On 1 March, a terrifying new bill passed its first reading in the Israeli parliament. It would allow Israeli courts to impose the death penalty on Palestinians. However, it would not impose the same sentence on Israeli colonists.
The extreme right-wing Zionist Yisrael Beitenu (Israel Our Homeland) party proposed the Bill. Parliament passed it 55 votes for, 9 against.
As countries around the world have moved to abandon the death penalty as cruel, ineffective, and costly, Israel’s elected right-wing government took a step in the opposite direction on Wednesday, advancing a bill to impose the death penalty – but only on people of Palestinian ethnicity.
73% of countries worldwide have wholly or in practice abolished the death penalty, and no country has a death penalty law that applies only to people of one ethnicity.
IMEMC also pointed out:
Regardless of the law being considered in the Israeli Knesset [parliament], Israeli authorities do already carry out frequent executions of so-called ‘wanted’ Palestinians. These are extra-judicial assassinations carried out by missile or shooting, and without any trial or sentencing – in direct contravention of international law.
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A Palestinian Authority representative said the bill was a continuation of a “racist approach”. He also stated:
The one who should be tried for his crimes is the occupation, not a people suffering under the oppression of the occupiers.
The far right in Israel has long wanted to impose the death penalty on Palestinians. However, their efforts have so far been successfully opposed by those who think that the death sentence will only stoke Palestinian anger against the occupation. But this could change, as Israel’s current government is – as the Times of Israel said – the most right-wing ever.
The latest in a string of racist laws
The Israeli parliament has passed a series of racist laws in the past few years. Passed in 2022, the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law made it illegal for Palestinians to live with their spouses in the West Bank or Gaza. Middle East Eye wrote that the law:
blocks hundreds of Palestinian families from reuniting and living together.
The Jewish Nation-State Law, passed in 2018, consolidated the apartheid nature of the Israeli state. The Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel wrote in 2018:
This law – which has distinct apartheid characteristics – guarantees the ethnic-religious character of Israel as exclusively Jewish and entrenches the privileges enjoyed by Jewish citizens, while simultaneously anchoring discrimination against Palestinian citizens and legitimizing exclusion, racism, and systemic inequality.
This latest racist bill highlights the continuing need for international solidarity with the Palestinian people. You can learn about the Palestine solidarity movement in the UK by checking out the Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s website. Campaign group Palestine Action are calling for support in taking action against Israeli arms company Elbit. You can also view the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions call to action here.
Featured image via Flickr Creative Commons/Palestine Solidarity Project, cropped to 770×403Support us and go ad-free
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