Daily Israel Report

Bennett Optimistic About Sunday Bill to Stop Terrorist Releases

Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett vows to 'put an end to' the practice of releasing terrorist murderers, as two bills up for debate Sunday.
By Benny Moshe and Ari Soffer
First Publish: 5/10/2014, 11:09 PM

Naftali Bennett
Naftali Bennett
Flash 90

Sunday could prove to be a landmark day for terror victims' rights if Economics Minister and Jewish Home party head Naftali Bennett has his way.

Two bills will be up for debate in the Knesset tomorrow in a bipartisan effort to put an end to the practice of releasing convicted terrorists from jail.

Writing on his Facebook wall Saturday night, Bennett said that he was optimistic about the chances of the bills passing their initial legislative hurdles - despite opposition from Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who insists the option of releasing mass-murderers should be kept open.

"For 30 years already the Government of Israel has been releasing terrorist murderers - sometimes in exchange for something, and sometimes not," Bennett wrote on his Facebook wall. "The time has come to put an end to this."

"Tomorrow we will be bringing to the government a bill which would allow for life imprisonment with no parole. We will continue to do the right thing: terrorist murderers will not see the light of day."

The first bill up for debate tomorrow, which Bennett was referring to, was sponsored by Jewish Home party chairwoman Ayelet Shaked. It would grant Israeli judges the option of handing down life sentences without parole - an option is not currently available to them, meaning that even terrorist mass-murderers who received multiple life sentences were able to be released either as part of "prisoner swaps" or, as in the last three such terrorist releases, as "goodwill gestures" to the Palestinian Authority.

On Friday, Bennett responded to left-wing Justice Minister and Hatnua party chief Tzipi Livni, who pledged to fight the bill "because it will hurt the ability of future governments to maneuver." 

"Tzipi - that is the goal of this bill," he shot back. "To disconnect the release of terrorists from diplomatic issues. There is no connection between them."

"The murderers of tomorrow are looking at us and will understand very well what our message is to them if this proposal will pass, and certainly what our message is if this proposal does not pass," he declared. 

Bennett vowed to ensure that the bill passes, noting that Jewish Home has opposed terrorist releases repeatedly over the past several months. 

"We will fight for this bill until it becomes the law," he vowed. "We will not relent, we will not give up, until we stop this immoral thing called releasing murderers, for good." 

"Double absurdity"

The second bill is sponsored by opposition MK Yaakov Litzman of the hareidi United Torah Judaism party, which would place restrictions on releasing terrorists whose sentences did include the possibility for parole. 

Under that bill, such prisoners could only be released if they have paid the full amount of compensation to their victims ordered by the courts. If it passes, it would likely prevent the worst offenders from being released given the millions of shekels they have been ordered to pay to those wounded or who lost loved ones in attacks they were responsible for.

Litzman attacks the "double absurdity" of releasing terrorists, which deals a double blow to terror victims and their families.

Apart from the emotional distress and trauma such moves inflict on the families of those killed or wounded in attacks those terrorists were responsible, victims and their families also end up being hit financially, he explained, as the freed terrorists no longer have to pay compensation.

"And so the families are wounded twice: mentally and financially."

The bill would also help make up for the fact that even if judges were given the power to grant life without parole, many arch-terrorists convicted prior to the passage of the bill could still potentially be released.

The Knesset discussion of the two bills comes amid mounting pressure calling for tougher measures against terrorist killers.

This evening thousands of demonstrators were expected at a march in the northern Israeli town of Afula to protest the murder of 20-year-old Shelly Dadon, who was killed on her way home in a suspected attack by Arab terrorists.