorist only if the decision of the panel of judges is unanimous. If the amendment is adopted, a majority verdict would suffice.

Because of Israel's dual legal system, which generally tries Israelis in civilian courts and Palestinians in military courts (where the death penalty would be introduced), Israelis would generally not face execution.


Among those who voted for the motion was Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who commented that "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".

The bill, put forward at the initiative of Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman, would change the requirement to a majority instead of unanimity.

In a statement, the Palestinian Foreign Affairs and Expatriates ministry assured that it considers the project to be part of the Israeli escalation in its arbitrary measures against the Palestinians, as well as serious violations of the law, global conventions and protocols and human rights.

Another point of concern is that the same death penalty law could be used against Jewish terrorists. "Furthermore, any miscarriage of justice, which is a possibility in any judiciary no matter how advanced it is, could lead to the intentional killing of an innocent person by state authorities".

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