Palestinian prisoners wait to be released from Ketziot prison, southern Israel, October 1, 2007.
(photo credit: RONEN ZVULUN / REUTERS)
A bill seeking to prevent terrorists from having their prison sentences shortened has been caught in the crosshairs of negotiations between the coalition and Yisrael Beytenu.
Likud MK Anat Berko and Yisrael Beytenu lawmaker Oded Forer proposed similar bills. Forer’s states that terrorists convicted of murder cannot request to have their sentence shortened by a third. Berko’s sought to take away any possibility of a terrorist’s sentence shortened. The two bills were merged on Monday in a joint committee of the Knesset House Committee and the Knesset Law, Constitution and Justice Committee, which authorized the legislation for a first reading.
Although one of the bill’s leading sponsors is a member of the Likud, it is unlikely to go to a vote soon, due to the ongoing negotiations to have Yisrael Beytenu vote in favor of bills it supported before leaving the coalition two weeks ago. The party’s departure left the coalition with a one-seat majority, making it difficult to pass laws without opposition support.
Coalition chairman David Amsalem (Likud) offered to vote for this bill, as well as a Yisrael Beytenu proposal to make it easier for military courts to sentence terrorists to death, in exchange for the party’s support for the “cultural loyalty bill,” allowing the government to revoke funding from works that incite to terrorism, for the “Gideon Sa’ar bill”
requiring the president to appoint a party leader as prime minister, and a bill allowing ministers to appoint their own legal advisers.
Yisrael Beytenu leader MK Avigdor Liberman has thus far refused, blaming the Sa’ar bill, which is one Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is particularly interested in passing and is unlikely to give up on.
Berko said: “If the coalition had promoted my bill alone, before this whole [coalition] mess, then we wouldn’t be dependent on Yisrael Beytenu.”
Despite the obstacles, Berko expressed cautious optimism that the coalition would last long enough for her bill to become law.
Forer accused the coalition of opposing his bill, but said he would keep fighting for it to pass a second and third (final) reading.
The MK said he planned to have the bill include terrorists in prison who were not convicted of murder.
“Our war on terror doesn’t end when a terrorist is arrested, and unfortunately, the families of the victims have to fight our war against terror in courts that call to release terrorists before their sentences are completed,” Forer said. “If terrorists knew they would not get a prize for good behavior, maybe they would avoid committing acts of terror.”
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