Ben Gvir punches back at Germans after death penalty criticism

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir is rebuking Berlin after Germany’s foreign minister warned Israel against implementing a death penalty for terror convicts.

“The last ones who should be preaching to us are the Germans,” he is quoted saying by the Ynet news website. “They should think 1,000 times before talking about Israel’s right to defend itself.”

Annalena Baerbock, after talks with her Israeli counterpart Eli Cohen in Berlin, said earlier in the day that “we consider particularly worrying the plan to introduce” capital punishment.

“We are firmly opposed to the death penalty, and we are raising this issue all over the world,” she told a press conference alongside Cohen.

Baerbock noted Germans learn in school that Israel — although “threatened like no other country by terrorism” — has not carried out any executions since 1962, when Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann was hanged.

“That has always been an impressive argument for those of us who have defended Israel on the international stage against unfair criticism,” she said. “I am convinced that it would be a big mistake to break with this history.”

Ben Gvir says that given a recent uptick in terror incidents, a capital punishment law is needed now.

“This is moral, logical and the order of the hour,” he says.

The law, part of a coalition agreement reached between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Ben Gvir states that someone who kills an Israeli citizen “out of racism or hostility to their group… and aiming to harm the State of Israel and the renewal of the Jewish people in their land, shall be sentenced to death, and this penalty only.”

The coalition agreed on Sunday to back the measure, paving its way to go through the Knesset.

AFP contributed to this post.

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