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Ministers Pass 'Life Without Parole' Bill

Bill to enforce life sentences for terrorists passes 7-3 in Committee for Legislation. But will it face an appeal?
By Tova Dvorin and Hezki Ezra
First Publish: 5/11/2014, 12:43 PM / Last Update: 5/11/2014, 12:55 PM

Celebrations during the last terrorist release (illustrative)
Celebrations during the last terrorist release (illustrative)
Flash90

A groundbreaking bill enforcing life sentences for terrorist prisoners passed the Knesset Committee for Legislation Sunday, by a landslide majority of 7-3. 

The seven ministers who voted for the bill included Pensioners Minister Uri Orbach and Housing Minister Uri Ariel (Jewish Home/Bayit Yehudi); Culture Minister Limor Livnat, Interior Minister Gid'on Sa'ar, and Communications Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud); and Agriculture Minister Yair Shamir and Absorption Minister Sofa Landover (Yisrael Beytenu). 

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni (HaTnua), Science and Technology Minister Ya'akov Perry and Health Minister Yael German (Yesh Atid) voted against.

The bill changes one of the Basic Laws of Israel, which forms the basis for the formation and role of Israel's institutions, and the relations between the state's different ministries and authorities.

The Basic Law of the President of the State, passed in 1964, allows the President to pardon criminals - at least until now.

The new amendment would change this rule, preventing any convicted terrorist from being pardoned for his crimes under certain conditions. The amendment seeks to allow the judges of the court during trials for nationalist murders, terrorist activity or any other heinous crime, to negate at the time of sentencing the possibility of providing future amnesty.

Jewish Home MK Ayelet Shaked first proposed the bill in December. 

Ariel noted that the bill could pave the way for a significant reduction in terrorism in Israel. 

"Murderers and terrorists must know that they will not be released - this is a significant deterrent against terrorism," he stated, during the Knesset hearing. "Most countries will not negotiate with murderers and kidnappers." 

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni already announced her opposition to the bill Friday, a move Economics Minister and Jewish Home Chairman Naftali Bennett sharply criticized. 

"Justice Minister Tzipi Livni announced that she will oppose the law because it will hurt the ability of future governments to maneuver," he stated. "Tzipi – That is the goal of this bill. To disconnect the release of terrorists from diplomatic issues, there is no connection between them."

Bennett later welcomed the news Sunday, noting that the law marks a new page in the history of Israel. 

"Today, the State of Israel is sending a new message on the war on terror and her moral obligation to the bereaved families," he stated. "Special thanks to MK Ayelet Shaked who sponsored the bill. Killers should die in prison and not celebrate at home."