Miliband Voices Shock Over Arrest Warrant On Livni


british-foreign-secretary-david-milibandBritish Foreign Secretary David Miliband today called Tzipi Livni to express his shock over an arrest warrant issued against her in Britain for alleged war crimes in Gaza and vowed to address the matter¬†immediately.Livni clarified that she doesn’t view the arrest warrant as a personal offense, but rather one that affects Israel as a whole. She added that it also harms efforts to operate jointly against threatening elements.

Livni stressed that Israel and Britain must work to solve the problem according to agreements outlined when she was foreign minister.

Miliband earlier today denounced the arrest warrant issued for Livni as insufferable, after Israel warned that the matter could harm bilateral ties.

Miliband made the comments during a meeting with Israel’s ambassador to Court of St. James, Ron Prosor. The Israeli envoy asked to discuss the matter with Miliband on Monday, following news that Livni had canceled her trip to Britain after a warrant was issued for her arrest.

Prosor told Miliband that the British government must work immediately to combat the grave phenomenon of arrest warrants being issued against senior Israeli officials.

The foreign secretary said he had spoken with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and with Secretary of State for Justice Jack Straw in order to try to resolve the problem.

Miliband called Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman today and expressed concern over the arrest warrant, saying he and other British parliamentarians found it unacceptable. Miliband also planned to call Livni.

He told Lieberman that solutions must be found in order to prevent this situation from repeating itself in the future.

Lieberman expressed disappointment over Britain’s abstention during the United Nations vote on the Goldstone report, which accuses Israel and Hamas of committing war crimes in Gaza, and the Swedish proposal to recognize Jerusalem as a shared Israeli and Palestinian capital.

Also today, the Foreign Ministry summoned the British envoy to Israel to rebuke him over the warrant.

Israel views the arrest warrant with utmost gravity, Naor Gilon, deputy director at the Foreign Ministry in charge of Western Europe, told British ambassador Tom Phillips.

Gilon also called on Phillips to urge his government to change the law that allows for arrest warrants to be issued against senior Israeli officials over alleged war crimes perpetrated in Gaza during the winter conflict between Israel and Hamas.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu today issued a statement saying that Israel will not agree to have its leaders be recognized as war criminals.

“We will not agree to a situation in which Ehud Olmert, Ehud Barak and Tzipi Livni will be summoned to the defendant’s bench,” Netanyahu said.

“We will not agree that IDF commanders and soldiers, who – heroically and in a moral fashion – defended our citizens against a brutal and criminal enemy, will be condemned as war criminals. We reject this absurdity outright.”

Netanyahu instructed National Security Adviser Prof. Uzi Arad to deliver a clear message on this issue to British envoy Phillips.

Dr. Arad spoke with Ambassador Phillips and made it clear to him that Israel expects the British government to act against this immoral phenomenon, which is trying to impair Israel’s right to self-defense.

A statement from the British embassy in Israel said the U.K. is determined to work for peace in the Middle East and to be a strategic partner to Israel.

“To do this, Israel’s leaders need to be able to come to the U.K. for talks with the British government. We are looking urgently at the implications of this case.” The embassy statement said.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry earlier today called on the British government to end the “absurd situation” in which arrest warrants were being issued to Israeli officials over alleged war crimes in Gaza, warning that ties between the two countries could suffer as a result.

“Only actions can put an end to this absurd situation, which would have seemed a comedy of errors were it not so serious,” said the Foreign Ministry.

{Yair Israel/Haaretz}