Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Israel adopts new law that prohibits exchange of prisoners convicted of murder

Israel's parliament has passed a law that could block the release in any future peace negotiations of Palestinian prisoners convicted of murder, a spokesman said Tuesday. The 120-member Knesset voted late Monday 35 to 15 in favour of the bill, which was initiated by a far-right politician and approved by the cabinet in June, a parliament spokesman told AFP.
The law gives judges the power to convict murderers under a new category of "extraordinarily severe circumstances" which would prevent the government from releasing them in any future deals.
Israel freed 78 Palestinian prisoners during failed US-backed peace talks between July 2013 and April, including many who had been convicted for murdering Israeli civilians. In 2011 it released 1,027 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit who had been held for five years by the Palestinian  group Hamas.
The releases angered hardliners such as Ayelet Shaked of the far-right Jewish Home party who initiated the new law earlier this year. But left-leaning politicians have said the law would tie Israel's hands in future talks, with Zehava Gal-On of the Meretz party accusing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of "capitulating to the extreme right and supporting a demagogic law."

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