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Throwing stones, starting fires: Shaked's first bill as justice minister

A draft law sponsored by Ayelet Shaked would dramatically lower the bar for convicting Palestinians in Jerusalem for throwing stones, and set a penalty of 10 years in prison. The law’s application to West Bank settlers is unlikely.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Photo by Activestills.org)

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Photo by Activestills.org)

A key government committee on Sunday passed a bill that would make it much easier to convict people of throwing stones at moving vehicles, and dramatically increase the punishment generally meted out on stone-throwers. The bill, sponsored by newly appointed Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home), is effectively a resuscitation of legislation proposed by former Justice Minister Tzipi Livni last November.

Although the bill has yet to pass in the Knesset, being approved by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation means that it is very likely to become law. The committee decides which bills the governing coalition will put its legislative weight behind.

Shaked proposed two amendments to the existing law governing punishments for stone-throwers, which already allows for a 20-year prison sentence if one throws stones at a moving vehicle with intent to harm or endanger its passengers. Under the new bill, a new offense for the same crime is added, dropping the requirement to show intent to harm or endanger the passengers. The new crime will carry a 10-year prison sentence.

Under the current law, prosecutors have shied away from seeking the 20-year sentence because criminal intent is very difficult to prove. The State generally seeks lesser charges, resulting in prison sentences that range from a few months to two years. The new law will make it much easier to get a conviction.

The law was a response to unrest in Jerusalem last summer and in theory only applies within Israel proper, but given the parallel legal systems in the occupied territories, the proposed law would technically apply to Israeli settlers living in the West Bank as well. However, Israeli police tend to treat incidents of stone-throwing and violence by Israelis towards Palestinians with indifference or incompetence, meaning that the increased prison terms will likely only be handed down to Palestinians.

Irrespective of the passage of Shaked’s bill, “unofficial” punishments for stone-throwing on both sides of the Green Line tend to be blind to age and often collective in nature. In East Jerusalem, entire streets have been doused in foul-smelling ‘skunk’ liquid in response to clashes that included stone-throwing. The army recently closed off the West Bank village of Hizme for two days, while posting signs to let residents know that the closure was intended to induce informing on stone-throwers in their midst.

Palestinian youth throw stones during clashes in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Ras al Amud, with the Aqsa Mosque seen in the background. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Palestinian youth throw stones during clashes in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Ras al Amud, with the Aqsa Mosque seen in the background. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

As for Ayelet Shaked, this bill gives a preview of what can be expected from a Justice Ministry in her grasp: legislation specifically (if not explicitly) targeting Palestinians, and a broadening of the scope under which they can be prosecuted and convicted. In boxing terms, she is “taking the gloves off” — and indeed, why bother softening the blow when you have made your opinion on Palestinians abundantly clear to the world?

In the coalition agreements Prime Minister Netanyahu negotiated in recent months, he built in personal veto power over any bill that comes before the government — to be used in order to put the brakes on legislation that might put Israel on a collision course with the international community. But judging from the fact that this bill made it through the ministerial committee, it appears Shaked will have fairly free reign in her new position.

Shaked is in a position to make life worse for Palestinians and do damage to Israeli-Palestinian society as a whole. Reflecting on her potential appointment earlier this year, Labor MK Nachman Shai lashed out that appointing Shaked to head the Justice Ministry would be “like appointing a pyromaniac to head the fire department,” which is another way of saying that the inmates are running the asylum. Sunday’s bill was just the beginning.

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    1. Pedro X

      Shaked is a very smart politician. She was voted into the number two position on the Jewish Home ticket. She is secular and a Jewish nationalist on the right of the political spectrum.

      The Israeli public concerned with matters of security voted for a right wing government. Shaked is bringing in a law and order bill to counter Palestinian attacks. She will make Palestinians pay a commensurate penalty for their violence and terrorism which will make them think twice about their violence or take them off the streets for a greater time than happens now.

      Rudy Giuliani got tough on crime in New York and reduced greatly the crime rate. May Shaked reduce the Palestinian violence with tough laws against perpetrators of violence.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Ginger Eis

      Here Are The Indisputable Facts:

      FACT 1: Palestinians are by definition NOT Rock-throwers!

      FACT 2: Rock-throwers ambush unsuspecting innocent civilians and pelt them with rocks;

      FACT 3: On the 23 of September 2011 a 24yrs old innocent civilian motorist traveled by car on a highway. In his car was also his infant son. Said car was ambushed by rock-throwers who pelted it with rocks causing it to overturn and crash killing both father and son! The name of the 24yrs old is Asher Palmer. His infant son’s name is Yonatan Palmer.

      FACT 4: 14 innocent civilians have suffered slow and agonizing deaths at the hands of Rock-throwers!

      FACT 5: of the innocent civilians killed by rock-throwers, 3 were Arabs whom the Rock-throwers mistakenly thought were Jews!

      FACT 6: The Legislation proposed by Signora Ayelet Shaked targets Rock-throwers and ONLY Rock-throwers! The Legislation does NOT “specifically target Palestinians – as alleged in this article! The Legislation does NOT “explicitly” target Palestinians” – as alleged in this article! The Legislation does NOT implicitly target” Palestinians!

      FACT 7: The Goal of the Legislation is (a) the protection of the lives and physical integrity of innocent civilians regardless of their race, ethnicity, nationality, genders, age, skin color, etc.

      Based on the above irrefutable facts, the claim: “As for Ayelet Shaked, this bill gives a preview of what can be expected from a Justice Ministry in her grasp: legislation specifically (if not explicitly) targeting Palestinians, and a broadening of the scope under which they can be prosecuted and convicted” wholly and utterly false and designed to smear and demonize Signora Ayelet Shaked and assassinate her Good Character!

      (the original post was sent a day ago. +972mag/Natasha Roth does not want its/her propaganda challenged!)

      Reply to Comment
    3. Jello

      Don’t want to go to prison for 10 years? Don’t throw stones at moving cars.

      I don’t know what the Palestinians have to do with this law unless you are suggesting that Palestinians are far more likely to try to murder people driving cars by throwing stones at fast-moving vehicles.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Shlomo Shunn

      So basically Israel justifies Kristallnacht. That is, it agrees that the Reich had the right to collectively punish Jews and use superior force against weaker, unarmed others.

      Good to know. It explains why the Jewish State never misses a chance to give war a chance.

      Now the world knows the words “never again” only apply to the Chosen People. It seems that somehow Yahweh gives them a pass to do unto others what they constantly complain the world has done to them.

      Reply to Comment