Israel’s Shin Bet internal security agency warned members of the Israeli government that the proposed law encouraging the use of the death penalty against terrorists convicted of murder could spark a wave of kidnappings by terrorists targeting Jewish abroad.
On Wednesday, the Knesset voted 52 to 49 to give preliminary approval to a bill which would enable both military and state courts to sentence terrorists to death with just a simple majority, instead of a unanimous decision, as the law now requires. The death penalty could be applied only to terrorists convicted of murders committed for nationalistic reasons. Israel has not used the death penalty since the execution of Adolf Eichmann in 1962.
According to a report in the Hebrew daily Haaretz Wednesday, Israel’s intelligence and counter terror agency informed senior Israeli leaders that the bill proposed by Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu party could encourage terrorist elements abroad to kidnap Jews around the world in an effort to force Israel to free condemned terrorists before their execution.
The Shin Bet is expected to discuss the matter with the full cabinet. Shin Bet chief Nadav Argaman reportedly shared his agency’s concerns with the security cabinet prior to Wednesday’s vote. Nevertheless, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu expressed his full support for the bill, and voted in favor of it at its preliminary reading.
The bill will need to pass its first, second, and third readings before it becomes law.
A similar proposal pushed in 2011 following the March 11th, 2011 massacre of the Fogel family in Itamar which left five Israelis dead, was nixed following similar warnings from Shin Bet.