Israel to Britain: Watch your legal system


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s Foreign Ministry called on the British government to stop allowing its legal system to be hijacked for political means.

The call Tuesday came a day after reports that a British court had issued an arrest warrant for opposition leader Tzipi Livni for war crimes at the request of pro-Palestinian activists. The warrant was canceled later when it became clear that Livni had not entered the United Kingdom.

"Israel calls on the British government to fulfill its promises, once and for all, to act in preventing the exploitation of the British legal system by anti-Israel elements against the State of Israel and its citizens," said a statement released Tuesday by the Foreign Ministry. "The absence of immediate, determined action to correct this abuse harms relations between Britain and Israel.

"If Israeli leaders cannot visit Britain in proper, dignified fashion, this will, quite naturally, seriously compromise Britain’s ability to play the active role in the Middle East peace process that it desires."

The warrant sought Livni’s arrest on suspicion of war crimes committed during Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s military offensive in Gaza last winter, according to diplomatic sources in London. 

Livni had been invited to an event Dec. 13 in north London organized by the Jewish National Fund, then was to hold meetings with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and other government officials.

According to the Israeli Embassy in London, Livni had canceled her visit two weeks before the event due to scheduling problems, and not just days before the event because of the threat of a warrant.

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