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Cabinet Postpones Until Next Week Debate on Implementing Death Penalty

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The Cabinet today decided to postpone until next week debate on the implementation of capital punishment and deportation of terrorist murderers as two government ministers each outlined tougher anti-terrorist plans.

The Cabinet said in a communique following its meeting today that while it deferred discussion on the issue, the government did decide it would step up security against terrorist attacks. The communique also said Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin had been appointed to head a ministerial committee to study the legality of tougher measures.

The government has come under increased pressure to discuss the implementation of capital punishment following last week’s murder of two school teachers from the town of Afula. The two bodies were discovered stuffed into a cave on the Gilboa Hills last Friday and over the weekend three West Bank Arab youths were arrested in connection with the murders.

The murders are the latest in a number of cases involving the disappearance of individuals and couples whose bodies were later found, apparently killed by terrorists. A public opinion poll published yesterday in Haaretz showed some 70.5 percent of 1,200 people interviewed supported capital punishment for terrorists while 20 percent indicated opposition to it.

A SPLIT IN THE CABINET

The Cabinet is reportedly split on implementing the death penalty which is on the statute books but has not been used against terrorists. Likud ministers are said to favor the death penalty while the Labor ministers favor automatic deportation of Arabs found guilty of terrorist acts — to reduce the number of PLO supporters in Israeli prisons who can be used as bargaining chips in hijack demands.

The practice of deporting Arab terrorists and political leaders was stopped as a general rule in 1979 by then Defense Minister Ezer Weizman, but there were some exceptions including the deportation of two Arab mayors from the West Bank and the recent deportation of a former security prisoner from the Gaza Strip.

ARENS, SHARON ISSUE SEPARATE PROPOSALS

Following today’s Cabinet session, two former Defense Ministers, Moshe Arens and Ariel Sharon, issued their separate proposals to deal with security in the administered territories.

Arens, a Minister Without Portfolio, proposed in a five-point plan the implementation of mandatory death sentences for brutal murders and the deportation of those who incite violence in the territories. He also recommended that Palestinian refugee camps on the West Bank harboring alleged stone throwers be relocated to isolated areas near Jericho.

The Cabinet next week is also scheduled to discuss ways and means to defend the Arab population against actions by Jewish extremists. The Cabinet, which usually meets on Sundays, did not meet yesterday because of Tisha B’Av.

Sharon, meanwhile, urged the government to attack Palestinian terrorist headquarters in Jordan, and to tell the United States and King Hussein of Jordan that Israel will not enter into peace negotiations while terrorists are based in Jordan.

Sharon, the Industry and Trade Minister, also said he would deport or re-arrest the some 600 terrorists released last May into Israel and the occupied territories as part of the prisoner exchange deal which allowed for the release of three Israel Defense Force soldiers captured in the Lebanon war.

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