A controversial bill that would execute Palestinian terrorists found guilty of murdering Israeli civilians or soldiers was given the support of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday.
The prime minister gave coalition party heads the go-ahead in a legislative agenda meeting, where he said opposition from Shin Bet security services and Israel Defense Forces’ officials should not prevent lawmakers from advancing the bill, which has been stalled since January.
Though Israel does allow for the death penalty, it was only used once — in 1962 for the execution of Nazi official Adolf Eichmann for his part in engineering the Holocaust.
The death penalty is technically available for certain cases of high treason, and in martial-law situations in Judea and Samaria, but the penalty requires the unanimous agreement of three judges and has never been handed down.
The new bill would allow a simple majority of judges on a panel to impose the death penalty.
The bill was authored by Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu Party, but has also been backed by Education Minister Naftali Bennett, chairman of the Jewish Home party.
According to reports, however, Lieberman himself has held up the legislation, which was only reintroduced to the prime minister’s docket after a push by Bennett, who said Lieberman had “ruined Israel’s deterrence” since taking office.
“They know their homes won’t be demolished, that their families will receive NIS 12,000 per month [a salary given by the Palestinian Authority], and they will be heralded as martyrs,” Bennett tweeted Sunday. “What Lieberman isn’t willing to do via the Defense Ministry, we will do today via legislation.”
However, Lieberman responded that it was actually the Jewish Home Party that had been thwarting the passage of the death-penalty bill, and that his party would “support any bill that aids the fight against terror.”
The bill will now be brought to the Knesset’s Constitution and Law Committee prior to a vote in the plenary.