October 3, 2011
Opposition Chairwoman Tzipi Livni announced that she will travel to London next week, her first trip to the United Kingdom since it issued a warrant for her arrest in the aftermath of Operation Cast Lead.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague called Livni last week, on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, and invited her to visit the UK. On Sunday, she said that she has accepted the invitation.
The news came two weeks after British legislators amended the law that allowed arrest warrants to be issued against Israeli officials, making Livni’s trip possible.
British Ambassador to Israel Matthew Gould announced the alteration to the law last month, saying that it “will ensure that people cannot be detained when there is no realistic chance of prosecution.” He broke the news to Livni in a phone call, reportedly telling her that “London is waiting.”
The warrant for Livni was issued in December 2009 due to alleged war crimes committed during Operation Cast Lead, when she served as foreign minister.
The antiquated law previously prevented high ranking officials, including former GOC Southern Command Brigadier General Doron Almog and former Military Intelligence chief Brigadier General Aviv Kochavi, from entering the UK.
In fact, Almog was already on his flight to Britain when he found out that a Muslim organization filed a law suit against him due to “his military actions against the Palestinian people.” Then-Israeli Ambassador to the UK Zvi Hefetz informed Almog of the development, prompting him to board a flight back to Israel immediately upon his arrival in London. The incident took place in 2005.
This past May, Benjamin Netanyahu‘s military adviser Major General Yohanan Locker was prevented from accompanying the prime minister on his trip to the UK – also due to his involvement in the military operations early in 2009, when he served as IAF chief.
Earlier this year, former IDF spokesman Brigadier General Avraham Benayahu said that he traveled to the country under a false name due to the de-legitimatization campaign waged against Israel.