A bill to impose limits on pardons for terrorists passed the Knesset Law, Constitution and Justice Committee on Monday, The Jerusalem Post reported.
The legislation would prevent terrorists from being released in prisoner exchanges or diplomatic gestures until they have served 40 years in prison.
The bill, sponsored by MKs Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home), David Tsur (Movement) and others, still needs approval by the full Knesset, but that is expected to happen by early November.
Assuming passage, it would apply retroactively to murderers and terrorists who have perpetrated crimes, have trials pending, and even those who were already convicted. But it would not affect those already sentenced, who could still be released in diplomatic deals or as ransoms for captive Israelis.
Opponents of such a law have argued that it would tie the hands of the Israeli government in future negotiations. The bill in its present form is significantly weaker than its original version, which called for life sentences for terrorists and especially heinous cases of murder, without any option of a presidential pardon.
Shaked said that “the Knesset is on the way to putting an end to the anarchy in which despicable murderers and terrorists are released too early based on questionable deals, torturing their victims’ families.”
MK Michal Rosin (Meretz) spoke against it, saying the government should have a free hand in diplomatic negotiations.
“There are cases in which the courts will decide that [a murderer or terrorist] should not be released. Let the judges decide,” MK Orit Struck, a co-sponsor of the bill, responded.
“Thank goodness you aren’t trying to pass a death penalty bill,” Rosin said.
MK David Tsur (Movement) said that in especially cruel cases of murder, the death sentence would be a moral punishment, and he will consider proposing such a bill.