PM, Liberman said to agree to revive bill on death penalty for terrorists
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PM, Liberman said to agree to revive bill on death penalty for terrorists

After quashing proposal last year, Netanyahu finalizing wording of draft as part of deal to have Yisrael Beytenu join coalition

Leader of the Yisrael Beytenu party Avigdor Liberman speaks at a press conference in the Knesset, on May 18, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Leader of the Yisrael Beytenu party Avigdor Liberman speaks at a press conference in the Knesset, on May 18, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman reportedly agreed Thursday on the revival of a draft bill allowing the death penalty for convicted terrorists, as part of a deal for having the six-seat right-wing party join the governing coalition, which will also see Liberman become defense minister.

Netanyahu and Liberman were said to be meeting to finalize the wording of the bill, according to Channel 10.

The original bill proposed that convicted terrorists be sentenced to death with a simple majority of judges, rather than the unanimous decision required under current law. According to Channel 2, the newer version of the bill would require the approval of two judges only.

Last year, the Knesset voted down the bill proposed by Yisrael Beytenu that would have enabled judges to sentence a terrorist to death, with Netanyahu ordering lawmakers from his Likud party to oppose the bill, saying it needed further examination from a legal perspective.

The bill was rejected in its first reading.

MK Sharon Gal addresses the Israeli parliament during a debate on his "death sentence for terrorists" bill, July 15, 2015. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90
MK Sharon Gal addresses the Israeli parliament during a debate on his “death sentence for terrorists” bill, July 15, 2015. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

The measure, proposed by then-Yisrael Beytenu MK Sharon Gal (now back in journalism), would have made it easier for military and district courts to sentence to death those convicted of murder with nationalist motives.

The bill had the support of a number of Likud lawmakers. At the time, however, then-attorney general Yehuda Weinstein indicated he would nix the legislation.

Even though capital punishment is technically legal in Israel, it has only been practiced once, in 1962, when high-ranking Nazi SS officer Adolf Eichmann was sentenced to death for his role in orchestrating the Holocaust.

The death penalty bill was a key election promise from Liberman ahead of the 2015 national elections, after which he chose not to enter the Likud-led coalition.

JTA contributed to this report

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