Israel’s Cabinet approved a bill Sunday that would allow Israeli courts to block the pardon of prisoners convicted of murder.
The bill’s authors called prisoner releases a “moral failure” and that the legislation was meant to prevent “pardoning terrorists that committed murder in the framework of a prisoner swap or political gestures.”
The draft bill states that judges will be able to forbid the president to pardon terrorists: “The court is allowed to rule that for special reasons that will be written down, the president will not pardon and will not lighten the punishment by reducing or converting it,” the bill reads.
Critics say that such legislation, if passed by the Knesset, will limit Israel’s room to maneuver in negotiations.
The bill would only apply to people convicted after the legislation becomes law, meaning prisoners currently serving would not be affected.
During the recent round of peace negotiations, Israel released 78 Palestinian prisoners who had been convicted in deadly attacks.
Israel also has exchanged prisoners for captive Israelis — and even the remains of fallen soldiers — held by Hamas and Hizbullah.
Ministers from Likud, Jewish Home and Yisrael Beiteinu voted in favor of the bill, while those from Yesh Atid and Movement opposed.
Not all opponents of prisoner releases are happy with the bill. Almagor Terror Victims Organization director Lt.-Col. (res.) Meir Indor pointed out that the “the bill as it currently reads does not include thousands of murderers that were already sentenced … and could be released in future negotiations and gestures.
“In order to solve the problem, hundreds of bereaved families with Almagor demand to have the bill apply to terrorists who are already in prison, including those who are on the list for the fourth round [of prisoner releases in the last round of negotiations],” he said.