Palestinians slam Israel bill to execute ‘terrorists’

Palestinians have reacted angrily to an Israeli draft law -- a preliminary reading of which was approved on Wednesday -- that would allow Palestinian "terrorists" to be sentenced to death.

Palestinian officials have described the bill as "fascist", saying it aims to provide legal cover for Israel's brutal repression of Palestinian rights.

Proposed by Israel's far-right Yisrael Beiteinu party, a first reading of the bill was approved on Wednesday in a Knesset vote of 52 to 49.

Second and third readings of the bill, however, must now be approved before the legislation becomes law.

The bill has been heavily endorsed by Avigdor Lieberman, Israel's hardline defense minister, and was part of an earlier coalition agreement with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing Likud party.

On Thursday, the Palestinian Foreign Ministry said the bill amounted to "state terrorism".

"This bill is an escalation of the arbitrary measures adopted by Israel against the Palestinians and its continued violations of international law and human rights," the ministry said in a statement.

Palestinian resistance movement Hamas, for its part, warned the self-proclaimed Jewish state against implementing the bill.

"Enactment of this law would ignite a new Intifada [uprising] against the Israeli occupation and threaten to blow up the entire region," Hamas spokesman Abdel Latif al-Qanoua told Anadolu Agency.

The bill, al-Qanoua said, "stands contrary to all international humanitarian laws and conventions."

He went on to urge Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to file a case against Israeli leaders at The Hague-based International Criminal Court "for their ongoing crimes against the Palestinian people."

Qaddoura Fares, head of the Palestinian Prisoners Club, told Anadolu Agency: "While most countries look to abolish the death penalty for criminal convicts, the occupying state [i.e., Israel] is resorting to fascist methods to apply it to Palestinian political prisoners."

Devoted to safeguarding the rights of Palestinians jailed by Israel, the Prisoners Club, a Ramallah-based NGO, is one of Palestine's largest civil-society organizations.

According to Fares, Wednesday's Knesset approval of the bill's first reading constitutes "the occupation's latest attempt to undermine Palestinians' rights and dignity."

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