October 6, 2011
Livni visits Britain after prosecution law amended
Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni has visited Britain for the first time since a law that allows for the prosecution of foreign officials for alleged war crimes was amended.
Livni arrived in London Thursday for the first time since a warrant for her arrest was issued in 2009 for her role in the Gaza war. Livni was Israel’s foreign minister during the month-long war in 2008-2009. She was forced to cancel the 2009 visit due to fears that she would be detained.
The law had caused strained relations between Israel and Britain after several Israeli officials either canceled or shortened visits to the country over fears of being arrested for their roles in the Second Lebanon and Gaza wars.
Under the new law, Britain’s director of public prosecutions must agree to issue an arrest warrant in universal jurisdiction cases in which the alleged crimes were committed outside of Britain. This means political considerations also will be taken into account. Previously, anyone in Britain could apply to a judge for an arrest warrant. The new law took effect Sept. 15.
Livni met with British Foreign Secretary William Hague, reportedly at his invitation, and praised Britain for 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, according to Haaretz.