Justice Minister: Jewish Extremists Who Killed Palestinian Infant Should Face Death Penalty

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Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked. Credit: AFP

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said over the weekend that the suspected Jewish extremists who torched a Palestinian home in Duma recently, murdering an 18-month-old infant and his father, should face the death penalty for their crime.

Speaking on Israel’s Channel 2, Shaked said the West Bank arson attack was “an act of terror that undermines the security of the country more than Arab terror,” adding, “Whoever commits a particularly cruel murder deserves the death penalty. This [Duma] is certainly an example, but that’s for the judges to decide.” Israeli lawmakers recently rejected a bill calling for the death penalty for terrorists who commit murder.

Shaked also said she didn’t believe in the use of administrative detention for any Israeli citizen, Jewish or Arab, saying it was “taking it too far. It’s something that needs to be used in small measure.”

The Shin Bet security force recently received permission from Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon to use detention without trial in a bid to tackle Jewish extremism; 12 people have been arrested so far, with three ordered to spend the next six months in jail. “The security forces requested permission to use it because they felt the means at their disposal were insufficient,” Shaked explained. “We’ve given them enough of what they want. Now they have to show results.”

The justice minister also refused to scrap her proposal that aims to split the role of the attorney general into two – a head of the state prosecution and a government legal adviser – despite Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s opposition to her plan.

“I have to decide first what I think is right,” said Shaked. “I’ll examine the issue, draw conclusions, present them to the prime minister, and then we’ll decide where to go from there.” Responding to the claim that there was a lack of coordination between her and the premier, she said, “I know the prime minister’s opinion. [Former] Justice Minister Neeman tried for a very long time to divide the role, and even then prime minister Netanyahu opposed it. I want to do my work first, and then take it to the prime minister.”

Channel 2 News reported on Thursday that Netanyahu opposed Shaked’s plan. The Prime Minister’s Office explained that “the idea of splitting the role of the government’s legal adviser could undermine his ability to exercise his role to its fullest.” It added that “the legal adviser has a critical role in the system of checks and balances, which is the very foundation of Israeli democracy. The danger is that the separation of roles will limit the system-wide view he has today, which is needed to enable the fullest execution of his role.”

Netanyahu’s public opposition to Shaked’s initiative reflected the poor relations between them. Netanyahu objected to Shaked’s appointment as justice minister, but was forced to accede to the demands of her party, Habayit Hayehudi, moments before the deadline for forming a government. He was also prepared to let Yehuda Weinstein continue as attorney general for another year, but Shaked was quick to announce the convening of a committee to look for his replacement. Netanyahu wanted Neeman as the government’s representative on the panel, but Shaked objected, concerned that Neeman’s loyalty would be to the prime minister, not her. In the end, Moshe Nissim was the compromise candidate. Shaked admitted recently that she and Netanyahu had not met since the formation of the government in May.

Shaked also expressed support for the indictment and incarceration of asylum seekers, whose number has risen in recent weeks. “Until now, an amendment to the [anti-infiltration] law was used to stop them, for the purpose of sending them to Saharonim and Holot [the Negev prison and detention center, respectively]. Now is the time to seriously examine a change of approach and move in the direction of criminal indictments,” she added.

Meanwhile, the Judicial Appointments Committee will meet today to select 20 new judges. For the first time, two of its nine members are Arab. The committee features Shaked, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, MKs Nurit Koren (Likud) and Robert Ilatov (Yisrael Beiteinu), Supreme Court President Miriam Naor, Supreme Court justices Elyakim Rubinstein and Salim Joubran, and attorneys Elana Saker and Khaled Zoa’bi. The search committee for a new attorney general was also scheduled to convene today, but that meeting was postponed.

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