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Israel is Taking the First Steps Towards Capital Punishment for Terrorists

Israel’s parliament deliberated on Wednesday on a bill that would make it possible to give terrorists the death penalty. Member of Parliament Limor Son Har-Melech, from the right-wing extremist coalition partner Otsma Jehudit, had submitted the proposal.

The bill will be voted on for the first time on Wednesday, but three additional readings are needed before the law can enter into force. Previous proposals to give terrorists the death penalty failed.

According to the draft, “whoever intentionally or out of indifference causes the death of an Israeli citizen, if the act is committed out of racist motives or out of hostility against a particular population group” with the aim of “promoting the State of Israel or the rebirth of the Jewish people in there to harm the fatherland” shall be punishable by death. Military courts in the occupied West Bank should be able to pass such a death sentence by a simple majority.

Israeli Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara has already opposed the legislature’s plans. They are illegal, and she also points out that the death penalty is not an effective deterrent. In 1954, Israel abolished the death penalty for murder.

For some instances, such as Nazi criminals or for treason in wartime, the death penalty remained possible. The execution of the German Nazi Adolf Eichmann in 1962 was the last time the death penalty was carried out in Israel. Har-Melech’s husband was seriously injured in an attack by a Palestinian in 2003 – the politician was heavily pregnant then.

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