Liberals like to point to Israel as an example of a country under constant threat of terrorist violence, but which nevertheless does not impose a death penalty on those carrying out said violence.
That might be about to change.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday gave a green light for lawmakers to push forward a bill that would make it easier to apply the death penalty to Palestinian terrorists convicted of murdering Israeli civilians or soldiers.
Many Israelis have long called for such measures, infuriated by the fact that even the most blood-soaked terrorists are often set free after only a relatively short time in jail as part of "goodwill peace gestures" toward the Palestinian Authority. Experts argue that this practice not only encourages terrorism, but has led to a hardening of Palestinian Authority positions that has in turn resulted in stagnation of the peace process.
At the same time, Israel's security chiefs have warned Netanyahu and his government that imposing the death penalty might spark an explosion of terrorist violence. The prime minister stated this week that those concerns, while valid, should not prevent the representatives of the people from considering and voting on the measure.
Israel technically has the death penalty, but it is currently so difficult to apply that it might as well not even be on the books. The only time Israel has ever applied the death penalty was in the case of convicted Nazi officer and Holocaust architect Adolf Eichmann.
The current system requires a special panel of three judges to unanimously approve the death penalty. The new bill would allow a simple majority of two-to-one judges to impose capital punishment.
PHOTO: Israel Supreme Court justices consider motions to punish convicted Palestinian terrorists. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)