Israel’s parliament is plannig to renew a debate next week on a bill that would make it easier to sentence Palestinians to death, Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said today. He also vowed to have it passed. A law to sentence “terrorists” to death was one of Lieberman’s election promises in 2015 and the recent plan to open the debate again is widely seen as ramping up campaign rhetoric before the parliamentary elections expected to be called in the coming month.
The proposed bill is supported by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who gave the go-ahead to advance a parliamentary process calling for the death penalty for convicted Palestinians who killed Israeli civilians and soldiers. The proposal have been stalled since January 2018.
The bill, which in January passed a preliminary vote before being shelved, would ease the requirement that military courts in the occupied West Bank must meet to sentence Palestinians convicted of “terrorist” crimes to death. Currently, a panel of three military jugdes must unanimously approve any death penalty in military courts. The proposed law change would allow a simple majority of two to one judges to impose the death penalty.
Israel abolished the use of capital punishment for murder in civil courts in 1954, though it can still in theory be applied for war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide, treason and crimes against the Jewish people. Although the death penalty formally exists in Israeli law, it has only ever been used once, in 1962, when Adolf Eichmann, one of the architects of the Holocaust, was hanged following a trial.