The Death Penalty in Israel Part 1: A License to Kill Palestinians?
On November 4th, 2018, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu formally endorsed a controversial new bill calling for the death penalty for convicted Palestinian terrorists.1 The bill, proposed by the Yisrael Beytenu party, won initial backing in a January preliminary reading in the Knesset. The bill is strongly supported by Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman, an ultra-nationalist in the conservative coalition government, who advocates for tough action against Palestinian terrorists.2 The bill also has backing from the families of terror attack victims, who feel that life imprisonment is not a sufficient punishment, and want to see a more tough on crime approach to terrorism.3 The bill’s progress since January 2018 has been repeatedly delayed and it currently faces deliberations in the Knesset’s Constitution and Law Committee before being brought to a vote in the plenary.
1 Raphael Ahren, “As Knesset Advances Death Penalty bill Israel at UN Joins Calls to end Practice” Timesof Israel (16 November 2018), online:< https://www.timesofisrael.com/as-knesset-advances-death-penalty-bill-israel-at-un-joins-calls-to-end-practice/.>
2 Ori Lewis & Nidal al-Mughrabi, “Israeli Death Penalty Advocates win Preliminary vote in Parliament” Reuters (3 January 2018), online: <https://www.reuters.com/article/us-israel-palestiniansdeathpenalty/israeli-death-penalty-advocates-win-preliminary-vote-in-parliament-idUSKBN1ES1DT.>
3 Daniel Estrin, “Why Isreali Courts Refuse Death Denalty for Terrorists” PRI (22nd April 2015), online: <https://www.pri.org/stories/2015-04-22/why-israeli-courts-refuse-death-penalty-terrorists.>