Bill expanding death penalty off the agenda now that Liberman’s out

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November 20, 2018 13:08
2 minute read.
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, October 22, 2018

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, October 22, 2018. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

 
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The coalition froze legislation making it easier for courts to sentence terrorists to death after Yisrael Beytenu, the party that proposed it, quit the coalition.

Yisrael Beytenu MKs expressed outrage Tuesday, when Knesset Law, Constitution and Justice Committee chairman Nissan Slomiansky (Bayit Yehudi) said votes on the bill – which would amend the current law so that a majority of judges on a military court can sentence a terrorist to death, rather than only a unanimous panel of judges – would be delayed indefinitely because of disagreements within the coalition.

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But the timing of the announcement, the first meeting about the bill after Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman’s resignation from the Knesset, suggested to him that the reasoning was related to those events.

“We were shocked to hear in the discussion of the death penalty for terrorists bill... that it won’t go to a vote because of instructions from above, from the heads of the coalition,” Liberman said. “Yisrael Beytenu sees this as clearly breaking a promise to the public and to bereaved families. This is another reason why Yisrael Beytenu decided to leave the government and the current coalition. Yisrael Beytenu wants a rightwing government in actions and not in talk.”

Slomiansky took issue with Liberman’s characterization of there being “instructions from above,” saying that there are ongoing talks within the coalition about the matter.

Stopping the death penalty bill will likely impact other legislation. A source in Yisrael Beytenu said the party will no longer support Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev’s “cultural loyalty bill,” which seeks to cut state funding to cultural works or institutions that, among other things, harm or disrespect the symbols of the State of Israel; refer to Independence Day as a day of mourning; or incite to violence or terrorism. In the immediate aftermath of Liberman’s resignation last week, Regev had said he told her his party would still vote in favor of her bill.

A Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) representative in the committee said the bill could incite terrorism.


Yisrael Beytenu faction chairman Robert Ilatov scoffed that security experts said the same thing about the US moving its embassy to Jerusalem.

“We just want to build a deterrence package,” Ilatov said. “All of these stories that it’ll encourage terror and kidnapping – things don’t happen that way. It was happening already, with or without the death penalty for terrorists.”

Members of “Choosing Life,” a forum of bereaved parents affiliated with the right-wing Im Tirzu organization, attended the meeting and advocated for the death penalty.

Devorah Gonen, whose son Danny was murdered while hiking in 2015, said: “You’re not doing your job. We have deterrence in theory. There is no real deterrence… We are allowed to live and we must continue living. They have the right to die… Stop creating new bereaved families. There are people here who think Danny deserved to die!”

Members of “Choosing Life,” a forum of bereaved parents affiliated with the right-wing Im Tirzu organization, attended the meeting and advocated for the death penalty.

Devorah Gonen, whose son Danny was murdered while hiking in 2015, said: “You’re not doing your job. We have deterrence in theory. There is no real deterrence. We are allowed to live and we must continue living. They have the right to die. Stop creating new bereaved families. There are people here who think Danny deserved to die!”

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