The British government’s policies on dealing with human rights abuses and having relations with the state of Israel appear to be in continued public disarray in the wake of the Tzipi Livni arrest warrant fiasco. Not content with the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary taking on penitents’ mantles and apologising to Ms. Livni for a British court having the gall to try to apply the law of the land, the government is sending its senior law officer to Israel next month. According to the Jewish Chronicle (Livni warrant will be last, insists Miliband, 18 December), “Attorney General Baroness Scotland is due to visit Israel in the first week of January where she is expected to make an announcement on the new British position”. This “new…position” refers to the Foreign Secretary’s apparent urge to change the law to protect Israelis accused of war crimes. The JC front page article by Martin Bright says that the paper “understands that [Foreign Secretary] David Miliband has been keen to push through a change in legislation for some time, but met resistance in Cabinet“.
MEMO contacted the Attorney General’s office for some clarification about the forthcoming trip to Israel and it was confirmed by the Press Officer that Baroness Scotland is indeed planning to go. However, although the Press Officer was “not prepared to discuss further details”, she did say, “No announcements will be made on universal jurisdiction”. Perhaps Mr. Miliband hasn’t got round to sharing his intentions with the Attorney General yet, preferring to brief his friends at the JC first; or maybe he’s bluffing to buy himself some time. Either way, someone is not being totally honest.