Israel calls for British action over reported arrest warrant issued against Livni

18:53, December 15, 2009      

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Israel on Tuesday called on the British government to take action over an arrest warrant which hasreportedly been issued by a British court against former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on charges of war crimes in the Gaza Strip.

"Israel calls on the British government to fulfill, once and for all, its promises and prevent an abuse of the British legal system against Israel and its citizens by anti-Israel elements," local news service Ynet quoted an Israeli Foreign Ministry statement as reporting.

"Lack of firm and immediate action aimed at repairing the situation will harm the relations between the two countries," warned the statement.

It said that "if Israeli leaders cannot visit Britain in a proper and honorable manner, this will naturally serve as a real obstacle to Britain's desire to take an active part in the peace process in the Middle East."

Regarding the reported British court decision to issue an arrest warrant against Livni, the statement said that "We reject the court's cynical legal move against Opposition Chairwoman Tzipi Livni, which was initiated by radical elements."

"Israel would like to note that both Israel and Britain are in the midst of a joint battle against global terror and that British soldiers are working to defeat it in many arenas in the world," added the statement.

On Monday, the British newspaper The Guardian reported that a warrant for Livni's arrest had been issued by the Westminster Magistrate's Court, but was rescinded when it was discovered that she was not in Britain.

The warrant was issued following a complaint by pro-Palestinian activists that the former Israeli foreign minister, who was scheduled to travel to Britain on Sunday but cancelled her trip at the last minute, had been responsible for war crimes during last winter's Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip.

Livni, however, appeared unfazed Tuesday by the reported arrest warrant issued against her.

"I have no problem with the world wanting to judge Israel," Ynet quoted her as speaking at an Institute for National Security Studies conference in Tel Aviv.

"A problem arises the moment Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers are compared to terrorists," she added.

The Kadima chairwoman said that "The operation in Gaza was necessary. Operation Cast Lead was meant to restore Israel's deterrence and did restore Israel's deterrence."

"Israel must do what is right for Israel, regardless of judgments, statements and arrest warrants. It's the leadership's duty, and I would repeat each and every decision," said Livni.

On Monday, the British Foreign Office issued a statement, attempting to clarify the incident to avoid harms to relations between Britain and Israel, according to Ynet.

"The UK is determined to do all it can to promote peace in the Middle East and to be a strategic partner of Israel. To do this, Israeli leaders need to be able to come to the UK for talks with the British government. We are looking urgently at the implications of this case," said the statement.

Source: Xinhua
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