Israel's Herzog broadens pardon policy for Israel's 75th anniversary

Pardons will be issued to applicants over the age of 75, IDF combat veterans who suffer disabilities, and those who have made unique contributions to Israel's security.

 PRESIDENT ISAAC Herzog speaks, in January, at the funeral of his mother Aura Herzog, buried alongside her husband Chaim Herzog, who served as president 1983-1993, at Mount Herzl cemetery in Jerusalem. Yaacov Herzog was the brother and uncle respectively of the two presidents. (photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)
PRESIDENT ISAAC Herzog speaks, in January, at the funeral of his mother Aura Herzog, buried alongside her husband Chaim Herzog, who served as president 1983-1993, at Mount Herzl cemetery in Jerusalem. Yaacov Herzog was the brother and uncle respectively of the two presidents.
(photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)

President Isaac Herzog announced on Sunday the broadening of his amnesty authority in honor of Israel’s upcoming 75th anniversary of Independence. He will issue pardons to applicants over the age of 75, IDF combat veterans who suffer from disabilities and those who have made unique contributions to the security of the state.

Additionally, special consideration will be given to young adults who have undergone rehabilitation.

Since taking office in July 2021, Herzog has been keenly interested in finding ways to clean the slate for young people who have expressed remorse for their actions and have demonstrated a positive change in attitude.

He does not want their lives to be stained by the follies of their youth, he said. In granting pardons, he is hoping to ensure that all professions remain open to them, and that they never face discrimination for having been in prison.

How can Israelis be pardoned by the president?

Herzog, in cooperation with Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar and the Department of Pardons in the Justice Ministry, announced at a joint conference on amnesties held at the President’s Residence that a special policy will apply to applications submitted by May 13, 2024, which corresponds with the Hebrew calendar date in the month of Iyar of the end of the 75th anniversary year.

This is not a blanket policy, however, and all requests will be reviewed at the president’s discretion.

 Herzog shares condolence call details with IDF soldiers on the Gaza border (credit: KOBI GIDEON/GPO) Herzog shares condolence call details with IDF soldiers on the Gaza border (credit: KOBI GIDEON/GPO)

Each request will be handled in relation to the circumstances under which the crime was committed, how the applicant has behaved in prison, and whether he or she has impressed the relevant authorities with a sincere desire to change, they said.

Herzog noted that amnesty on the occasion of a national event is a recognized tradition in many countries, and that in the past, presidents of Israel granted pardons on the 30th and 40th anniversaries of the state, the 15th anniversary of the liberation and reunification of Jerusalem and at other times.

Last year, within a week of taking office, Herzog also announced that an updated special pardons policy had been coordinated with Sa’ar, Defense Minister Benny Gantz and the IDF in the spirit of the Ten Days of Penitence ahead of Yom Kippur.

How did Herzog's predecessor handle pardons?

Herzog’s predecessor Reuven Rivlin – who, like Herzog, is a lawyer by profession – was also concerned about the future of young people convicted of crimes, and did his utmost to give them a fresh start in life.

During his seven years in office, Rivlin granted 1,830 pardons, reduced many sentences and canceled 1,365 criminal records, mostly of young members of the Ethiopian community. Rivlin also initiated various rehabilitation programs, including career training for women abandoning prostitution.