Bill Seeks to Revoke Pardon of Schalit Deal Prisoners
Likud MK Zeev Elkin seeks to expedite legislation changing status of terrorists released as part of 2011 prisoner exchange from “pardoned” to “paroled,” to facilitate their reincarceration • “It’s high time we changed the rules of the game,” he says.
A new bill seeking to revoke the clemency afforded to Palestinian security prisoners released as part of the Schalit deal has garnered the support of MKs from nearly all Knesset factions. The bill is promoted by Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Chairman MK Zeev Elkin (Likud).
The 2011 prisoner exchange deal meant to secure the safe return of Hamas captive IDF soldier Gilad Schalit included the release of 1,027 Palestinian inmates held in Israel, including some 280 terrorists who were sentenced to life in prison for perpetrating terror attacks against Israeli targets.
They were released under a presidential pardon afforded to security prisoners in such cases. Some two weeks ago, the government approved a bill seeking to enable the courts to impose a life sentence on terrorists without the chance of presidential pardon, thus effectively excluding them from any future deal.
Elkin plans to ask the Knesset to expedite the legislation proceedings, to ensure the bill is enacted without delay.
Current Israeli law stipulates that inmates slated to be pardoned as part of a prisoner exchange must sign a legal document limiting their movements and barring them from any future affiliation with a terrorist organization. As they are pardoned by the president, the law further mandates the exhaustion of due process against them, should they violate the terms of the deal.
Elkin’s bill seeks to change the legal status of such security prisoners from “pardoned” to “paroled,” thus allowing the state to revoke their parole and immediately incarcerate them for the duration of their sentence.
“It’s high time we turn the tables and change the rules of the game. Terrorists need to know that heinous abductions result in their imprisonment—not in their release,” Elkin said Thursday.
“Every terror group must be made to understand that carrying out abductions is useless. They have to understand that any released terrorists always risks being imprisoned again.”
Meir Indor, who heads the Almagor Terror Victims Association, commented on the bill, saying, “We shouldn’t need a cabinet decision to uphold a promise given to [terror victims’] families, that any pardoned terrorist who breaks the law would be re-arrested.”
Political sources hedged that given the wide support the bill has garnered it is likely to pass its Knesset readings without much opposition.
A second bill introduced by Elkin on Thursday seeks to limit the president’s ability to pardon security prisoners and prisoners convicted of perpetrating crimes against the state, giving the government the sole authority to pardon such prisoners or commute their sentence.
Elkin noted that the legislation proposal aims to remedy the current situation, whereby the president can issue a pardon on political or foreign policy grounds rather than on the merits of the particular case.
Meanwhile, lawmakers on the Right, led by MK Moti Yogev (Habayit Hayehudi), introduced a legislation proposal calling for a mandatory life sentence for terrorists who abduct Israeli citizens as part of an armed struggle. Under Israel’s Criminal Code, such crimes are punishable by up to a 20-year sentence.