U.K. to Change Law in Wake of Warrants Against Israeli Officials

Move follows pro-Palestinian group's attempt to arrest MK Tzipi Livni in U.K. for alleged war crimes.

Danna Harman Haaretz Service
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Danna Harman Haaretz Service

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced on Thursday plans to stop politically-motivated campaign groups from securing arrest warrants for visiting foreign officials.

In a March 3 editorial in the Daily Telegraph, Brown wrote, "Britain will continue to take action to prosecute or extradite suspected war criminals - regardless of their status or power... But the process by which we take action must guarantee the best results. The only question for me is whether our purpose is best served by a process where an arrest warrant for the gravest crimes can be issued on the slightest of evidence."

Under the current system, British magistrates are obliged to consider an arrest warrant case presented by any individual. Gordon Brown said he will instead propose that only one government department, the Crown Prosecution Service, evaluate the merits of any case brought under international law.

This move follows an uproar last December when Kadima party leader Tzipi Livni canceled a trip to London because a pro-Palestinian group secured an arrest warrant for alleged crimes committed in Gaza. A statement from Livni's office praised the new changes proposed by Brown and said that "the British legal system has been abused by cynical elements in the United Kingdom."

"This is important news for every country in the Free World which is fighting terror," Livni said in the statement. "It sends out a vital message that when something correct must be done, the entire political establishment gets on board, even if this means going through the absurd situation of an arrest warrant being issued for me."

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