Death penalty for terrorists bill back on the table in Israel

A bill aimed at making it easier for military courts to sentence convicted terrorists to death is back on the table in Israel, after failing to make it through the Knesset last year.

The bill, put forward by opposition party Yisrael Beiteinu, is set to go before the Ministerial Committee for Legislation on Sunday.

Although military courts are currently technically allowed to sentence convicted terrorists to death, military law at present mandates that the decision has unanimous support from a panel of judges and that the sentence can be commuted.

The death penalty has been imposed a few times by military courts, but has been commuted each time. The only time Israel has ever carried out the death penalty was in 1962, when Adolf Eichmann was executed for his role in the Holocaust.

According to Yisrael Beiteinu head Avigdor Lieberman, the idea behind the bill is to prevent Israel from being able to release Palestinians convicted of terrorism as part of prisoner swaps.

“The release of terrorists, including terrorists who have carried out the most horrible attacks after not serving their full sentences, which has happened several times through various transactions…sends the absolute opposite message to that required in the war against terrorism,” Lieberman said.

“In the reality that Israel is confronting, the death penalty for terrorists is a deterrent necessity,” Lieberman continued.

The bill is also sponsored by Knesset members from the Likud and Habayit Hayehudi.

The same piece of legislation was shot down by the Knesset in July last year following Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s stated opposition to the bill. The proposed bill was voted down 94 to six.