Author Topic: UK court 'issued warrant for Livni'  (Read 2880 times)

nestopwar

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UK court 'issued warrant for Livni'
« on: December 14, 2009, 10:50:58 PM »
UK court 'issued warrant for Livni'

Al Jazeera - December 15th

Livni served as Israel's foreign minister during the country's war in Gaza earlier this year [REUTERS]

A British court reportedly issued an arrest warrant for Israel's former foreign minister on charges relating to Israel's 22-day war on Gaza, before apparently withdrawing it after it was found she was not in the country.

Tzipi Livni, the leader of the opposition Kadima party, had been expected to travel to London this week for an event organised by the Jewish National Fund, followed by meetings with British government officials.

Livni cancelled the visit two weeks before the event was due to take place.

Israeli media reported on Monday that Livni had called off the trip fearing that she would be arrested after a pro-Palestinian group won a warrant for her arrest.

But Livni's office said in a statement after the reports that she had declined a request to attend the event in London due to a scheduling conflict and not because of fears of being arrested.

'Threat of prosecution'

The British foreign office issued a statement on Monday saying it was looking into the incident and its possible effect on the peace process.

"The UK is determined to do all it can to promote peace in the Middle East and to be a strategic partner of Israel," it said.

"To do this, Israel's leaders need to be able to come to the UK for talks with the British government. We are looking urgently at the implications of this case."


Bill Bowring, a professor of law at the University of London, said the threat of prosecution is making international travel increasingly difficult for Israeli officials.

"This has happened before. It's under quite old legislation, under the fourth Geneva Convention of 1949," he told Al Jazeera.

"Basically what it says is that if a person anywhere in the world commits grave breaches against civilians then that person should be arrested and prosecuted wherever they turn up in the world."

Israeli land, air and naval forces began bombarding the Gaza Strip last December, saying that it wanted to stop rocket attacks by Palestinian fighters.

A UN-sponsored report, known as the Goldstone report, has called on both Israel and the Palestinians to investigate accusations of human-rights violations committed during the conflict.

The report accuses both Israel and Hamas of war crimes, and was endorsed by the UN General Assembly last month by a margin of 114 to 18, after two days of debate.

Forty-four member-nations abstained from voting.

The report, which was compiled by a panel led by Richard Goldstone, a South African judge, had already been endorsed by the UN Human Rights Council, which sponsored the fact-finding commission.

Most of the criticism in the Goldstone report was directed towards Israel's conduct during the offensive, in which it concluded that Israel used disproportionate force, deliberately targeting Gaza civilians, using them as human shields, and destroying civilian infrastructure.

More 1,400 Palestinians were killed in the offensive, while 13 Israelis, including 10 soldiers, died over the same time period.

nestopwar

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Re: UK court 'issued warrant for Livni'
« Reply #1 on: December 18, 2009, 08:07:51 AM »
Arrest warrant for Tzipi Livni
This email is to advise you that an article matching one of your interests has been published: Arrest warrant for Tzipi Livni.

David Miliband has responded to news of the UK arrest warrant for former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, said that Israeli leaders, like leaders from other countries, "must be able to visit and have a proper dialogue with the British Government".

He said that the Government is "looking urgently at ways in which the UK system might bechanged in order to avoid this sort of situation arising again".

David Miliband said:

'Israel is a strategic partner and a close friend of the UK. We are determined to protect and develop these ties. Israeli leaders like leaders from other countries - must be able to visit and have a proper dialogue with the British Government.

The procedure by which arrest warrants can be sought and issued without any prior knowledge or advice by a prosecutor is an unusual feature of the system in England and Wales. The Government is looking urgently at ways in which the UK system might be changed in order to avoid this sort of situation arising again.'

Please click on the link to view the article: here 
 

nestopwar

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Re: UK court 'issued warrant for Livni'
« Reply #2 on: December 18, 2009, 10:56:44 PM »
The impunity of Israel and its allies will carry a price

Seumas Milne The Guardian, Thursday 17 December 2009

When evidence of war crimes is produced, you might expect states that claim to defend the rule of law to want those crimes investigated and the perpetrators held to account. Not a bit of it. The decision by a London judge to issue a warrant for the arrest of Israel's former foreign minister Tzipi Livni over evidence of serious breaches of the laws of war in Gaza has sparked official outrage in Britain.

The court's behaviour was "insufferable", foreign secretary David Miliband declared. The Times called it "repugnant". Gordon Brown yesterday assured Livni that action would be taken to ensure no such thing ever happens again.

As it turned out, Livni had cancelled her visit and the warrant was withdrawn. But for the British government, it seems, it isn't the compendious evidence of war crimes during the Gaza bloodletting including the killing of civilians waving white flags, the use of human shields and white phosphorus attacks on schools that is insufferable. It's the attempt to use the principle of universal jurisdiction Britain claims to uphold to bring to book the politicians who ordered the onslaught.

Of course, it would make more sense if Israel itself held an independent investigation into its soldiers' conduct in the Gaza war. That was what the UN's Goldstone report called for, on both sides failing which, other states should start their own investigations. Instead, Israel is demanding Britain change its laws without delay, and the British government is falling over itself to oblige.

No doubt both Britain and the US, with their own record of war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, fear that if universal jurisdiction is applied to Israel it could be catching. This was a principle that was apparently only intended to apply to countries that challenge western power or African states, not a "strategic partner" and "close friend", as Miliband described Israel this week.

But Israel's claim that it is being singled out doesn't stand up to scrutiny; on the contrary, it is trying to put itself beyond the reach of international law. Attempts to hold US or British leaders to account over the Iraq and Afghan wars have also been swatted away, but there have been official inquiries and convictions lower down the chain of command. In the case of this year's Gaza war, the only Israeli convicted has been a soldier for stealing a credit card.

Nor does the argument that peace negotiations will be undermined if some Israeli politicians are unable to travel abroad cut much ice. Government ministers have legal immunity, and are therefore unaffected. And a viable Middle East settlement no more depends on the travel arrangement of Israeli opposition figures than on those of Hamas leader Khalid Mish'al.

It does, however, depend on western states starting to apply common standards to both sides in the conflict. The conviction that no such move is in prospect is what has led supporters of the Palestinians' six decade-long struggle for justice to explore any and every way to fill the gap: hence last weekend's visit to the London courts.

It's not hard to see why they feel like that. A year on from the onslaught on Gaza which Livni described as Israel "going wild" nothing has changed. The rockets that were supposed to be the justification for Gaza's devastation have been virtually silent all year, as they were for much of the six months before the assault, policed by Hamas.

In fact, armed resistance throughout the occupied Palestinian territories has been minimal. So evidently that's not the block on achieving a just peace, as often claimed. But the barbaric siege of the Gaza strip continues unabated, backed by the US, Britain and the European Union, leaving 70% of Gazans living on less than a dollar a day, without clean water or the means to rebuild the 21,000 homes, 280 schools and 16 hospitals partially or completely destroyed last December and January.

That might be thought repugnant and insufferable. But far from encouraging the easing of the blockade to reward the ceasefire, the US has prevailed on Egypt to build a new wall on its border with Gaza to prevent the tunnel-smuggling that keeps Gazans from utter destitution.

Meanwhile, on the occupied West Bank, illegal Israeli land seizures and settlement building are proceeding apace, especially in Jerusalem. Barack Obama's peace initiative has already run into the sand. Having insisted on a complete freeze on settlements, his bluff was called by Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and the US is now trying to bamboozle the hapless Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas into swallowing Obama's failure.

At the same time, the US and EU are bankrolling, training and directing a Palestinian security apparatus which is systematically imprisoning without trial and torturing its political opponents, in collusion with Israel. Several hundred Hamas activists have been arrested in the last fortnight alone. It is widely understood that no genuine peace settlement can stick without Palestinian unity, but by requiring a crackdown on Hamas under the guise of fighting "terror", the US and Europe are making reconciliation impossible.

If, as expected, Israel releases hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Gilad Shalit, the captured Israeli soldier, the dynamic of Palestinian politics is likely to shift, probably in Hamas's favour. Confidence in further negotiations delivering real progress is at rock bottom. As one veteran Fatah leader and ostensible Abbas ally, Jibril Rajoub, told me: "If the Americans were serious, they would encourage national reconciliation. But they are not, they are making excuses."

If that continues, the Palestinians will have to "consider other options", Rajoub says, though he specifies he doesn't necessarily mean armed resistance. "But the occupation has to be made painful for the Israelis, they can't have occupation and security." That is far clearer for Hamas, which certainly won't maintain a ceasefire that is only answered with blockade and violent repression.

There is talk of another intifada if the present drift continues. As has been demonstrated this week, Israel is treated with impunity by its western allies, and neither is going to shift course unless the price gets significantly higher. There's no point in western handwringing when the next upheaval comes or crying foul if it spills over beyond the Middle East.
 

nestopwar

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Re: UK court 'issued warrant for Livni'
« Reply #3 on: December 24, 2009, 12:28:49 AM »
Do not Compromise Rule of Law for Political Expediency:MCB writes to Foreign Secretary on Tzipi Livni arrest
The Rt. Hon. David Miliband MP

Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

King Charles Street

London SW1A 2AH




23rd December 2009




Dear Mr Miliband,



I am writing to express the deep disappointment and grave concern of the Muslim Council of Britain (the MCB) at your views with regard to the warrant which a magistrate had lawfully issued for the arrest of the former Israeli foreign minister, Tzipi Livni for suspected war crimes. As is well known the arrest did not take place and the warrant was withdrawn.



It appears that following expression of strong disapproval and anger by the Israeli government and representations by the Jewish Leadership Council you have shown willingness to review and remove the powers of magistrates in the UK to issue warrants of arrest against alleged Israeli war criminals.



As you must surely know the cornerstone of our much cherished legal system is respect for the rule of law. The separation of powers and the independence of the judiciary flow from it. It seems to us that you are allowing political exigency to undermine and erode fundamental legal traditions and conventions which are centuries old and have served our society well.



Your motivation to review and reconsider the current process for bringing war criminals to justice if found within our jurisdiction is political as well as manifestly partisan. Law in our legal system is the same for all � friend or foe. Your proposed step will treat �political friends� differently and indeed more favourably than those who may face same allegations but for whom a different process will apply. This cannot be right and will give rise to well founded perception of double standards in law enforcement.



We note that in your commitment to review and revise the process for issue of warrants by courts you have taken account of and been persuaded by the legal opinion of David Pannick QC. It is quite interesting that you have not chosen to seek views of others before making the commitment. Whilst we respect the capacity and standing of David Pannick QC to give legal advice, we do not accept that he is the only person in the legal fraternity to have expertise on matters of this kind. The matter is inherently very sensitive and it is contaminated by a perception of bias in choosing to rely solely on him. Such a major and far-reaching change in legal policy and process should not, we contend, be undertaken without due public consultation. We regret to have to say that the process that the government appears to have chosen to follow on this issue is fundamentally flawed.



It is our considered view that the change contemplated by you is such that it not only undermines judicial independence but also makes a wholly unjustified departure from the centuries old legal traditions of our country. The office of Magistracy is centuries old and people who hold such office are chosen irrespective of their political or other background and solely on the basis that they have the ability to apply the law without fear or favour. An appraisal of how their power to enforce international law has been exercised when called upon to do so will demonstrate that they have done so with competence and fairness.



Your proposed change sends out a clear signal that the government wants the courts to be subservient to political considerations. After all, the Attorney General is a political appointee and holds office, strictly speaking, at the pleasure of the Prime Minister.



The change that you propose also has the serious potential of severely reducing respect for international law and the treaties that give international jurisdiction for the pursuit of alleged war criminals. Commission of war crimes is an international crime as is engagement in torture. It is the clearly expressed wish of the international community as articulated in international law that people suspected of such crimes should be tried wherever they are found. We believe that the change that you propose may exempt some accused from prosecution and this will have a gravely adverse impact on the reputation of our country both at home as well as abroad.


You appear to be committing the government to the path of selective compliance with the enforcement of international law. This is surely not in the best interests of our country as it will add a further dimension to the double standards that our government is seen to have in relation to the politics of the Middle East.



Whilst we respect your quest to advance the prospects for peace in the Middle East, justice and fairness is not served by being or by being seen to be partisan and compliant to demands made by one major player in the conflict.



May we respectfully remind you that in your address at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies in May this year on �Building coalitions, winning consent�, you said, �To broaden the coalition and win consent, we need to understand the Muslim world better, or we will risk undermining the force of our own argument... we need to hold fast to our own values and support those who seek to apply them, or we will be guilty of hypocrisy...'.



It is hard to imagine how we could escape the charge of hypocrisy from those all too eager to point out our vacillation on allowing the law to take its course in the case of those suspected of committing war crimes.



We suggest that to understand the Muslim world better is to be aware of the deeply held view that our approach to states in the region is unequal and that our commitment to the observance of international law is ambivalent. Any change to the current procedures on universal jurisdiction and the right of magistrates to issue a warrant will only reinforce this view, with detrimental consequences.



The Prevent programme and your own department�s involvement in it through the �Bringing Foreign Policy Back Home� project is built on the foundations of respecting the rule of law and the pillars of a democratic society. In deliberating over the recent controversy and prevaricating on upholding the rule of law, we run the risk of strengthening the claims of those who reject our democratic processes and view our commitment to law, domestic and international, as utilitarian and malleable.



We urge you to consider the grave consequences of interfering with established legal procedures and jeopardising our reputation at home and abroad.



I am copying this letter to the Minister for Justice, the Right Honourable Lord Chancellor and the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government as your expressed views on this matter impact on their areas responsibilities in the government.





Yours sincerely,







Muhammad Abdul Bari

Secretary General