Israel far-right pushes for law to execute Palestinian 'attackers'

Israel far-right pushes for law to execute Palestinian 'attackers'
Israeli hardliners have renewed their bid to put into law the death penalty for Palestinian attackers.
2 min read
06 November, 2018
Lieberman is pushing for the new law [Getty]

Israel's right-wing MPs are making a new push for a law that would allow Palestinian attackers to be put to death, Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Tuesday.

The Knesset will look into passing a law that would mean Palestinians convicted of terror charges could be put to death.

"After over three years of a stubborn struggle, the death penalty for terrorists law will finally be brought to the law committee next Wednesday (14 November), and then for its first reading in the Knesset plenum," Lieberman said on Twitter.

"We won't relent or stop until completing the mission."

The bill has already passed a preliminary vote and would ease the requirements on military courts in the occupied West Bank to sentence Palestinians convicted of "terrorist" crimes to death. 

As the law stands now, a panel of three military judges must unanimously approve any death penalty in military courts.

The new bill being pushed by Lieberman's Yisrael Beitenu Party would change the requirement to a majority instead of unanimity.

Israel has not legally executed any convict since 1962, when Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann was hanged.

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.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has expressed support for the death penalty in certain cases.

A senior source in Netanyahu's party said Tuesday that he would object to the bill since the Israeli security establishment opposed it.

"I won't support imposing the death penalty before there's a serious debate and decision in the government and security cabinet," Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz wrote on Twitter.

"According to the IDF (Israel Defence Forces), Shin Bet (internal security service) and all the security establishment not only would (the death penalty) not help the fight against terror, it would cause great damage," he said.

The loosening of the law governing the death penalty was an election promise by Lieberman in 2015, and government support for it was a condition for Yisrael Beitenu joining Netanyahu's coalition. 

Israeli elections are expected to be called in the coming months and politicians have been ramping up campaign rhetoric.

The Palestinian government condemned the bill as "a public invitation to commit murder, and execution, and carry out massacres against our Palestinian people". 

"This is a clear breach of laws, international and humanitarian," a statement from the Palestinian government said.