MKs slam Peres for commuting terrorist sentences

After Peres shortens sentences of convicted terrorists, Schneller proposes law limiting the president's ability to do so.

Palestinian prisoners in Israel's Ketziot prison 311 (R) (photo credit: Ronen Zvulun/Reuters)
Palestinian prisoners in Israel's Ketziot prison 311 (R)
(photo credit: Ronen Zvulun/Reuters)
MKs slammed President Shimon Peres on Tuesday for commuting life sentences of high-security prisoners who killed IDF soldiers in the 1980s.
Kadima MK Otniel Schneller proposed that a new law be passed that would limit the president’s ability to commute sentences.
“A president should not be able to shorten the sentences of citizens of Israel that are traitors to their state and murder IDF soldiers for nationalist reasons,” Schneller said.
One of the prisoners to be released is Karim Younis, who received a death sentence that was mitigated to life in prison after he murdered IDF soldier Avraham Bromberg in 1981. His sentence was commuted to 40 years in prison.
Bromberg’s family came out in support of Schneller’s suggestion, saying that “a red line was crossed, and we are witnesses to how the state abandons our soldiers and citizens and breaches promises made in the past – that murderers with blood on their hands may not be released.”
“The State of Israel must use the death penalty against nationalist murderers,” the family added.
MK Danny Danon (Likud) agreed that the prisoners deserved the death penalty, but as long as Israel does not do so, high-security prisoners should spend life in prison and “never see the light of day.”
“This decision is a disgrace to the State of Israel,” Danon said. “The message we are sending to terrorists and their supporters is that they can murder Israelis and get out of jail.”
According to MK Moshe Matalon (Yisrael Beytenu), Peres’s actions are another example of the government’s powerlessness in dealing with terrorists and their sentences.
“It is unfortunate that gestures are being made to help murderers of children,” Matalon said, quoting national poet Haim Nahman Bialik: “Vengeance for the blood of a small boy/Satan himself has not devised.”
Peres commuted the life sentences of the seven prisoners to periods ranging from 30 to 45 years.
In addition to Younis, Peres reduced the life sentence of Ibrahim Abdel Razek Biadseh to 45 years. Biadsa was charged in 1986 for kidnapping an IDF soldier with Ibrahim bin Naif Abu Much, whose sentence was commuted to 40 years.
The president consulted Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman and the Prisons Service’s special release committee, which deliberated over each case based on accepted legal practice.

Greer Fay Cashman contributed to this report.