MKs, Families Demand Gov’t Push Forward With Terrorist Death Bill

Yisrael Beytenu MK Robert Ilatov. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

MKs and families of terror victims slammed the government for failing once again to move forward on proposals to ease criteria for the imposition of a death penalty for terrorists. “We are disappointed that the Cabinet has not yet made a decision to advance the death penalty bill,” said MK Robert Ilitov (Yisrael Beytenu), sponsor of the bill. “We expect that another discussion will take place at the earliest possible time, in order to allow the completion of legislation and institution of the death penalty,” he added.

The Cabinet decided in a meeting Wednesday to once again postpone discussion of the bill. The bill has already passed its first reading in the Knesset, but because it is a private member’s bill and not sponsored by the coalition, the Cabinet needs to discuss and approve it. That process has been held up several times by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

Under the bill, a military court will be able to sentence a terrorist to death if in the course of their terror act they caused loss of life, even if only a majority of judges on a military tribunal vote to do so. In cases involving murder, a three-judge court is usually instituted. Under the current law, all three judges must vote to execute a terrorist before such a sentence can be imposed. The only person to have been executed by Israel in its history so far was Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann, after he was abducted and brought to Israel to stand trial for his role in the Holocaust.

Commenting on the delay in implementing the law, the “Choose Life” forum, which represents families who have lost loved ones to terror attacks, said that it was “sad to see Cabinet members fearing to make the right decision to save lives of those who could fall victim to terrorists in the future. This measure constitutes a small change to an existing law that will go a long way to preventing terrorism. We expect the Cabinet to pay attention to the will of the people and end the situation in which terrorists benefit more than they pay for committing acts of terror.”