British Police Summoned Tzipi Livni Over Suspected Gaza War Crimes

LONDON – Former Foreign Minister MK Tzipi Livni (Zionist Union) received a letter from the British police last Thursday, with an unprecedented summons for questioning regarding a suspicion of involvement in war crimes during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza in 2008.

Livni is currently in London to attend Israel Conference.

The summons was cancelled after diplomatic contacts between Israel and Britain, at the end of which Livni received immunity.

A senior official in Jerusalem, who requested anonymity due to the diplomatic sensitivity of the affair, said that on Thursday the Israeli Embassy in London received a letter from the Scotland Yard’s war crimes unit, which it was asked to deliver to Livni.

The letter noted that the British police was aware that Livni is expected to arrive in London during the weekend and therefore is requested to go to the police station for questioning.

The questioning was meant to discuss Livni’s involvement in committing war crimes and violations of the Geneva Convention, as the foreign minister and vice prime minister, and as a member of the diplomatic-security cabinet during the 2008 Cast Lead operation in Gaza.

In recent years pro-Palestinian organizations have filed a series of complaints against senior Israeli officials, including Livni, regarding the operation. The file against Livni is at a very advanced stage.

The letter was received two days before Livni’s planned visit to London to participate in a conference organized by Haaretz and the Jewish community there.

The senior official said the letter stressed the fact that the questioning was “on a voluntary basis” and by consent only, and was designed to receive information and clarifications from Livni regarding the suspicions against her.

The letter containing the invitation for questioning was highly irregular and in fact unprecedented.

After receipt of the letter urgent contacts began between the Israeli Embassy in Britain and the Justice Ministry and Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, in an attempt to find a solution to the issue.

The senior official noted that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was kept informed of the details, as were Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked and Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit.

At a certain point contacts also began with the British government, for fear that Livni would be arrested upon her arrival in London or during her stay there, despite the fact that Scotland Yard stressed that this was not a summons to an investigation under caution, for which attendance is obligatory.

After the diplomatic contacts it was agreed with the British Foreign Ministry that a meeting would be arranged for Livni with the minister in charge of Middle Eastern affairs, and that Livni’s visit to London would acquire the status of a “special diplomatic assignment,” which would automatically grant her immunity from arrest and prosecution.

At the same time, the Israeli Embassy in Britain informed Scotland Yard that Livni would not be coming in for questioning.

2 replies
  1. Joe Levin
    Joe Levin says:

    Israel on Sunday condemned a request from British police to interview ex-Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, reportedly over suspicions of war crimes in the 2008-2009 Gaza conflict.

    Israel’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it viewed the request “with great concern”.

    “We would have expected different behavior from a close ally such as the UK,” it said in a statement.

    The reaction came after Haaretz reported that Livni had received a request last week for an interview from Scotland Yard’s war crimes unit ahead of her visit to London for a conference.

    The interview was said to be related to the 2008-2009 Operation Cast Lead, during which time Livni was Foreign Minister.

    The request was canceled after diplomatic contacts between Israel and Britain, Haaretz reported.

    Livni, currently an opposition member of the Knesset, has also been granted special diplomatic immunity in response, it said.

    The interview was to be on a voluntary basis, the newspaper reported.

    Contacted by AFP, Scotland Yard refused to confirm or deny the identities of people they have been seeking to question, while Livni’s spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

    In 2009, a British court issued an arrest warrant for Livni after Palestinian activists made an application over her role as Foreign Minister during the conflict.

    Britain sought to soothe strained ties with Israel the following year by publishing an amendment to a law that put visiting officials at risk of arrest for alleged war crimes.

    The change was to ensure that private arrest warrants for offenses under certain international laws, including the Geneva Convention, would first have to be approved by the chief prosecutor.

  2. Joe Levin
    Joe Levin says:

    Ron Prosor, ex-Ambassador of Israel to the UN and to Britain, commented Monday morning with Rosie Barkai on MK Tzipi Livni’s summons by the British police. Livni was called in for questioning over possible “war crimes” in Operation Cast Lead after she landed in London yesterday, in an act Prosor labels “national terrorism.”

    “Democracies need to protect themselves, but what happened here is exactly the opposite – they are continuing to use national terror on the State of Israel and her leaders,” explained Prosor, “Hard work is needed in order to change this universal rule, and create a situation where not every complaint leads to an order of arrest.”

    After she was summoned for questioning over supposed ‘war crimes’, an indignant Livni declared in an interview with Army Radio that “Britain has to change its policies.” She added: “It is preposterous to suppose that I would give explanations on decision-making in the Israeli cabinet to the British police. They need to change their protocols; it’s not logical and it’s not acceptable to behave this way.”

    The Foreign Ministry last night attacked the actions of Britain: “We expected better behavior from such a close ally as Britain. Israel will act to protect her citizens from legal exploitation”.

    Livni’s summons were cancelled after Israel intervened.

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply