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Tzipi Livni scoffs at Tory pledge to end threat of arrest for Israel officials
02-20-2010, 02:08 PM,
Tzipi Livni scoffs at Tory pledge to end threat of arrest for Israel officials
Quote:Tzipi Livni, leader of the Israeli opposition, responded with notable coolness when she was paid a visit by Edward Garnier, the shadow attorney general, this week.

Mr Garnier relayed a promise from David Cameron, the Conservative leader, that legislation to guarantee immunity for visiting Israeli officials would be one of his government's top priorities following a general election expected in May.

"I've been asked officially to relay to you on behalf of the Conservatives that immediately after we are elected, we will handle this matter, end this affair and make it possible for you to go to Great Britain," Mr Garnier told Mrs Livni, according to Israel's Yediot Ahronot newspaper.

A Westminster magistrate's court last December granted an application by pro-Palestinian groups to issue an arrest warrant for Mrs Livni over war crimes allegedly committed during Israel's Gaza offensive a year ago when she visited. At the time of Israel's military operation, Mrs Livni was foreign minister.

But if Mr Garnier expected gratitude from the Israeli opposition leader, he was to come away disappointed.

She told her guest she would only believe such promises once they were fulfilled, noting that previous pledges had been made to remove the right of British courts to act against foreign officials under the principles of universal jurisdiction,

"I was given a personal commitment when I was foreign minister, and also as opposition chairman, that the matter would be rectified," she said. "That hasn't happened yet. I appreciate your words, but am waiting for acts."

A spokesman for the Conservative party confirmed that Mr Garnier had conveyed a pledge to solve the issue to Mrs Livni, but declined to comment on her response.

David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, condemned the arrest warrant, which was withdrawn when it transpired that Mrs Livni was not in Britain, and promised legislative changes to ensure there was no repeat, although a bill is unlikely to be put before parliament until after the election.

Israel reacted with outrage to the arrest warrant, calling it "unacceptable". Both the Israeli government and Mrs Livni herself demanded that Britain take immediate steps to change its laws.

It is unclear whether revelations that British passports were used in the assassination of a Hamas commander in Dubai last month will have any impact on Britain's willingness to accommodate Israel's demands.
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