Friday, June 06, 2014

6-Jun-14: Will the commuting of terrorists' sentences be taken off the politicians' tables?

Palestinian Arab protesters demanding still more terrorist releases. The
poster features the face of Abdullah Barghouti who killed 66 Israelis
including our daughter and has said publicly
he will kill more once he is freed. [Image Source]
Readers of this blog know the passion with which we oppose terrorists being freed prematurely from the prison cells to which they were sentenced for their crimes. Those releases, mostly the result of extortion, rarely have anything to do with the felons or their perceived sense of repentance, and much to do with political considerations. 

Those considerations are wrong on several levels, principally because of the irreversible harm they do to justice. We have tried hard to express that over and again during the past few years: 
4-May-14: Who cares about justice? About the victims? About truth? • 27-Aug-13: Justice devalued, lives demeaned, principles cheapened: the high price of freeing murderers • 25-Aug-13: Wake up call for those who thought the terrorists are walking free for peace • 14-Aug-13: Quietly but urgently knocking on the door of the Department of State • 21-Jul-13: In the debate over whether Israel should free convicted terrorists, one key argument is mostly ignored • 10-Jun-12: "Prime Minister Netanyahu: Honor the principles of justice and decency on which our nation is based • 23-Nov-09: On freeing a monster • 22-Jul-08: The once and future child murderer
We tried desperately to prevent our daughter's murderer, a woman called Tamimi, from being set free in the Shalit Transaction of 2011. We failed. We failed again (not for lack of trying) when the mass-murderer sought to be united with her then-fiance, another killer of innocent Israelis whose unjust release was extorted in the same deal, a year later. The two now live free and very public lives as celebrities in the Arab world.

We have written about how the three judges who sentenced Tamimi in 2003 to 16 terms of life imprisonment took a moment, evidently stunned by the young female psychopath's lack of remorse, to say for the record: 
Before signing this judgment, we find it appropriate, in the spirit of the military prosecutor’s request, to recommend that the guilty party not be eligible for pardon by the military commander, nor to early parole by any other means. 
Sadly, the way it worked out, the court's recommendation counted for nothing. 

Now for its own reasons the government here is supporting a change to the law. Recent news reports about this new law have gotten the key part of the story wrong. Just two examples: "New bill would limit pardons for convicted terrorists" (Israel Hayom, May 15, 2014); "Cabinet set to vote on bill to stymie terrorist pardons" (Haaretz, June 1, 2014). What they and many others get wrong is that in reality none of the terrorists released until now were pardoned. Their convictions stand. But their sentences were commuted, often dramatically as in the case of the engineer of our daughter's murder. In simple terms, their prison terms got shortened, subject to conditions that could put them back behind bars to serve the remainder of their sentences.

This Jerusalem Post article from yesterday gets it right:
Netanyahu to back law that would deny president power to commute sentences for terrorists: The law is aimed at preventing the large scale release of convicted Palestinian terrorists in the future 
By HERB KEINON [Jerusalem Post 06/05/2014 22:59]
Netanyahu threw his support Thursday behind a bill that would enable courts to convict terrorists to life in prison without any chance of a presidential commutation of their sentences, in a move apparently connected to the recent Hamas-Fatah unity pact. The security cabinet on Thursday decided to bring the proposed law to the full cabinet on Sunday, where it will be backed by Likud-Beytenu and Bayit Yehudi ministers... The bill, first proposed by Bayit Yehudi MK Ayelet Shaked, is aimed at preventing the large-scale release of convicted Palestinian terrorists. It would allow courts to stipulate in sentencing terrorists that the president will not – as is the case today – have the powers to commute the punishment.Seventy-eight Palestinian terrorists were set free in three batches since last August as part of a framework deal that led to eight months of negotiations with the PLO. Israel refused to release a final batch of 26 terrorists when it appeared the talks would not be extended past their original nine-month deadline. Each prisoner exchanged sparked heated debate inside the country as to the morality and wisdom of releasing terrorists with “blood on their hands”...
It's painful (an understatement) for us to see politicians claiming credit now for a bill, not yet a law, that will do zero to reverse the profound harm caused by the decisions they themselves took in the past three years. 

Still, if its effect in the future is to remove from the hands of the government's executive branch the power to overturn and undermine the decisions of the judges, the courts and the law for reasons of political expediency, that may yet be a basis for something good in the future. 

Or not. With politicians, it can often be hard to tell. 


Anonymous said...

You don't really believe that our crap politicians will pass a law that actually works,do you? Any law will be filled with loopholes big enough for a trailer truck to drive through.
Israeli politicians can't be trusted.

This Ongoing War said...

When the US State Department started pressuring Israel to free the 104 Palestinian Arab convicted killers in mid 2013, Israelis when polled (the only poll that was ever published on this subject) were against it to the extent of 91%. That's ninety-one percent. Ninety-one. [See]

How many then went out onto the streets to protest when the government road roughshod over public opinion on this vitally important issue?

Our point: it's not just the politicians who ought to be blamed.

But they do deserve some of what they get. We can share stories of know-nothing parliamentarians who supported the releases and had the hutzpah to give us reasons why it was right to do so.