On December 21st, the Israeli ambassador in London, Ron Prosor, wrote a commentary in the Daily Telegraph: "Restore Common Sense to Common Law". His comment came a week after a Westminster magistrate issued an arrest warrant for former foreign minister, Tzipi Livni. According to Mr. Proser, the treatment of Mrs Livni is an example of "lawfare", waged for the sole purpose of delegitmising the State of Israel and its leaders.
In what follows, Professor Manuel Hassassian, ambassador to the Palestinian people in London, replies to Mr. Proser's remarks and explains the importance of upholding universal jurisdiction. He highlights Justice Goldstone's findings as well as the double standards of Israel and the UK when it comes to bringing alleged Israeli war criminals to justice.
London December 22, 2009
Let us straighten the records
This is a response to an article published in the Daily Telegraph December 21st 2009 by Mr. Prosor the Israeli Ambassador to the U.K., in which he has claimed there is "an obsession to deligitimise and demonise the Jewish state" and referred to the "scandalous treatment of Mrs. Livni".
Mrs. Tsipi Livni was Israel's Foreign Minister during the planning and execution of "Cast Lead", when Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) killed in cold blood more than 1,400 and injured 5,000 Palestinians and wreaked carnage and destruction upon the 1.5 million Palestinians, living trapped under a brutal and illegal Israeli blockade.
Mr. Prosor claims that 'Livni faces an absurd campaign of harassment in the UK'. But article 146 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states that we are 'under the obligation to search for persons alleged to have committed, or to have ordered to be committed … grave breaches, and shall bring such persons, regardless of their nationality, before (British) courts'. Justice Goldstone presented findings to the UN that Israel committed war crimes in Gaza. Israel managed thus far to get away with its atrocious crimes through its slick diplomacy and the use of anti-Semitism as an excuse.
Bringing those responsible for war crimes to justice is not harassment, but an essential part of upholding the principles of international law and legitimacy.
If a judge believes that there is sufficient evidence of war crimes to issue an arrest warrant, it is vital they are able to do so independent of the government. By their very nature, the ability to arrest individuals who are suspected of having carried out war crimes anywhere in the world should they set foot on UK soil is indispensable in order to uphold international law. Pressure by the Israeli government, or any other government, should not be allowed to interfere in this judicial process. We hope that the UK government would not meddle with the due judicial process which has been exemplary in the world. The Palestinian people believe that the British government should reaffirm the principles of International Law and justice, and take action itself to ensure those responsible for war crimes are brought to justice.
Mr. Prosor also describes the treatment of Tzipi Livni as 'scandalous'. What is truly scandalous is that successive Israeli governments have violated international law, and committed war crimes, but have never been held responsible for their actions. Now is the time for the international community to implement Justice Goldstone's recommendations and bring war criminals eventually to justice.
Ambassador Prof. Manuel Hassassian
Palestinian General Delegation
5 Galena Road
London W6 0LT