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Bill targeting end to terrorist swaps advances to Knesset

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s Cabinet approved a bill that aims to prevent Palestinian terrorists from early prison releases for hostage swaps or peace negotiations.

The legislation, which passed Sunday in a 15-5 vote at the weekly Cabinet meeting, would allow murderers to be sentenced to life in prison without parole. It would prevent the president from using his power to pardon criminals in cases such as terrorist attacks, nationalistic murders and the killing of a child. A judge would have to approve such pardons.

Before becoming law, the bill must pass three readings in the Knesset. The measure would not be retroactive to current prisoners in Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had delayed the vote a week over language seen as problematic by Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein.

In the past year, more than 75 Palestinian prisoners who murdered Jews were released from Israeli prisons in an effort to jump-start Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.

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