February 5, 2010
Tzipi Livni, Israel’s opposition leader and former foreign minister, is planning to visit London to test the process by which Britain issues arrest warrants for alleged war crimes.In December Mrs Livni cancelled a trip to Britain after Westminster magistrates’ court issued a warrant seeking her arrest in connection with alleged war crimes relating to Israel’s Gaza offensive. Hamas, the Palestinian group which is considered a terrorist organisation by Britain, was believed to have helped British lawyers secure the arrest warrant against Mrs Livni. It sparked a diplomatic row and Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister, expressed his regret over the incident saying that Mrs Livni was “most welcome in Britain any time”. The British government also said it would look at universal jurisdiction legislation and review how warrants were issued. Yesterday Mrs Livni told the Jewish Chronicle: “I will do this not for me, not for provocation, but for the right of every Israeli to travel freely.” The British system was “being abused by extremists for political reasons,” she added. “My intention is not to stay in Israel for ever. I don’t think as a decision-maker, who made decisions against terror, that I should plan never to leave Israel. The British fight terror, too. They do not remain in Britain. They travel,” she said. The Israeli opposition leader said she was considering a number of invitations but did not confirm when she would make the trip. The Foreign Office has said that there have been delays in agreeing to changes to universal jurisdiction legislation which was initially given a deadline of February 23. About 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were reportedly killed Israeli’s three week Gaza offensive launched in December 2008. A UN report accused both sides of committing war crimes during the conflict.