UK government

Israel doubts UK will overturn 'Livni law'

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 23, 2009

The Israeli government has little faith that Britain will, in the near future, change the laws that allow arrest warrants to be obtained for Israeli officials on the suspicion of war crimes. The government is now pinning its hopes on an international initiative to amend the laws of war.

Israel officially maintains that it is the responsibility of the British government to amend legislation that has put London out of bounds for many Israeli officers and politicians.

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Full legal opinion sent to government by the JLC

By Lord Pannick QC, Blackstone Chambers, December 17, 2009

1. I am asked to advise the Jewish Leadership Council concerning possible changes to the law to prevent a warrant for arrest alleging war crimes being issued by a Magistrate against Israeli politicians and senior military officials who visit this country.

The background

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Israel's settlements are legal

By Geoffrey Alderman, December 17, 2009

What role, if any, does the present UK government see for itself as a peacemaker in the Middle East? Does it see itself as an honest broker, or has it already taken sides? Some developments over the past fortnight — which build on the lesson we must learn from the UK government’s refusal to condemn or even criticise the Goldstone report — do I think enable us to answer these important questions.

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Interview: The UK's new Jewish ambassador to Israel

By Jenni Frazer, December 10, 2009

Britain has appointed its first Jewish ambassador to Israel. And Matthew Gould, a high-flying Foreign Office diplomat, is optimistic that his posting — to begin in autumn 2010 — will send out a significant message, both to his hosts and the UK Jewish community.

Mr Gould, 38, is currently Principal Private Secretary to Foreign Secretary David Miliband. Two of his predecessors as PPS to the foreign secretary of the day, Simon McDonald and Sherard Cowper-Coles, also went on to become British ambassador to Israel, so there is an established precedent.

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Race rant diplomat back at Foreign Office

By Leon Symons, December 3, 2009

A senior diplomat convicted of racially aggravated harassment for a foul-mouthed anti-Israeli rant in a gym has been given a new role at the Foreign Office.

Rowan Laxton, 48, the then head of the South Asia desk at the FO, was exercising in a gym when saw a television report during Israel’s action in Gaza and shouted “f------ Israelis, f------ Jews”.

Two men exercising elsewhere overheard him, complained to staff and Mr Laxton was arrested and charged subsequently. He was also suspended from his post at the FO.

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MP Andrew Dismore fights back over expenses

By Martin Bright, November 26, 2009

Labour’s Andrew Dismore, MP for Hendon in north-west London, has fought back against claims that he abused the parliamentary allowance system.

Speaking exclusively to the JC, Mr Dismore said he was the victim of a smear campaign targeting members of the Commons Standards and Privileges committee, on which he serves.

The Daily Telegraph claimed the Hendon MP claimed for 5,360 miles of car journeys (the equivalent of three return journeys a day). It is also alleged that Mr Dismore split £65,000 of second home allowances between two properties in London.

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Ex- ambassador criticises Jews on Iraq inquiry

By Jessica Elgot, November 23, 2009

The former British ambassador to Libya, Sir Oliver Miles, has criticised the appointment of two leading Jews to the Iraq inquiry.

Sir Oliver drew attention to the appointment of Holocaust historian and Winston Churchill biographer Sir Martin Gilbert, and the war historian and ‘Blair doctrine’ architect Sir Lawrence Freedman, who advocated humanitarian intervention in Kosovo and Afghanistan.

The two men will be made privy counsellors in order to sit on the inquiry committee.

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Dispatches Israel lobby film: The reaction

By Martin Bright, November 19, 2009

Jewish organisations have reacted angrily to a Channel 4 Dispatches documentary claiming to expose an “Israel lobby” working to buy influence with UK politicians and journalists. The Board of Deputies has raised concerns that the programme has already sparked a slew of antisemitism.

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UK, US critical of new home building in Jerusalem

By Jessica Elgot, November 18, 2009

The British and US governments and the United Nations have denounced plans approved by Israel to build 900 homes in Gilo, a neighbourhood in Jerusalem.

The building has been approved by the Israeli Interior Ministry has approved the expansion of the neighbourhood in south west Jerusalem.

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: "The Foreign Secretary has been very clear that a credible deal involves Jerusalem as a shared capital. Expanding settlements on occupied land in East Jerusalem makes that deal much harder. So this decision is wrong and we oppose it."

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New legal right for victims of Nazi looters

By Jessica Elgot, November 13, 2009

A new bill, which will allow art looted by the Nazis and found in British museums to be returned to its original owners, has passed into law today.

Labour’s Andrew Dismore, MP for Hendon, first sponsored the Holocaust (Stolen Art) Restitution Act, which has now been given Royal Assent.

He said: “It shows what could be achieved by a determined backbencher: by rolling out my sleeping bag and sleeping on the floor of the Public Bill Office overnight, I was able to become the first in the queue to apply for Second Readings after the balloted Bills, and this tactic paid off.

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