The release of terrorists from Israeli prison as part of peace agreements with the Palestinians has been a contentious issue in Israeli society for years. This week, in the wake of the release of 26 terrorists, a revolutionary bill was proposed on the floor of the Knesset that would redefine the legal system of Israel.
MK Ayelet Shaked of the Jewish Home party and MK David Tzur of the Hatnuah party have brought forth a bill that would no longer allow pardons for convicted murderers. The bill has received support from many parties and has already been signed by members of Jewish Home, Hatnuah, Likud, Israel Beyteinu, and the Kadima parties.
Israel does not have a constitution but rather a system known as the Basic Laws of Israel. These basic laws form the basis of the legal system in Israel. One such law, The Basic Law of the President of the State, allows the President of Israel to pardon criminals. Should the new bill presented by Shaked and Tzur be passed in the Knesset, a new amendment would prevent any convicted terrorist from being pardoned no matter the condition. The amendment would allow, at the time of sentencing, the possibility for a judge to rule that future amnesty is no longer an option.
When speaking of the reasoning behind the proposed bill, Shaked explained to Arutz7, “Releasing terrorists has never been a ‘red line’ of any government. Therefore it is important for us legislators to stop the contemptible and despicable pardoning of terrorists and murderers. Right now, in the shadow of the terrorist releases, it is more important than ever to determine the ‘red lines’ of our governing system.”
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived to Israel this week to broker peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made it clear in a statement to Kerry that he is no longer sure of the well intentions of the Palestinians: “I know that you’re committed to peace, I know that I’m committed to peace, but unfortunately, given the actions and words of Palestinian leaders, there’s growing doubt in Israel that the Palestinians are committed to peace.”
Mentioning the release of the 26 terrorists, Netanyahu added “A few days ago in Ramallah, President Abbas embraced terrorists as heroes. To glorify the murders of innocent women and men as heroes is an outrage. How can President Abbas say – how can he say that he stands against terrorism when he embraces the perpetrators of terrorism and glorifies them as heroes? He can’t stand against terrorists and stand with the terrorists.”
The 26 terrorists who were recently released had a hero’s welcome upon their return to their hometowns. They are the third batch of Palestinian prisoners released as a result of a peace agreement with the Palestinians that began last July. The crimes committed by the terrorists took place before the Oslo Accords.