government: Parliamentary democracy
state of civil and political rights: Free
constitution: no formal constitution; some of the functions of a constitution are filled by the Declaration of Establishment (1948), the basic laws of the parliament (Knesset), and the Israeli citizenship law.
Since May 2003 The Constitution Committee has been working on a draft constitution
legal system: based on common law, and, for the rights of the individual, on Jewish, Christian and Muslim codes
legislative system: unicameral parliament (Knesset)
judicial system: Supreme Court (justices appointed by Judicial Selection Committee - mandatory retirement age is 70)
religion: 76% Jewish; 16% Muslim; Christian
year of last executions: 0-0-0
death sentences: 0
international treaties on human rights and the death penalty:
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
Convention on the Rights of the Child
Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
Statute of the International Criminal Court (which excludes the death penalty) (only signed)
The country has been abolitionist for ordinary crimes since 1954.
Since the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, the death penalty has been imposed and executed on only one occasion. In 1962, Adolph Eichmann was put to death under the Nazi and Nazi Collaborators (Punishment) Law, 1950.
It is the prevailing view that all five of the remaining offences for which the death penalty remains carry a discretionary capital sentence. Capital offences are: genocide; murder of persecuted persons committed during the Nazi regime; acts of treason under the military law and under the penal law committed in time of hostilities and the illegal use and carrying of arms.
Extradition to Israel only involves the death penalty in exceptional cases. One such case involved Ivan Demjanjuk. Ukrainian-born Demjanjuk was identified as ‘Ivan the Terrible’, a Nazi guard at the Treblinka concentration camp in Poland by Jewish survivors. He was extradited from the United States and sentenced to death by a special tribunal in Jerusalem under the Nazi and Nazi Collaborators (Punishment) Law in 1988. The Supreme Court acquitted him in 1993 after evidence suggested that another Ukrainian was Ivan the Terrible. Demjanjuk was the second person, after Eichmann, to face a war crimes trial in Israel.
On 15 July 2015, the unicameral legislature of Israel (Knesset) voted down a bill proposed by Yisrael Beytenu that would have enabled military and district courts to more easily sentence a ter-rorist to death.
The bill was rejected in its first reading by 94-6, with all six “yes” votes coming from members of Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu.
On 12 July, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had ordered lawmakers from his Likud party to oppose the bill, which had the support of Ministers Miri Regev, Danny Danon and Ofir Akunis, all belonging to Likud party.
The measure, which was a key election promise of Yisrael Beytenu leader Liberman, would have made it easier for military and district courts to sentence to death those convicted of murder with nationalist motives. Under the bill, convicted terrorists could be sentenced to death with a simple majority of judges, rather than the unanimous decision required under current law.
“Death sentences will strengthen Israel’s deterrence. It’s moral and ethical to legislate it in order to save the lives of our citizens,” said Yisrael Beytenu MK Sharon Gal, the lawmaker who pro-posed the bill. However, the death penalty bill was fiercely opposed by some MKs – primarily, though not exclusively from the Left – who oppose the death penalty in principle and have argued that it would simply turn terrorist killers into “martyrs.”
On December 19, 2016, Israel again co-sponsored and voted in favour of the Resolution on a Moratorium on the Use of the Death Penalty at the UN General Assembly.