Legislation making it easier for released terrorists to be re-arrested was authorized for its first reading in the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Monday.
The bill, proposed by Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman Ze’ev Elkin (Likud Beytenu) and signed by MKs in Labor, Bayit Yehudi, Hatnua, Shas, UTJ and Yesh Atid, is meant to combat plans by terrorists to kidnap Israeli soldiers or civilians.
If Elkin’s proposal becomes law, all terrorists who are freed as part of a diplomatic deal will not be pardoned, rather they will be let out of prison in an administrative release with the option of being rearrested if they return to terrorism or if the terrorist organizations with which they are associated attacks Israel.
The terrorist will then have to serve the rest of his or her original sentence and face a trial for his or her new crime.
"Terrorist organizations will have to think about whether or not they want large amounts of their members to be put back in jail," Elkin said at the meeting.
"I don't trust any prime minister not to release terrorists," Bayit Yehudi faction chairwoman Ayelet Shaked said. "This is a serious deterrent against terrorism. This bill will save lives because it will discourage terrorists from acting because so many members of their organization will be arrested."
MKs Moshe Feiglin (Likud) and Meir Sheetrit (Hatnua) pointed out that the bill gives legal standing to negotiations with terrorists.
"Our government used to never talk to terrorists. That was the correct policy," Sheetrit said.
Sheetrit also took issue with the bill making it no longer the president's job to pardon prisoners, saying it harms the institution of the presidency.
"It's an embarrassment for the president to have to pardon terrorists when he doesn't really have a choice in the matter," Shaked said.
Elkin said he is not trying to limit the president's power, but that having him pardon terrorists is a misuse of the presidency.
Then, the committee debated whether or not President-elect Reuven Rivlin would refuse to pardon terrorists, something no president has done before.
Though the MKs did not reach a conclusive answer, Elkin said he spoke to Rivlin's advisors, who assured him he has no problem with the bill taking that task away from him.
However, President's Residence legal advisors did oppose the bill for that reason.