November 10, 2010
LibDem leaders know perfectly well that under 'universal jurisdiction' all states that are party to the Geneva Conventions are obliged to seek out and prosecute or extradite those suspected of grave breaches of the Conventions and bring them justice, regardless of nationality.
"Grave breaches" means willful killing, torture or inhuman treatment, causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health, and other serious violations of the laws of war… the sort of atrocities that have been (and still are) committed wholesale by Israelis against civilians in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, East Jerusalem and on the high seas.
In other words, for these vilest of criminals there should be no hiding place.
The British Government shirks its solemn duty. Fortunately the law at present allows private applications for arrest warrants.
However, your Coalition partners the Conservatives, 80 percent of whom are claimed to be signed-up Friends of Israel, plan to interfere with our laws of arrest in order to protect those criminals they count among their friends. Apparently this will be done by ensuring that arrests for war crimes become strictly political decisions enabling the government of the day to pick’n’choose.
Foreign secretary William Hague, a Friend of Israel since his schooldays, recently told the pro-Israel lobby: "We have had good discussions with Israeli ministers on universal jurisdiction where the last government left us with an appalling situation where a politician like Mrs Livni could be threatened with arrest on coming to the UK... We have agreed in the coalition about putting it right, we will put it right through legislation that will be introduced… I phoned Mrs Livni amongst others to tell her about that and received a very warm welcome for our proposals."
You, the Liberal Democrats, have already agreed to this???
Has everyone forgotten that Tzipi Livni, Israel’s former foreign minister, was largely responsible for the terror that brought mega-deaths and unimaginable destruction to Gaza's civilians nearly 2 years ago?
Showing no remorse for the 1,400 dead (including 320 children and 109 women), the thousands horribly maimed and the hundreds of thousand made homeless, Livni’s office issued a statement saying she was proud of Operation Cast Lead, the murderous blitz she unleashed. Later at a conference in Tel Aviv she declared: "I would today take the same decisions."
Many of you will recall how Israel violated the Egypt-brokered ceasefire to provoke a response that could then be used as an excuse to launch the onslaught Israel had been preparing for months.
You may also recall that in 2007 when Israel tightened the siege on Gaza, the prime minister’s adviser, Dov Weisglass, said "the idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger". Documents just released under a Freedom of Information petition by Gisha, an Israeli law centre, reveal that Israel operated "a policy of deliberate reduction" of basic goods in the Gaza Strip.
The papers confirm that the siege was not for security reasons but to keep Gazans at near-starvation level in order to bring down Hamas, the people’s choice. Since around half the population are growing children this inhuman act of collective punishment has meant that hundreds of thousands of youngsters are undernourished and permanently damaged.
Gisha’s director accuses Israel of "paralyzing normal life in Gaza", and adds: "I am sorry to say that major elements of this policy are still in place."
Israel's current foreign minister, ex-bouncer Avigdor Lieberman, is a convicted child-beater and has been variously described as "a virulent racist" and "a certified gangster". He directly violates international law by living in one of Israel’s illegal settlements. "If you liked Mussolini, if you were missing Stalin, you'll love Lieberman," a member of Israel’s Meretz party observed.
All the same, Hague wants him freely walking the streets of London with Livni and the rest of the world’s psychopaths.
Whatever happened to the Liberal Democrats’ pledge to "reject all prejudice and discrimination based upon race, colour, religion, etc..." and to "fight poverty, oppression, hunger, ignorance, disease and aggression wherever they occur and to promote the free movement of ideas, people, goods and services". These fine promises are incorporated into the party’s Constitution.
Only last year Nick Clegg, LibDem leader and now deputy prime minister in the Coalition, was telling the Jewish Chronicle: "The very suggestion that I might explicitly or tacitly give cover for racism, I find politically abhorrent and personally deeply offensive."
Who would have believed that any senior Liberal Democrat would support a move to undermine our justice system in order to make the UK a safe haven for blood-soaked foreign leaders whose policies and unspeakable crimes are alien to LibDem principles, disgusting to the British public and condemned by international law?
If we allow the warmongers to come and go as they please, civilized people will never be able to take back their world.
We read that Hague was sent away from Tel Aviv with a slap in the face the other day when the Israelis without warning suspended dialogue with Britain. As if that wasn't embarrassment enough for such an ardent admirer, Hague now intends to humiliate us all by groveling and tinkering with British law to appease them.
If Parliament passes measures to undermine the important principle enshrined in the Geneva Conventions and weaken the law to enable those wanted for crimes against humanity to evade arrest, wouldn’t that make the whole British nation an accessory to those crimes?
And please reflect on how nodding it through would be just about the lowest thing anyone could do.
10 November 2010
Stuart Littlewood is author of the book Radio Free Palestine, which tells the plight of the Palestinians under occupation. For further information please visit www.radiofreepalestine.co.uk