Israeli politician given immunity by UK for war crimes

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni given temporary immunity by UK foreign office

Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni given temporary immunity by UK foreign office

LONDON – Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni is visiting the U.K. on Thursday, after the U.K. government granted her temporary immunity from prosecution for alleged war crimes in Gaza. 

Livni was granted "Special Mission" status for a visit which includes a meeting with Foreign Office officials and a speech at a Jewish National Fund event on Thursday night. The purpose of the Jewish National Fund meeting has not been revealed and the organizers would not reveal any information about its location. 

Pro-Palestinian groups are expected to demonstrate outside the event, which will be held at a Central London hotel. 

“Since the visit meets all the essential elements for a special mission, and for avoidance of any doubt on the matter, the FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth office) has confirmed consent to the visit as a Special Mission,” a U.K. foreign office spokesperson said on Tuesday. 

Livni played a prominent role as a member of the Israeli war cabinet during Operation Cast Lead, when Israel carried out air strikes and ground incursions into the Gaza Strip in 2008. Over 1,400 people were killed, including women and children, during the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip. 

Livni cancelled a 2009 visit to the U.K. after a magistrates court issued an arrest warrant but the current prime minister David Cameron, then opposition leader, said he would change legislation to protect Israeli politicians from prosecution during visits to the U.K. 

Law firm Hikman and Rose had been attempting to get a warrant. The lawyers were acting on behalf of a relative of a Palestinian killed by the Israeli bombing. 

Raji Sourani, Director of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights said: “As the lawyers for the victims of widespread suspected Israeli war crimes, PCHR are very concerned that these kind of political acts endorse the ‘rule of the jungle’ rather than the ‘rule of law’. The stated policy of “ending impunity for international crimes” can only be properly pursued if the rule of law and due process is allowed to prevail, rather than Britain giving a safe haven to suspected war criminals, even for a few hours.”

A Crown Prosecution Service spokesperson said that they had been informed of Livni's "Special Mission" status and would not be able to accept any applications for her arrest.

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