Ex-Israeli Foreign Minister In UK Police Summons Claim To Question Her Over Gaza Operation

Hundreds of demonstrators protest against Tzipi Livni’s visit to London and call for her to be prosecuted for war crimes in London, United Kingdom on May 15, 2014, Former foreign minister MK Tzipi Livni said on Monday that a British war crimes investigator sought to question her during a trip to Britain over her role in the 2008-2009 Operation Cast Lead in Gaza that led to around 1,400 Palestinian deaths., according to Anadolu Agency.

A former Israeli foreign minister said Sunday that she was summoned for questioning by British police over alleged war crimes committed in Gaza.

Livni arrived in London on Saturday night to attend a conference of the Jewish community in the city, The police request, which Livni dubbed “unacceptable,” defined the questioning as non-mandatory, and she did not comply.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry said it views the British request “with great concern” and would “engage” with British authorities until the matter is resolved. Britain’s Foreign Office, the Metropolitan Police in London and Scotland Yard declined comment.

The Haaretz newspaper in Israel, which organized a London conference Livni addressed on Sunday, said she was contacted by police on Thursday but the summons was cancelled following discussions between Israel and the U.K.

“The British legal system is being abused,” she told the conference, according to the newspaper. She added that Israeli politicians and military figures were being “forced to participate in a theater of the absurd” during visits to the U.K. Her comments are thought to relate to overseas legal threats against Israeli figures involved in military decision-making.

The law strained UK-Israeli relations, as senior Israeli officials canceled trips rather than face possible arrest in Britain. In 2009, an arrest warrant was issued in Britain against Livni, and Israel’s Foreign Ministry said the warrant was later canceled, after officials learned Livni was not on British soil.

Previously, anyone in Britain could apply to a judge for such warrants. But the law was amended in 2011 to make such arrest warrants harder to pursue. That year, Britain’s chief prosecutor blocked an attempt to serve Livni with an arrest warrant during a visit to Britain.

British officials extend diplomatic immunity to Israeli officials to shield them from such arrests.

However, Livni said she declined immunity for her current trip to Britain on principle. She said she wanted to test what British authorities would do in cases of Israelis who are not eligible for diplomatic immunity but who could be pursued for alleged war crimes.

“Israeli army commanders and Israeli decision makers who are threatened with arrest warrants each time they arrive in London — this is an absurd sight that is unacceptable and must stop,” Livni wrote on Facebook.
“Just as we respect and admire Britain’s actions against international terror and Israel is open for any British minister to visit, without questions about his decisions in the cabinet, such is how Israel expects from Britain,” she added.
Livni was deputy prime minister and foreign minister during Operation Cast Lead, which saw Israel launched airstrikes and a ground invasion in Gaza following rocket attacks on southern Israel. She is now a member of the Israeli parliament, or Knesset.

In a statement, the Israeli Foreign Ministry said it viewed the request by the Metropolitan Police “with great concern”.

A police spokesman told Anadolu Agency: “We do not confirm or deny who we may wish to speak to as part of any ongoing investigation. If you were to ask me if there is an ongoing investigation the answer is no.”