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Knesset Rejects Death Penalty As Deterrent for Terrorists

March 14, 1991
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The Knesset on Wednesday decisively rejected the death penalty for terrorists, after a stormy debate in which one member was ejected and the session suspended for five minutes to allow tempers to cool.

The measure, introduced as a private members bill, rather than a government initiative, by Tzahi Hanegbi of Likud, called for hanging terrorists who commit murder. It was defeated by a vote of 35-16.

Justice Minister Dan Meridor explained that the government’s opposition to capital punishment was based on neither moral nor legal considerations.

On both those grounds, hanging the perpetrators of heinous crimes is justified, he said. The issue therefore reduces to a pragmatic question, the justice minister said: Would hanging be a deterrent, or would it encourage crimes of desperation?

Meridor pointed out that Israel’s security services continue to oppose the death sentence.

The ferocity of the debate reflected the country’s shock and fury over Sunday’s fatal stabbings of four Israeli woman by an Palestinian from the Gaza Strip.

The debate degenerated rapidly into vituperative mudslinging between Hanegbi, on one side, and some members of the Labor Party and Citizens Rights Movement on the other.

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