The controversial bill was able to pass Wednesday’s preliminary vote after last-minute efforts by the coalition, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to muster a majority.

Photo credit: Hadas Porush, Flash 90

A bill to allow capital punishment for terrorists passed a preliminary Knesset vote on Wednesday by a narrow majority.

The coalition struggled to gather enough members to vote in favor of the bill, prompting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to make last-minute phone calls to MKs, urging them to show up for the vote.

“There are extreme cases in which people who committed horrible acts do not deserve to live,” Netanyahu said during the meeting. He added that the main purpose of the bill is to allow the decision to setence a terrorist to death to be made by a majority of two out of three judges rather than the government.

Opposition members accused Netanyahu of endorsing the bill for purely political reasons.

“The entire Israeli security establishment, which is out there every hour of every day fighting terrorism, opposes the death penalty,” said Zionist Union MK Tzipi Livni. “This legislation is purely political and is being endorsed by a nervous politician who fears for his seat.”

The vote on Wednesday marked a victory for Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who has made the bill one of his major campaign vows.