Israel Confirms UK Arrest Warrant Against Livni

Published on
by
Haaretz

Israel Confirms UK Arrest Warrant Against Livni

by
Barak Ravid

Israel's opposition leader and former foreign minister Tzipi Livni attends the annual Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) conference in Tel Aviv December 15, 2009. A British court issued an arrest warrant for Livni on war crimes charges but withdrew it on finding she had cancelled a planned trip to Britain, the Guardian newspaper reported. REUTERS/Gil Cohen Magen (ISRAEL - Tags: POLITICS)

The Foreign Ministry on Tuesday called for an end to the "absurd situation" in which arrest warrants were being issued to Israeli officials over alleged war crimes in the Gaza Strip.

"Only actions can put an end to this absurd situation, which would have seemed a comedy of errors were it not so serious," said the Foreign Ministry, a day after it emerged that opposition leader Tzipi Livni had canceled her trip to Britain after a warrant was issued for her arrest.

Senior officials in Israel confirmed reports on Monday that a British court had issued an arrest warrant against opposition leader Tzipi Livni for her role in orchestrating Israel's military offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip nearly a year ago.

The request for the warrant was submitted by a pro-Palestinian organization.

British sources reported late Monday that though a British court had issued an arrest warrant for Livni over war crimes allegedly committed in Gaza while she served as foreign minister, it annulled it upon discovering she was not in the U.K.

Livni served as foreign minister alongside Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak during the Israel Defense Forces offensive in Gaza. The three figures comprised the "troika" of top decision-makers who charted the course of the war.

Earlier Monday, Arab-language media reported that Livni canceled her participation in a Jewish function in London after a warrant for her arrest was issued over part in last winter's Israel's Gaza offensive.

Israel's ambassador to London, Ron Prosor, conferred with officials in the British Ministry of Justice who told him that they were unaware of any criminal complaint or arrest warrant against the former foreign minister.

Yet, further inquiries by Israeli officials revealed that a warrant had indeed been issued.

Al-Quds Al-Arabi claimed on Monday that Scotland Yard advised the organizers of the Jewish National Fund conference in northwest London that the former foreign minister had canceled her scheduled address to the assembly over threats of a possible lawsuit by pro-Palestinian groups.

The Al-Quds Al-Arabi report also said that a group of about 100 anti-Israel protesters rallied outside the Hendon Hall Hotel on Sunday, just as delegates arrived at the JNF meet.

Livni's office said in a statement following the report that her appearance at the London event was canceled two weeks ago due to a scheduling conflict.

Livni's office also said that the opposition leader was proud of all the decisions she made as foreign minister during the Gaza war, an operation which she said achieved its goal of bring security to Israel.

A United Kingdom court two months ago deferred until further notice an appeal by local pro-Palestinian groups to issue an arrest warrant against Barak, who was visiting the country at the time.

A similar appeal was issued in 2004 against Israel's then defense minister, Shaul Mofaz. At the time, Mofaz was granted immunity from international arrest and trial - a precedent set by the British court, which until then had given such protection only to foreign ministers or premiers.

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