Bill Mandating Death Sentence for Terrorists Splits Likud Ministers

Governing party yet to decide whether to support bill in committee this Sunday.

Tomer Appelbaum

Likud ministers are divided over whether to support a Yisrael Beiteinu bill that would introduce the death penalty for terror-related murder.

Ilan Assayag

The bill, submitted by MK Sharon Gal (Yisrael Beiteinu), reflects one of the party’s flagship issues during the recent election campaign. It will be brought before the Ministerial Committee for Legislation on Sunday, which will decide whether the coalition supports the bill.

The death penalty already exists on Israel’s legislation books, for the offenses of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, crimes against the Jewish people and treason in wartime (although Adolf Eichmann remains the only person to have been sentenced to death in Israel).

Science, Technology and Space Minister Danny Danon, a member of the committee, told Haaretz that if the bill gets through the committee on Sunday, he intends to support it. In contrast, Tourism Minister Yariv Levin, the committee’s interim chairman, is expected to vote against the coalition supporting the bill.

Habayit Hayehudi chairman Naftali Bennett announced on Wednesday that members of his party would support a bill mandating the death penalty for terrorists convicted of murder.

“A murderous terrorist, like the murderers of the Fogels [five family members who were stabbed to death at their Itamar home in 2011], should know that his life ends when he ends life,” Bennett wrote on his Facebook page. “It’s moral and it’s right.” He also called on Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog and Yesh Atid head Yair Lapid to support the bill, to demonstrate “there is no difference between coalition and opposition on these issues.”

Additionally, the bill includes a clause that mandates the death penalty for a terrorist convicted of a murder committed in the West Bank (which operates under military orders). The clause would to prevent generals, under whose jurisdiction in the West Bank a murder is committed, from being able to commute the sentence.

“We’ve made a promise and are determined to keep it,” said Gal. “We need to change reality and rein in terror. A death penalty law will strengthen Israeli deterrence – it is moral and ethical to legislate it for the sake of preserving the lives of our citizens. It has broad support among the people – it’s clear to everyone this bill has to pass,” he added.

Gal launched a Facebook campaign when he submitted the bill. He called on the public to take pictures with signs supporting the bill and share them on social media.

“The bill will be debated in the Ministerial Committee for Legislation, and your support is critical,” he posted. “How can you help? Take a picture of yourself with the line, ‘I also support the death penalty for terrorists.’ Upload it here on and your own pages, in order to flood the Web and influence the ministers.”

Danon confirmed that he took a picture of himself with the sign on Wednesday, and said Gal went around the Knesset plenum taking pictures of MKs who agreed to being filmed.