Israel's Governing Coalition Expected to Back Bill Ordering Death Penalty for Terrorists

Bill sponsored by Yisrael Beiteinu would allow military courts to sentence a terrorist to death even if the decision is not unanimous

FILE PHOTO: An Israeli prison guard keeps watch from a tower at Ayalon prison in Ramle near Tel Aviv February 13, 2013
REUTERS

The governing coalition is expected to support a bill on the death penalty for terrorists, sponsored by Yisrael Beiteinu, that would allow military courts to sentence a terrorist to death even if the decision is not unanimous.

The heads of the coalition parties promised Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman Sunday to support the bill, as set out in the coalition agreements.

Making it easier to sentence terrorists to death has been on Yisrael Beiteinus agenda for years. Military law already allows the death penalty for someone convicted of a terrorist murder if the decision by the judges is unanimous. This bill would allow the death sentence to be imposed by a majority of the judges. It would also prohibit the commutation of a death sentence.

The bill does not require military prosecutors to demand the death penalty. The decision will be left to the prosecutors in any given case.

The bill includes an article that was not in the coalition agreement, allowing regular Israeli criminal courts, and not only military courts, to sentence convicted terrorists to death.

Lieberman, Tourism Minister Yariv Levin and Yisrael Beiteinu whip Robert Ilatov are expected to formulate the final wording of the bill.

The bill is expected to be brought for approval to the Ministerial Committee for Legislation and then to the Knesset within a week or two.

In November, Haaretz reported that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed support for the death penalty during a condolence call he paid to the Solomon family, who lost three members in a terror attack in July.