Monday, December 14, 2009

Arrest Warrant Against Livni a Positive Step


The decision of a British court over the weekend to issue an arrest warrant against former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni in connection with her involvement in war crimes and crimes against humanity as a member of the War Council during Israel's operations in Gaza earlier this year represents a positive step even though the warrant was later canceled. The London court ordered Livni's arrest after it mistakenly believed the Israeli war criminal entered British territory, but was forced to annul it after it was revealed she had scrapped a planned appearance in the country. That means Livni avoided fugitive status only because of a legal technicality and not political pressure on the judiciary.

This is the third time this year an Israeli official involved in massacres in the Gaza Strip has encountered legal difficulties while attempting to travel to the United Kingdom, but it represents the first arrest warrant issued against an Israeli minister. Earlier this year a court blocked an attempt to arrest Defense Minister Ehud Barak, claiming he enjoyed diplomatic immunity. Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya'alon declined an invitation to speak in Britain in October after being warned he could face arrest in connection with a 2002 missile attack in Gaza which killed a quadriplegic Hamas official and fourteen civilians.

Even if judicial proceedings in countries with favorable relations to Israel do not lead to arrests or conviction they provide a valuable deterrent to future crimes. They also offer a de facto travel ban, which serves to isolate those who engage in crimes. Israel already regard Britain and South Africa as particularly problematic countries and has assembled teams of lawyers in the event that a senior official ends up in the docks answering war crimes charges. It has already reportedly advised some individuals against traveling to certain countries. Even if the Israeli government has no qualms in slaughtering civilians it is beginning to realize that there is a price for actions incompatible with civilized opinion.

5 comments:

Don Emmerich Jr. said...

Yes, I was very happy to read about this in Ha'aretz. Actually, I was more shocked than anything else. Good for that British judge -- we need more like him.

Young Activist said...

This was very embarassing for the Britsh government though, I am somewhat concerned that it will cause the U.K to roll back it's universal jurisdiction laws much as Spain has been considering.

john said...

i like it!! we need more of it.

Julia Riber Pitt said...

Someone in the US needs to have the balls to charge Livni, Barak, Olmert, and all the other Israeli war criminals with war crimes. Heck, someone here needs to charge Dubya with war crimes since the invasion of Iraq (as well as the invasion of Afghanistan) is 100% illegal under the Geneva Convention. The warrant for Livni was a definite step in the right direction.

Young Activist said...

Activists were able to secure a warrant in Britain because courts are (or were, apparently this case lead to some changes) empowered to act without the petition of a government official.  Of course, prosecution in the U.S requires action by the Justice Department, if the U.S ever had the political will to follow its own laws regarding treaty agreements concerning war crimes, and a host of other issues, there would be no need for arrest warrants for Israeli or American officials.  There would only be a need for one word from the President.  STOP! and that would be enough, in these cases.