When news was released about the proposed visit of the Attorney General to Israel, MEMO contacted her office and was given an assurance by the Press Officer that she would not be making any announcement about universal jurisdiction. Baroness Scotland has duly gone to Israel and made a speech about… universal jurisdiction. For some reason known only to the government, Israeli politicians "should not face arrest for war crimes" and should be free to travel to Britain regardless of the evidence that suggests their guilt of criminal acts.
The United Kingdom has an obligation under the Geneva Conventions to apprehend anyone suspected of war crimes, no matter where those crimes are alleged to have taken place. The government, as was hinted by Foreign Secretary David Miliband to the Jewish Chronicle last month, wants to make sure that Israelis are exempt from the laws that apply to everyone else.
Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister claims that attempts to apply the law of universal jurisdiction is "exploitation of legal channels and tools" by "organisations that are hostile to Israel". This is, of course, utter nonsense. You don't have to be "hostile" to anyone in order to want to see the law applied equably and alleged criminals brought to account.
"This is a case of being pro-justice, not anti any particular country," said Dr. Daud Abdullah, Director of MEMO. "Israel has at its disposal the means to ensure that none of its leaders or military officers face warrants for their arrest anywhere; it's simple, end the occupation and colonisation of Palestine."
This latest action by the Attorney General undermines the whole basis of equality under and before the law. It will be interesting to see how the Labour Government, in an election year, seeks to create such a favourable bias towards a foreign state that has broken international law and conventions on more occasions that any other country in the world.