Livni visits U.K. for first time after war crimes jurisdiction amended
Opposition leader meets U.K. Foreign Secretary Hague following Britain decision to prevent private citizens from seeking arrest warrants against Israeli officials in U.K.; warrant issued against Livni in 2009, forcing her to cancel visit at the time.
Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni met with British Foreign Secretary William Hague in London on Thursday morning, in her first visit to the U.K. since 2009 when an arrest warrant was issued against her over her role in Operation Cast Lead.
Livni was invited to the meeting by Hague following an amendment to British law that prevents private citizens from seeking arrest warrants against Israeli officials in Great Britain.
The U.K. tightened its law on universal jurisdiction, a principle that allows British courts to prosecute foreigners accused of crimes against humanity, wherever they were committed.
Previously, anyone in Britain could apply to a judge for such a warrant, but after a change last month it requires the approval of the government's chief prosecutor.
In 2009, pro-Palestinian activist groups sought an arrest warrant against Livni over her role in Operation Cast Lead at the time that she was serving as Foreign Minister. The court that issued the arrest warrant for Livni annulled it upon discovering she was not in Britain at the time. Livni had in fact canceled a planned visit to the U.K. upon learning she could be arrested.
Livni told Hague during their meeting that she believed Britain has done the right thing,morally and legally, in amending the law.
“This is not a personal issue, but something which has darkened relations between the two countries for years, and Britain has done a good thing by putting an end to the matter,” Livni said.
“Great Britain and Israel are both countries that are fighting against terrorism , and as such, they have to differentiate between soldiers who are acting to defense themselves and ordinary citizens, and war criminals, such as terrorists, who harm out of malice,” the Israeli opposition leader added.
Livni added that she hoped that her visit to London would “ensure that Israel Defense Forces soldiers and officers will be able to travel to the kingdom and strengthen ties between the two nations.”