Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein let the cabinet choose to define the perpetrators of so-called price tag attacks on Arab and Palestinian targets as part of “forbidden organizations” rather than terror groups in June 2013.
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Last summer, as a result of political pressure from the right, the cabinet voted to settle for the less severe definition, which is also applied to charities linked to Hamas or Islamic Jihad.
The difference between the two terms is significant. While conviction of membership in a terror organization carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, and the property of any organization defined as such can be confiscated by the police and the Shin Bet security service, the only punishment faced by a forbidden organization is the possible confiscation of its property by the state.
Meretz chairwoman MK Zahava Gal-On sent a letter to Weinstein, asking him to instruct the cabinet to void its decision and to define the perpetrators of price tag attacks as part of terror organizations.
“Against the recommendation of the attorney general, the cabinet waves a white flag for political reasons, and instead of calling a spade a spade and declaring ‘price tags’ as a terror organization, allows the thugs from the hilltop youth to evade criminal prosecution through the use of administrative orders,” Gal-On said Saturday.
In her letter to Weinstein, Gal-On wrote, “There is no doubt that in light of the escalation in price tag activities,” they must be defined as acts of terror, and forceful action must be taken against their perpetrators.
In a written response to Gal-On, Deputy Attorney General Raz Nezri confirmed that Weinstein allowed the cabinet to choose between the two possible definitions. But he also noted that, from the perspective of the police and the Shin Bet, there is no difference between the two terms, as in either case the means of enforcement available to the agencies are identical.