Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A new world order

Matthew Omolesky at the American Spectator explores the international ramifications of a recent arrest warrant issued by a British Magistrate court for Israeli opposition leader, Tzipi Livni:
The City of Westminster Magistrate's Court, located in a nondescript brick building on Horseferry Road, between Vincent Square and the River Thames in central London, has long been proud of its central role in British jurisprudence. Given its geographical proximity to New Scotland Yard, the presence of the Chief Magistrate of England and Wales within its utterly characterless walls, and its jurisdiction over matters of terrorism and extradition, the Magistrate's Court seems to relish high-profile cases and their attendant publicity. It was unsurprising, then, to learn that it was this court that on December 12 issued the now-infamous arrest warrant for Israel's opposition leader Tzipi Livni, based on war crimes allegations stemming from the Israeli Defense Force's 2008-9 "Operation Cast Lead" in Gaza.

Such an arrest warrant was far from unprecedented. As recently as September, pro-Palestinian lawyers sought to have Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak arrested, while military and security officials like Doron Almog, Moshe Yaalon, and Avi Dichter have likewise been forced to contend with similar warrants. To date, these warrants have either been quashed due to grants of diplomatic immunity to serving cabinet ministers (as was the case with the Barak warrant), or are revoked when former officials catch wind of the legal gambit and call off their planned visit. The "Livni Affair" falls into the latter camp; the Kadima party leader was obliged to cancel her appearance at the Jewish National Fund's Vision 2010 conference in Hendon, and two days later the warrant was abrogated. The diplomatic fallout was inevitable, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "completely reject[ing] this absurdity taking place in Britain," while Livni herself insisted that "what needs to be put on trial here is the abuse of the British legal system." British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Foreign Secretary David Miliband were quick to apologize to their Israeli counterparts (the judges having acted without the involvement of the attorney general), while certain British human rights groups and leftist newspapers could only lament that they had been denied the long-sought spectacle of a war crimes trial with an Israeli official in the defendant's chair. (snip)

Yet this storm could easily have been weathered, and the matter of the arrest warrant forgotten (just as the Barak and Almog warrants seem to have been), but for the revelation that the Islamist group Hamas had played a key role in the events that transpired in mid-December. On December 21, the Times of London reported that Diya al-Din Madhoun, a Hamas official, had been tasked with coordinating a legal campaign against Israeli ministers, with "all the political and military leaders of the occupation in our [Hamas'] sights." "We have provided a group of independent lawyers in Britain with documents, information and evidence concerning war crimes committed by Israeli political and military leaders, including Ms Livni," Madhoun helpfully elaborated. That "lawfare" is being waged on British soil came, we are told, entirely as a shock to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, which immediately issued a statement that the British policymakers were "looking urgently at ways in which the UK system might be changed in order to avoid this sort of situation arising again."
Long but worth the time.  Read the whole thing.

So the British government issues an arrest warrant for a political leader of an ally country on the basis of a complaint by a terrorist organization?  It's a good thing for Livni that Israel hasn't granted INTERPOL unlimited immunity the way President Obama did on December 16.  As recently as March of this year Iran asked INTERPOL to arrest Israeli officials for war crimes committed in last year's Gaza response (or offensive, as the MSM has labeled it)  in retaliation for Hamas rocket fire aimed at civilians in southern Israeli towns, which killed 17 Israelis.  But Britain?

I wonder if President Obama will object when Belgium and Spain renew efforts to arrest George Bush, General Tommy Franks and Donald Rumsfeld for war crimes?  His recent expansion of the power of INTERPOL begs the question.

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