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Proposed Law: Imprisonment of Combatants Not Entitled to Prisoner-of-War Status

Today, Wednesday, June 21, in a vote of 22 to 6, Israel's Knesset passed the first reading of the proposed law, "Imprisonment of Combatants not Entitled to Prisoner-of-War Status."

The real objective of the proposed law, which has the unanimous support of the government, is to enable Israel to continue holding Sheikh 'Abd al-Karim Obeid and Mustafa Dirani as hostages. This comes after the Supreme Court recently prohibited such actions.

If the law is adopted, Israel would become the first country in the world to sanction by law the holding of hostages, an act that is a defining characteristic of terrorist groups around the world.

Both the purpose of the Proposed Law and the manner in which it seeks to attain that purpose are unacceptable. In order to whitewash this heinous act, the government proposed an illegitimate that is inconsistent with the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty, and with international humanitarian law. In addition, this law grants sweeping powers to the military.

B'Tselem sent to Members of Knesset a comprehensive position paper on the proposed law, and urged them not to support the law or be involved in enacting legislation that would be a stain on Israel's code of statutes.

The proposal law now goes to the Foreign Affairs and Security Committee, before returning to the full Knesset for the second and third readings required to pass into law. B'Tselem again calls upon Members of Knesset to give further consideration to the repercussions of such a law and to oppose it on second and third readings.