Bill to Limit Terrorist Pardons Moves Forward

YERUSHALAYIM (Reuters) -

The Knesset has given initial approval to a law that would prevent the release of any Palestinian prisoners jailed for murder in connection with an attack in which children were killed.

The measure was passed on Wednesday by 36 votes to 20, but must still be approved in four more parliamentary votes before becoming law.

It would entitle judges to determine in sentencing that a Palestinian defendant jailed for life for murder committed during an attack should not be eligible for pardon or any other easing of his sentence.

Current Israeli policy allows for prisoners to win early release by receiving a pardon at the state president’s discretion. The new measure would limit the president’s powers to grant such pardons.

Ofir Akunis, a deputy minister in Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s cabinet, endorsed the measure in a speech, drawing attention to “massive objection” in the United States to its swap this month of five Taliban detainees to free Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl.

“Freeing terrorists doesn’t bring peace but distances it and only brings more terrorism,” Akunis said.