Israeli FM calls for death penalty for 'terrorists'

Israeli courts have previously meted out life sentences – not death penalties – against Palestinians convicted of killing Israelis

JERUSALEM (AA) – Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has said his party planned to draft legislation that would make Palestinian attacks on Israel punishable by death.

"Releasing terrorists in prisoner-exchange deals gives terrorist groups hope that Israel will surrender," Lieberman said at a Tel Aviv conference hosted by the Institute for National Security Studies, an Israeli NGO.

Lieberman, leader of the far-right Yisrael Beiteinu party, said his party would sponsor a bill before the Knesset sanctioning the death penalty for Palestinians convicted of staging attacks on Israel.

"Our main problem is terrorism," Lieberman said. "Terrorist groups seek to become terrorist states and it is our role to prevent this."

Israeli courts have previously meted out life sentences – not death penalties – against Palestinians convicted of killing Israelis.

Over 7,000 Palestinians are currently languishing in prisons throughout Israel, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Prisoners' Affairs.

Israel is expected to hold general elections on March 17 after the Knesset was dissolved late last year due to divisions within Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition government.

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