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:: Article nr. 61942 sent on 08-jan-2010 05:47 ECT
When Israel snaps its fingers British ministers jump
British foreign secretary David Miliband (R) meets with Israeli former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on November 16 2008 in Jerusalem, Israel.
January 7, 2010
While the Viva Palestina convoy drama was being played out, a delegation of senior Israeli military officers cancelled a planned visit to the UK for fear of being arrested over alleged war crimes in Gaza.
With the insufferable arrogance we have come to expect from Israelis, deputy foreign minister Danny Ayalon demanded from Britain's Attorney General, Baroness Scotland, an immediate solution to the "intolerable" situation.
"If the British law remains unchanged, this would undermine the good relations between the two countries who share common values and interests. The British must bear in mind that these visits serve both countries," Ayalon is reported as saying.
"This legislation is often misused," he added. "It initially targeted Nazi criminals, but terrorist organisations like Hamas are today using it to take democracies hostage. We have to put an end to this absurdity…"
That is typical Israeli 'crapaganda’. Britain does not share Israel’s racist and criminal values. In fact, we have nothing in common worth mentioning. And of course Hamas is no more a terrorist organization than the Israeli regime itself.
What is absurd is that murderous Israelis, with the stench of mega-deaths on them, expect to be let into the UK.
Last month, Tzipi Livni, now leader of Israel's main opposition party but foreign minister at the time of the blitzkrieg against Gaza, cancelled a visit to Britain after an arrest warrant was issued by a British court. An Israeli spokesperson said: "Only actions can put an end to this absurd situation, which would have seemed a comedy of errors were it not so serious."
The errors are all Livni’s. Her appalling crimes are not funny. Yet British prime minister Gordon Brown insists that she is welcome and says he’ll change the law that allows British courts to issue warrants for alleged war crimes suspects.
According to Baroness Scotland, speaking at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israeli leaders should not face arrest for war crimes under the law of universal jurisdiction. "The government is looking urgently at ways in which the UK system might be changed to avoid this situation arising again. Israel's leaders should always be able to travel freely to the UK."
And David Miliband, foreign secretary, says the British government is determined that arrest threats against visitors of Ms Livni's stature won’t happen again. "Israel is a strategic partner and a close friend of the United Kingdom. We are determined to protect and develop these ties. Israeli leaders - like leaders from other countries - must be able to visit and have a proper dialogue with the British government."
Livni, referring to the slaughter she oversaw in Gaza a year ago, had the gall to say: "I would make the same decisions all over again." So Miliband seems happy for even the vilest foreign criminals to walk the streets of our capital.
However, Livni is no longer a serving minister so why should even the most twisted minds in the British government consider rolling out the red carpet for her?
Israel itself was happy to use "universal jurisdiction" to try Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem in 1961. The principle, let us remember, is that there can be no hiding place for those accused of genocide, crimes against humanity, extrajudicial executions, war crimes, torture and forced disappearances.
But it seems Brown and Miliband will go to any lengths, even as far as dismantling our solemn obligations under international law, in order to protect their unsavoury friends. They need reminding that states which are party to the Geneva Conventions are obliged to seek out and either prosecute or extradite those suspected of having committed grave breaches of the Conventions: "Each High Contracting Party shall be under the obligation to search for persons alleged to have committed or to have ordered to be committed, such grave breaches, and shall bring such persons, regardless of their nationality, before its own courts…"
"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… all the atrocities committed by Israel in the Gaza Strip.
Instead of making Britain an even bigger laughing-stock, Brown, Miliband and Scotland should get busy and do their duty, not duck it. The British public’s message to Israel meanwhile is simple. If you must come here, make sure your hands are clean. War criminals are not welcome.
7 January 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
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