Mideast Daily News

Israeli Government To Debate Death Penalty Bill

By Charles Bybelezer | The Media Line

December 19, 2017

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A controversial bill that would allow a simple majority of judges to sentence convicted terrorists to death is expected to go to a preliminary vote on Wednesday. Currently, Israeli law permits military courts to use the death penalty only if there is a consensus of all the judges presiding over the trial. However, the punishment has only been handed down once in Israel’s history—Adolf Eichmann, who orchestrated the Holocaust on behalf of the Nazis during World War II, was hanged in 1962 following a public trial. Capital punishment is a contentious issue in Israel that generally divides along Left-Right ideological lines. In this respect, members of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s governing coalition are backing the bill, whereas the opposition has voiced widespread outrage over its potential passage. Proponents of the legislation argue that the death penalty will act to deter terrorists, while also reducing the future prospect of Israeli governments concluding lopsided prisoner exchange deals involving some of the worst security offenders. A similar bill advanced by Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman’s Israel Beytenu party was voted down in 2015—on Netanyahu’s orders—by a margin of 94-6; however, at the time, Liberman’s faction was not in the coalition.

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