The Israeli government today postponed a debate on the emotional issue of imposing the death penalty on Arab terrorists convicted of murder. The Cabinet appointed a ministerial committee to study the legal and security implications of the death penalty proposal for a week.
A panel of ministers under Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin, all with military or legal backgrounds, was told to give its recommendations to the Cabinet before Sunday so the issue can be debated then.
Also, the 10-member "inner cabinet" of Prime Minister Shimon Peres was told to make other recommendations on proposals to strengthen the security of Israeli areas close to the occupied West Bank.
The studies were ordered amid a rise of anti-Arab sentiment here following the kidnap-slayings of two Jewish schoolteachers last week in Afula, in northern Israel. Police have arrested three Palestinian youths from nearby Jenin, in the West Bank.
Although the Cabinet met today as the ministerial Defense and Security Committee, which makes its deliberations classified and censorable information, it was understood that most ministers favor a security crackdown in the occupied territories, including deportation of persons who incite terrorism, increased use of security forces and a greater use of the practice of destroying the houses of families of Arabs arrested for attacks on Israelis.
There is less support, according to Cabinet sources, for using capital punishment against terrorists.
Peres is understood to have put off a decision on the capital punishment issue partly because there is no agreement in the Cabinet and partly because he wanted to put more time between the funerals yesterday of the slain Afula teachers and a Cabinet debate on the controversial subject.