Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni: fear of arrest would not stop me from visiting the UK

By Orlando Radice and Anshel Pfeffer, May 14, 2014
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Justice Minister Tzipi Livni (Photo: Flash 90)

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni (Photo: Flash 90)

EXCLUSIVE

Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni has said that the possibility of being arrested did not deter her from making her trip to the UK this week.

Ms Livni, who arrived in London on Wednesday to discuss the peace process with Foreign Secretary William Hague and address the JNF, was granted special immunity by the Foreign Office just before she was due to fly.

The Gaza-based Palestinian Centre for Human Rights sought to have the Crown Prosecution Service issue a warrant against Ms Livni over allegations of war crimes committed during Operation Cast Lead in 2008.

Ms Livni said: “I am a proud Israeli and I have no problem coming to the UK despite the arrest warrant. I would have come anyway, whether or not the UK government had not blocked the warrant.

“Ultimately, we share the same values and I trust the British system to recognise where the truth lies and not to play a part in the persecution of Israelis that is all too common in countries around the world.”

The Israeli government did not officially comment on Ms Livni’s legal status, but a diplomatic source said: “While the British government has changed the universal jurisdiction law making it more difficult for lawfare against Israelis, concern remains that officials can still issue an arrest warrant, and we have asked the government to change this.”

Ms Livni said that addressing questions on peace process was at the top of her agenda for her visit. She said: “The talks are not yet over despite the Palestinian unity deal, which was a key factor in pulling the two sides apart. As long as both sides at the table, the possibility to revive the process remains.”

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was due to meet US Secretary of State John Kerry in London on Thursday to discuss the US-Palestinian relationship, but sources denied there were any plans for Ms Livni to meet Mr Abbas.

A State Department spokeswoman said that the meeting between Mr Kerry and Mr Abbas would not focus on relaunching the talks. Both the Americans and the Palestinians are concerned that the Fatah-Hamas unity agreement could jeopardise US support for the PA.

Last updated: 3:33pm, May 15 2014