Israel’s parliament on Wednesday gave a preliminary approval for a bill allowing the death penalty for Palestinian attackers.
Following a heated debate, the bill passed a preliminary reading with a narrow majority of 52-49 vote. The bill still needs to pass three more full rounds of votes before it could become a law.
The new legislation is sponsored by the far-right party of Israel Our Home, which is part of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition.
Before the vote, Netanyahu told the parliament he supports the bill, saying the death penalty is “justice in extreme situations.”
“There are extreme cases, where people commit terrible crimes and don’t deserve to live,” Netanyahu argued. “We’re changing the law for these situations,” he added.
Under the bill, military and civil courts could sentence to death a person who was convicted of committing an “act of terror.”
Israel’s military law already allows the death penalty for Palestinian attackers but only in military court and if the entire judges in the panel reach the decision unanimously.
Under the new legislation, both military and civil courts could sentence a Palestinian attacker to death, with a simple majority.
Israel’s security system has not endorsed the new legislation. According to Israel’s Ha’aretz newspaper, an assessment by the Shin Bet security service said that such a penalty might have a counterproductive effect.
It would spark a wave of kidnaps of Israelis around the world in order to use them as “bargaining chips” to release convicts from the death row, according to the assessment.
So far, Israel has never sentenced a terrorist to death. The only time the grave penalty was applied took place in the 1961 execution of Adolf Eichman, a senior German Nazi officer who had been convicted of being a major organizer of the Holocaust.