"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." - Oscar Wilde

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Israel: Liberman said to drop demand for death penalty for terrorists

A. Lieberman and Prime Minister Netanyahu
Bill would have allowed capital punishment for those convicted of ideologically motivated murder

Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman on Saturday reportedly dropped his demand for the revival of a draft bill allowing the sentencing of convicted terrorists to death, a request he had previously raised with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as part of a deal for having his five-seat right-wing party join the governing coalition.

Under the coalition agreement, expected to be finalized Sunday, Liberman will become defense minister.

The original bill proposed that convicted terrorists could be sentenced to death with a simple majority of judges, rather than the unanimous decision required under current law.

Last year, the Knesset overwhelmingly voted down a bill, proposed by Yisrael Beytenu, that would have enabled judges to sentence a terrorist to death, with Netanyahu ordering lawmakers from his Likud party to oppose the bill, saying it needed further examination from a legal perspective.

The measure was proposed by then-Yisrael Beytenu MK Sharon Gal. It failed in its first reading by a vote of 94 to 6.

Then-attorney general Yehudah Weinstein suggested it was likely not constitutional, and said he would oppose the bill, which would have faced a certain challenge in court had it passed into law.

Israel currently allows judges to hand down capital punishments only in relation to the Holocaust. The death penalty has only been handed down once, in the 1962 trial of high-ranking Nazi SS officer Adolf Eichmann.

The death penalty bill was a key election promise from Liberman ahead of the March 2015 elections, after which he chose not to enter the Likud-led coalition.

Source: Times of Israel, May 22, 2016

Israel plans death penalty for Palestinian militants

Israel is poised to introduce the death penalty for Palestinian militants after Binyamin Netanyahu invited an ultra-nationalist party to join his coalition government.

The rightwinger Avigdor Lieberman made capital punishment a key demand in negotiations this week for his party to shore up Mr Netanyahu's coalition, with Mr Lieberman handed the defence portfolio. Sources from Mr Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu party and the ruling Likud said that the prime minister had agreed.

It would be a major policy shift for Israel, which has only ever executed one person: the Nazi officer Adolf Eichmann, who was hanged in 1962 for genocide.

Source: The Times, May 19, 2016

Netanyahu agrees with Liberman on death penalty for terrorists in negotiations

Coalition negotiations between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Yisrael Beytenu chair Avigdor Liberman were almost completed after Netanyahu agreed to the condition of setting the death penalty for those who commit terror activities.

Members from both parties exchanged a final draft of the agreement on Thursday agreeing on the death penalty, however both have not agreed on the specific conditions.

In a meeting that lasted less than an hour Wednesday afternoon, Liberman accepted Netanyahu’s offer of the defense and immigration and absorption portfolios and support for key Yisrael Beytenu-sponsored legislation.

Netanyahu updated Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon immediately after meeting with Liberman. A source close to Netanyahu said Ya’alon is likely to be compensated by becoming foreign minister, but Ya’alon’s office said he had not yet been offered the post.

Talks with Yisrael Beytenu began after negotiations with the Zionist Union failed to progress.

Netanyahu met with Herzog until 1 a.m. late Tuesday night but failed to reach agreements on diplomatic issues.

In a Tel Aviv press conference, Herzog blamed the failure to reach a deal on Netanyahu refusing to write down his commitments on diplomatic issues.

The Palestinian Authority issued a press statement on Thursday saying that Avigdor Liberman joining the Israeli government demonstrates that Israel favors extremism and reinforcement of occupation and settlements over peace.

"The appointment of Liberman to serve as a minister in Netanyahu's government is an answer to the regional, international and French efforts to reinvigorate the Israeli-Palestinian peace process," the statement read.

Source: Jerusalem Post, May 19, 2016

A Death Penalty Only for Palestinians

There are so many reasons to oppose capital punishment. But Avigdor Lieberman's attempt to adopt it is particularly odious.

The question of the death penalty is once again on the public agenda, because this was one of MK Avigdor Lieberman's demands in his negotiations to bring his Yisrael Beiteinu party into the coalition. But Lieberman will apparently give up on a bill sponsored by Sharon Gal, a former Knesset member from his party, that would have allowed Israel's civilian courts to impose the death penalty for terrorist murders.

Instead, he is focusing on an attempt to actualize an existing but hitherto dormant legal provision allowing military courts in the territories to impose the death penalty. This would be done by scrapping the rule that capital punishment can be imposed only if it is unanimously approved by the military judges hearing the case. Lieberman's proposal would allow capital punishment even if only a majority of the judicial bench supports it.

It should be noted that as long as the military prosecution's policy of not even seeking the death penalty remains unaltered, the possibility of capital punishment is unlikely to arise. Nevertheless, it's clear that the new legislation is also an attempt to sway the military prosecution and instruct it on how to behave.

Therefore, to all the known arguments against the death penalty - which have led to its abolition in all Western democracies aside from a few U.S. states - an additional argument must be added, one that justifies a special and vigorous opposition to the current effort to enact capital punishment: This is an attempt to apply the death penalty to only one population group only: the Palestinians. After all, an Israeli citizen who perpetrates a terrorist murder (like the murder of a Palestinian family in the West Bank village of Duma, according to the indictment) will be brought to trial in a civilian court, not a military one.

This selective application of the death penalty (which admittedly already exists on paper, but which the government is now seeking to implement) is liable to further erode Israel's international legitimacy as a country aspiring to belong to the family of democratic states. And on this issue, it won't be possible to rely on the American precedent, because capital punishment in America isn't applied selectively to a certain population group.

Aside from the discrimination the government is seeking to promote, the very fact that this demand to allow capital punishment, whether by military or civilian courts, is even being discussed in principle ought to worry us. Morally, this is a shocking punishment: A state is taking a life in the name of its citizens. And this is happening at a time when even the best researchers haven't succeeded in proving that capital punishment creates deterrence, and despite the possibility, which has occurred in practice, that an innocent person might be convicted.

The claim that the state ought to have the authority to put terrorists to death by court order also leads to support for executions motivated by revenge. This is the road to moral degeneration, ending in a violent, undemocratic society that lacks the rule of law. In this regard, it's possible to see a link between the circumstances under which Lieberman is replacing Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon and Lieberman's insistence on adopting capital punishment.

Source: Editorial, Ha'aretz, May 22, 2016

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