Israel eyes law to deny clemency to Palestinian prisoners

AFP , Sunday 11 May 2014

Prisoner swap deal between Israel and Palestinians . (File Photo: AFP)

An Israeli ministerial committee gave its backing on Sunday to changes in the law that could block amnesty for Palestinians imprisoned for murdering Israelis.

Under the proposal passed by the committee for legislation, the courts would be empowered to prevent Israel's president from granting clemency or shortening the jail term of anyone imprisoned for murder.

The amendment to the Basic Law on the authority of the president, which was tabled by MP Ayelet Shaked of the far-right Jewish Home party along with other hardliners, still needs to pass a series of parliamentary votes before becoming law.

In the explanatory notes, Shaked says the aim is to amend the "absurd" reality of Israel releasing "a large number of terrorists as part of prisoner release deals or as diplomatic gestures."

"Israel has turned a new page in its battle against terror and its moral committment to bereaved families," said Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, who heads Jewish Home.

"Years of extortion and mass releases of terrorists will halt when the Knesset (parliament) approves this law," he said in a statement.

The latest round of US-led peace talks collapsed late last month after Israel refused to release a fourth and last round of 26 long-term Palestinian prisoners imprisoned for killing Israelis, breaching a commitment made in 2013.

Throughout the nine months of peace talks, Israel released 78 of the promised 104 long-term prisoners, in a move which angered hardliners.

Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was freed from more than five years of captivity by Gaza militants in 2011 in exchange for the release of 1,027 Palestinian prisoners.

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