Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman vowed on Sunday to block the early release of convicted terrorists, putting himself at odds with the army, which is reportedly seeking to establish a parole committee for Palestinians given life sentences by military courts in the West Bank.
Liberman’s comments came in response to a Yedioth Ahronoth report that said that in the coming days the IDF will publicize details of an order to set up the advisory committee, which would require a change in the law.
The move is intended to bring the military prison system into line with civilian prions, where inmates have access to parole hearings.
“As long as I am defense minister, no terrorist will get a shortened sentence, not even by one hour,” Liberman tweeted.
Palestinians who carry out crimes, including attacks on Israelis, in the West Bank are tried by the IDFs military courts in the territory. The court system is under army jurisdiction and operates independently of Israel’s civilian courts.
Although the IDF’s Central Command chief can grant paroles, he doesn’t exercise that power, and even if the new parole committee were to be established, he would retain the final word, the report said.
The IDF said in a statement to Yedioth, “Recently an order was signed according to which parole requests submitted to the head of the Central Command by prisoners sentenced to life in military court will be considered by an advisory committee headed by a military judge, before they are brought to the commander.”
The composition of the committee and its method of operation would be similar to the committees for those given life sentences in civilian courts, the statement said.
In the past, Palestinians sentenced to life by military courts were only given early release as part of prisoner exchange deals or other agreements made by Israel’s political leadership.
There are dozens of convicted terrorists currently serving out life sentences that were handed down by military courts in the West Bank.
The change in policy by the IDF came to light during a High Court of Justice review of a petition by a Palestinian terrorist who sought early release after 30 years in prison, the report said.
The Palestinian, who was convicted of the 1988 murder of 18-year-old Israeli Ziva Goldovsky, claimed he is being discriminated against because, unlike those sentenced by civilian courts in Israel, he has no parole committee to appeal to. Although he has undergone rehabilitation in prison, several previous requests he submitted to the IDF Central Command have been rejected, the report said.
In civilian prisons, participating in rehabilitation programs is a prerequisite to applying for early release.
The court decided to reject the petition rather than involve itself in military matters, but during the deliberations the army told the court that it was in the process of implementing the change in policy to establish a parole board, the report said.