- Israel approved the first draft of a bill making it easier to impose death sentences
- The EU said the death penalty "constitutes inhuman and degrading treatment"
- Netanyahu said the penalty is "justice in extreme situations"
- The bill does not explicitly mention Palestinians but is believed to be targeting them
The European Union (EU) has condemned the preliminary endorsement of a bill at the Israeli parliament which would ease conditions for courts to sentence "terrorists" to death, saying the measure is “incompatible with human dignity.”
The death penalty “constitutes inhuman and degrading treatment, does not have any proven deterrent effect and allows judicial errors to become irreversible and fatal,” a statement released by the EU read on Wednesday.
The statement came hours after the Israeli parliament (Knesset), in a narrow 52-49 vote, approved the first draft of a bill that would make it easier for military courts to impose a death sentence against those involved in murders or “terrorist operations.”
The motion proposed by the Minister for Military Affairs, Avigdor Lieberman, seeks to amend the current law and replace it by a simple majority decision of the judges.
At the moment, the death penalty in Israel can only be imposed if a panel of three military judges passes sentence unanimously. Should the amendment bill becomes law, a “terrorist” could be sentenced to death if two of the three judges agree to it.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a strong supporter of the bill, had told the Knesset ahead of the vote that death penalty is “justice in extreme situations.”
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Opposition lawmaker Tzipi Livni spoke out against the bill, calling it “reckless, 100 percent politics.”
The bill does not mention any specific ethnicity, but it seems to be targeted at Palestinians labelled “terrorists” for allegedly attacking Israeli forces.
Palestinian officials have not yet commented on the controversial bill.
Israel has been emboldened by the U.S.’ decision last month to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s “capital,” outraging Palestinians and triggering warnings across the world. The U.N. resoundingly rejected that policy shift in a General Assembly vote.
Earlier this week, the Israeli parliament adopted a law that makes it more difficult to cede parts of Jerusalem to Palestinians, who want the eastern section of the occupied city as the capital of their future state.
The central committee of Netanyahu’s Likud Party also voted for a non-binding resolution over the weekend, asking Israeli law to be applied to “the freed settled expanses of the West Bank,” which refers to the parts of the occupied land where Israel has built settlements in defiance of international law since 1967.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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