Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
Fast Forward

Death Penalty For Terrorists Passes First Vote In Israeli Parliament

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel’s parliament gave preliminary approval on Wednesday for legislation that would make it easier for a court to pass a death sentence on assailants convicted of murder in attacks classified as terrorism.

Israeli military courts – which handle cases involving Palestinians in the occupied West Bank – already have the power to issue the death sentence, although this has never been implemented. The only case of an execution in Israel was carried out against convicted Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in 1962.

The amendment to the penal code would still require three more readings if it is to become law. Currently, a death penalty can only be imposed if a panel of three military judges passes sentence unanimously. If the amendment is adopted, a majority verdict would suffice.

Wednesday’s motion was brought by Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman, an ultra-nationalist in the conservative coalition government who advocates tough action against Palestinian militants. Fifty-two of parliament’s 120 members voted in favor, and 49 were opposed.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu voted for the motion but said that such legislation required deeper discussion and that the matter would now be considered at ministerial level before further debate in the Knesset.

In remarks to lawmakers on Wednesday, he said: “I think that in extreme cases, when somebody slaughters and laughs (as he kills), he should not spend the rest of his time in jail and should be executed.”

Asked by an Israeli Arab lawmaker whether he would also apply this reasoning to Jewish militants convicted of killing Palestinians, Netanyahu said: “In principle, yes.”

The successful vote was the latest in a number of motions brought by right-wing coalition members who feel able to pressure Netanyahu’s brittle government into enacting hard-line legislation, sometimes reluctantly.

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.