The Knesset approved on Wednesday in a preliminary reading a bill by MK Yaakov Litzman (United Torah Judaism), which states that terrorists will only be released from Israeli prisons after they pay compensation to their victims.
The Basic Law gives the President the authority to pardon criminals, but Litzman’s bill would amend the law so that in the case of a person who was charged with or convicted of a nationalistically-motivated offense against Israelis, the President would not be allowed to pardon the offender before he is satisfied that the offender has paid the full compensation to the victim.
The bill will be transferred to a Knesset committee to be prepared for its first reading.
Litzman, who spoke at the Knesset before the vote, said, "I'm not going into political matters, whether or not to release terrorist prisoners. This bill is meant to help families of victims who are left with nothing after undergoing the trauma. If we do release terrorists, each will have to pay compensation to the victim’s family.”
MK Zehava Galon, chairwoman of the leftist Meretz party, criticized the bill and accused the Knesset of purposely trying to tie the hands of the government.
“The recent initiatives regarding the prisoner releases are all of the same nature,” she charged. “You want to create a situation whereby the government will be unable to conduct any political maneuvering because it does not want to reach a diplomatic agreement.”
Galon continued, “This is immoral and wrong. You want to have a government whose hands are tied and cannot reach a political settlement.”
Earlier this week, the Ministerial Committee on Legislation passed a law that would enforce life sentences for terrorist prisoners. Minister Yaakov Perry of Yesh Atid was quick to file an appeal against it, essentially shelving it.
Perry’s move enraged the Jewish Home party, whose MK Ayelet Shaked tabled the law along with MK David Tzur of Hatnua. In response, Jewish Home ministers on Tuesday filed appeals against four laws proposed by Yesh Atid.