The Ministerial Committee for Legislation on Sunday morning approved a groundbreaking bill to enforce life sentences with no possibility of parole for murderers.
By a majority vote of 7-3, a new bill was approved to prevent the release of terrorists from prison.
The bill was largely inspired by the freeing of violent prisoners as a gesture to the Palestinian Authority during the failed U.S.-brokered peace process.
Bereaved relatives of victims had demonstrated against the freeing of terrorists – a total of 78 were let go in three stages. The fourth and final release of another 26, scheduled during the nine-month negotiating period, was cancelled when the talks collapsed.
Also, in October 2011, 1,027 terrorists were released in exchange for captured IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, and many resumed violence against civilians.
While the bill was still being debated, Economics Minister and Jewish Home Chair Naftali Bennett had stressed that the purpose was “to separate the release of terrorists from diplomatic issues. There is no connection between them.”
Bill ‘Makes no Distinction between Jews and Muslims’
“The proposed bill makes no distinction between Jews and Muslims,” Member of Knesset (Israeli parliament) Ayelet Shaked of the Jewish Home party, who proposed the bill back in December, told Israel Radio. “Just as Arab murderers wouldn’t receive a pardon, neither would [assassin of former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin] Yigal Amir.”
Yossi Tzur, who lost his son in a 2003 suicide bombing on a Haifa bus, expressed support for the new legislation, Ynet news site reports.
Bereaved families had been opposed to the release of terrorists “since before the Gilad Shalit exchange. We have reached the point where there are no negotiations and no planned wave of prisoner release, [so] now is the time to settle the matter,” he said, according to Ynet.
A ‘Significant Deterrent against Terrorism’
“Today terrorists murder [while] knowing they will be released from prison,” Tzur continued. “During the Shalit deal three terrorists were released who had been sentenced to 17 life sentences, and [they] were responsible for the murder of 17 people – including my son. We have a film of the terrorists boasting they will not serve their full sentence….
“This bill was intended to remove their motivation because they know they will be released in future deals.”
Until now, according to the Basic Law of the President of the State, passed in 1964, the Israeli president had the authority to pardon criminals. Unless an appeal to the new legislation succeeds, no future release of terrorists in exchange for captives or as a so-called gesture of goodwill in peace negotiations could take place .
Only a judge would have the power to decide on the release of a convicted criminal, Shaked explained.
“Murderers and terrorists must know that they will not be released; this is a significant deterrent against terrorism,” declared Housing Minister Uri Ariel, noting that most countries would never consider negotiating with murderers and kidnappers.
“If the IDF needs to do all it can to free a [captive] soldier, then let them do all they can,” Yaakov Dadon, father of recently murdered 20-year-old Shelly Dadon, told Israel Army Radio. “The IDF is able to do many things. It could overturn Gaza, but [should] not release murderers.”
Bereaved Parent Says He Will Never Recover
More than 1,000 protesters on Saturday night – in response to Dadon’s murder last week in northern Israel, which occurred on her way to a job interview – demanded an end to any further release of terrorists. Police and Israeli security agency Shin Bet are still investigating the crime, which they believe was a terror attack. Further details are unavailable due to a gag order.
Dadon told Army Radio about his encounter with a bereaved mother who initially supported the Shalit deal; she now regrets it, he said, because the freed terrorists are “going out and killing soldiers and civilians.”
Dadon, who just completed the seven-day mourning period for his daughter, said he will never recover from the tragedy.
“We will continue to do the right thing: Killer terrorists will never see the light of day,” Bennett stated. “Today, the State of Israel is sending a new message on the war on terror and her moral obligation to the bereaved families.”
“Killers should die in prison and not celebrate at home,” he added, in apparent reference to the hero’s welcome given to heinous murderers of innocent men, women and children – whether in Hamas-ruled territory or by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Written by Atara Beck, Staff Writer/Editor, United with Israel