Lawyers working with Palestinian activists are increasingly targeting senior Israeli civilian and military figures by seeking their arrest in Britain under the principle of "universal jurisdiction." This holds that alleged war criminals can be nabbed and charged anywhere, not just in a country directly involved in the crime.Do they do anything like this for terrorists from Fatah or Hamas who happen to engage in calls for Israel's destruction, exhort others to jihad or spur the ongoing violence against Israel?
Their latest target is Tzipi Livni, Israel's former foreign minister and current opposition leader, for her role during the bloody Israeli incursion into the Gaza Strip earlier this year.
She canceled her planned visit this month to London. The issuance of a warrant for her arrest, following earlier efforts to arrest Defense Minister Ehud Barak and other visitors, is curdling relations between Israel and Britain.
"It's about time for Britain to amend its law because, if this is possible, it will very severely damage the relations between the two countries," said Yehuda Blum, Israel's former ambassador to the United Nations. "The abuse and misuse of this concept of universal jurisdiction should be discontinued."
Blum, who teaches law at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said the law was intended for use in cases with no clear jurisdiction, such as piracy in international waters, and should not be expanded for political aims.
"Why not use this against Vladimir Putin over Russia's role in Chechnya?" he said. "There is no end to it. This has caused great consternation and dismay."
Israeli officials, acting under orders from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, told the British ambassador Tuesday they expect quick action to change the law. In London, chagrined British officials said they were seeking solutions.
After all, Operation Cast Lead was commenced but for the the thousands of rockets fired at Israel from Gaza by Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Had the rockets not been fired at Israel, Israel would not have had to engage in attacks to root out Palestinian terrorists who hid behind civilians and UN facilities, nor would they have had to close border crossings between Israel and Gaza. Terrorists have repeatedly attacked those crossings so as to induce Israel to close the facilities so that Israel can be blamed for restricting the flow of goods and services into Gaza; a thoroughly vile propaganda tactic.
Here, the Brits are willing to go after Israeli officials who were operating to protect Israeli civilians from further attacks - the thousands of rockets fired into Israel, and yet the British consider this criminal?