Extensive Counterterrorism Bill Passes First Knesset Reading

A sweeping counterterrorism bill which would collect all existing legislation into one law passed its first reading in the Knesset on Thursday by a vote of 45-14. 

The bill, which broadens the definition of what constitutes a terror organization, will now move to the Knesset's Constitution, Law and Justice Committee for edits before a second and third reading. 

The legislation also stipulates a three-year jail sentence for those who publicly endorse terrorist groups, equalizes the punishment for those convicted of aiding terror to that of a convicted terrorist, and raises the maximum prison term for terror related crimes to 30 years. 

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked sponsored the bill, asserting it was intended to provide authorities with "the tolls it needs to lead an effective battle against terror organizations, both in their increasing activities and the ways they are funded. 

"In the fight against terror there is no left and right," she added. 

The bill was first proposed five years ago, but was stalled again and again in the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee.

It is expected to pass now, however, since the Ministerial Committee for Legislation called for the entire coalition to support it. How the opposition will vote, though, is another question. 

Despite anger over only receiving a copy of the bill on Monday, senior members of Zionist Union, the opposition's largest party, told Haaretz that party MKs would likely back the bill. 

“How could we explain to the public that we voted against a comprehensive, updated bill whose purpose is fighting terror?” asked one MK, who requested to remain anonymous.

During the last Knesset, the MK noted, the bill was endorsed by then-Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, now Zionist Union's second in command.

Meretz, on the other hand, will likely oppose the bill, after chairwoman Zehava Galon called some of its provisions "totalitarian."

Source: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/200255

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