The Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved a bill Sunday granting courts veto powers over presidential pardons for convicted terrorists serving life sentences for murder. The bill goes next to the Knesset for preliminary approval. If passed, it would tie government hands against releasing Palestinian terrorists serving time for murder either for swaps - as in the case of the 1,000 terrorists handed over for Israeli soldier Gilead Shalit held hostage by Hamas - or in the context of peace diplomacy.

Last year, Israel released 80 convicted Palestinian prisoners as per Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas’ initial condition for joining US Secretary of State John Kerry’s peace initiative. Under the new law, the president would not be allowed to pardon a murderer or commute his/her life sentence out of political considerations without court review.

The bill was proposed by MK Ayelet Shaked of the Jewish Home faction and David Tsur of The Movement. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu ordered his Likud faction to support the bill in order to open a new page for Israel’s war on terror and as a show of empathy with the bereaved families of victims. Seven ministers voted for the bill; three voted against - including Minister of Justice Tzipi Livni, who was the lead negotiator in the moribund talks  with the Palestinians, and two Future faction Ministers, Yael German and Yaakov Perry