Israelis demonstrate against a Palestinian prisoner release.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
A bill delineating the legal definition of terrorism and making it easier to convict terrorists, along with another proposal to keep many of them in prison longer, both received the Ministerial Committee for Legislation’s approval on Monday.
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, who initiated both bills, said that she is “stepping up the war on terrorism.”
The first bill, which she nicknamed the “Terrorism Bill,” will “anchor under it all of the guidelines dealing with terrorism...give the tools to investigate terrorism, enforce laws against it and punish terrorists.
These tools will allow security forces to do justice with more terrorists,” Shaked stated.
The lengthy proposal defines terrorism as well as the legal tools to stop terrorists.
One section of the bill extends the length of time during which terrorists can be barred from meeting their lawyers. While most criminals can be prevented from meeting an attorney for up to 30 days, under the proposed legislation, the attorney-general can authorize an extension for someone who committed a crime related to terrorism.
The provision is meant to prevent situations whereby one lawyer representing multiple terrorists helps his clients coordinate their testimonies.
The legislation also allows courts to convict terrorists based on things they said in interrogations, as opposed to only their testimony in court.
Shaked’s office said this will allow terrorists to be convicted even if they do not show up for their court date.
The definition of terrorism, according to the new bill, has three constituent elements: motivation, goal and harm.
The motivation must be ideological, diplomatic, nationalist or religious. The goal must be to create public panic or to convince the government to make a certain decision or prevent it from doing so. Harm must be to a person – either physically or to his liberty – or to the public’s safety or health, or to property or infrastructure in a way that seriously hurts a person or the public, or to religious sites or figures.
Another Shaked proposal approved by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation plans to make it more difficult for anyone serving a life sentence in prison to receive parole or furloughs and other benefits.
According to the bill, a committee to consider early release for such prisoners cannot be convened until he or she has served at least nine years since conviction, as opposed to seven years under the current law. The same committee that discusses early release would also approve furloughs and other rehabilitative benefits.
In addition, the proposals state that anyone serving more than one life sentence cannot be released after less than 40 years in prison.
The current law allows early release after 30 years.
“Prisoners will only get furloughs, rehabilitation and special conditions after a long time in which they served their sentence,” Shaked said.
“The families of those murdered live with the outcome of these crimes for their whole lives. Murderers should not get easier conditions.”