Death penalty push populist, bad for security, opposition says

The death penalty has not been invoked in Israel since Nazi commander Adolf Eichmann was hanged in 1962.

December 18, 2017 14:56
2 minute read.
INMATES WALK through the Hermon Prison in northern Israel last week.

INMATES WALK through the Hermon Prison in northern Israel last week.. (photo credit: ELIYAHU KAMISHER)


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The coalition agreed to push forward a bill that would make it easier to use the death penalty against terrorists in order to cover up its failings, leading opposition MKs said on Monday.

According to Zionist Union MK Tzipi Livni, when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman “fail at security, they turn immediately to ultra-nationalism and populism.”

“Liberman, in order to hide his weaknesses in security, will always find an opportunity... to talk about death penalty for terrorists,” Livni added. “Liberman’s bill is political and not good for security, because if there was a security need for it, security forces would have demanded it, but they don’t want it.”

Yisrael Beytenu’s death penalty bill is expected to go to a preliminary vote on Wednesday. It was voted down by a margin of 94-6 in 2015, when the party was in the opposition. Coalition party leaders agreed on Sunday to support the initiative.

Israeli law currently allows military courts to use the death penalty if there is a consensus of all the judges presiding over the trial. This bill would allow a majority of judges to sentence a terrorist to death.

The death penalty has only been invoked in Israel on Nazi commander Adolf Eichmann, who was hanged in 1962.

“I strongly oppose this bill,” said Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid. “Why just terrorists? Why not pedophiles, child-murderers or rapists? The government is trying again to pass populist laws that Netanyahu opposed to begin with, instead of doing their jobs.”

Similarly, Meretz chairwoman Zehava Gal-On pointed out that Netanyahu had blocked the death penalty bill in the past.

“This will not deter terrorists,” Gal-On stated. “Many of them attack knowing that they will die. But the bill does expose how Netanyahu and Liberman don’t really have an answer for terror, just the same musty initiatives meant to show they’re acting, instead of bringing results.”

Following the coalition’s approval of the bill, Liberman said that the murder of Sgt. Ron Isaac Kukia, who was stabbed to death by a Palestinian last month, proves that the death penalty is necessary for terrorists.

“The death penalty will be a significant deterrent,” the defense minister argued. “We cannot allow terrorists to know that after they commit a murder, they can sit in prison, enjoy the good conditions and maybe be released in the future. Our fight against [terrorists] must be very determined.”

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