Israeli dares to visit UK following immunity law

Changes to law allow israeli officials to visit Britain
Changes to law allow israeli officials to visit Britain

By politics.co.uk staff reporter

A prominent Israeli politician will visit the UK this week after being offered additional protections against war crimes charges.

Ex-Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni's last visit to the UK in 2009 was hastily cancelled when it emerged a court in Westminster had issued a warrant for her arrest based on her role in Operation Cast Lead, an Israeli offensive launched against militants in the Gaza strip in December 2008.

Lawyers representing Palestinian victims of Israel's operations in Gaza during that time requested the warrant under universal jurisdiction legislation, which allows international governments to pursue war criminals.


However, the Israeli government described the move as "cynical" and argued the warrant was issued on political rather than criminal grounds.

The visit from Ms Livni, who is now the leader of the opposition in Israel, was announced at a Conservative Friends of Israel meeting last night.

The law itself will be amended in the police reform and social responsibility bill.

The new bill, which was given Royal Assent last week, gives the director of public prosecutions the power to veto any arrest warrant issued.

Some have accused the government of succumbing to political pressure from Israel, but government ministers believe the UK's inability to invite Israeli figures had become a diplomatic embarrassment.

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