“Why change it? This would cause serious problems,” Hassan al-Ouri told Ma’an, adding that such a reform would “not benefit women.”
In May 2011, the president pledged to amend the law to guarantee maximum penalties for “honor killing” in response to protests over the killing of university student Aya Baradiya in Hebron.
The decision was announced in a phone call to a primetime show on state TV, drawing tears among crowds of mourners shown in a live link-up from the Ramallah studio to Baradiya’s hometown.
Abbas suspended Article 340, which offers a pardon for murder if the perpetrator committed the crime on finding his wife in bed with another man.
The reform was cosmetic: Article 340 had never been used in Palestinian courts since it was legislated in 1960.
“So why did we change the law? To garner public opinion,” al-Ouri said in an interview in the presidential compound in Ramallah.
“I, personally, was against the amendment because the crimes that happen in the street have no relevance to Article 340,” the legal adviser added.
Al-Ouri says the president will not change the go-to clauses for lawyers seeking leniency for clients who claim they committed murder to defend family “honor.”
Articles 97 to 100 of the Jordanian Penal Code, in force in the West Bank, still offer reduced sentences for any act of battery or murder committed in a “state of rage.”
“The (law) only addresses 1 percent of the problem. What we need is a new culture,” al-Ouri said.
Other officials insist the penal code is the problem.
The law “privileges the killer,” Interior Ministry official Haitham Arrar told Ma’an.
“It encourages some people to commit crimes against women, which will go (as far as) killing them,” said Arrar, who heads the ministry’s democracy and human rights unit.