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Open Letter to Prime Minister Gordon Brown

April 19, 2014 at 11:40 am

Dear Prime Minister,

We are aware that the government has come under enormous pressure from groups campaigning to change British laws on universal jurisdiction to facilitate the unimpeded travel to Britain by Israeli officials accused of committing war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity. More specifically, Israel’s former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, whose role as a military planner in Operation Cast Lead provided prima facie evidence for her arrest and led to a warrant for her arrest being issued last December by Westminster Magistrates Court. In light of the cold-blooded murder of a Hamas official in the western-friendly state of Dubai last month by what is generally accepted to have been an Israeli death squad, sanctioned by your Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu and using purloined European passports, including those of British citizens, any promises to “fix” the law before the next general election should be reconsidered as a matter of state security.

In response to the possibility of being arrested in Britain, Livni was nonchalant and went so far as to propose arrogantly that she should make a visit simply to “test” our procedures for issuing arrest warrants for alleged war criminals. She also said that Britain knew that it had to change its laws just as many other European countries had been forced to. Her response to the events in Dubai and the associated passport scandal has been similarly derisive: “What was disproportionate this time?” she asked. “Was there a disproportionate use of passports?” She also mocked the criticism Israel had come under from the international community for the assassination and asserted, “Every terrorist must know that no one will support him when a soldier, and it doesn’t matter what soldier, tries to kill him, whether it is in the Gaza Strip, Afghanistan or Dubai.” Her statements not only allude to Israeli involvement in the murder and reveal a ruthless barbarism and a presumption of automatic immunity for Israelis, but they also underscore a blatant disregard for the sovereignty of other states.

Israel has proved time and again that it believes it can defy the international community and trample underfoot accepted standards of law and morality as well as renege on obligations to its allies. Al-Mabhouh’s murder is but one example of Israel’s militarist doctrine stretching back decades and its insistence on carrying out an underground war through the “targeted assassinations” of leaders in an effort to decapitate regional opposition organisations. Such methods have only ever served war and coupled with its overall aggression toward neighbouring states, have often backfired spectacularly. The case in point is Hamas, who have effectively maintained a ceasefire for over a year and have always operated according to the principle that resistance should only be fought in Palestine.

Israel’s actions, in combination with the war crimes allegations reinforce the view that it is a rogue state. It is only through US support and vetoes in the UN Security Council that this has been allowed to continue. Should Britain change its laws to protect the likes of Livni, it would be normalising what transpired in Dubai as a countenanced form of state relations as well as giving Israel an international licence to kill. Yesterday, the murder took place in a hotel in Dubai, but given the mindset of Israel’s leaders, who is to say that tomorrow, it will not be on the streets of London? With Israel already having used British passports in their operations, and in view of Britain’s lackadaisical official response which led some to surmise that it was complicit, are the streets of London to become a theatre in which shady foreign organisations play out their battles?

David Miliband’s promise to have the law changed has attracted, justifiably, fierce condemnation from numerous politicians and human rights lawyers like Gerald Kauffman and Jeffery Bindman, as well as human rights organisations such as Amnesty International. You probably don’t need to be reminded of the prospect of a rebellion on your own back benches following the Early Day Motion signed by 123 MPs opposing any changes to the law.

If a careful study were carried out, it would probably find that most Britons are against any change in the universal jurisdiction law and in view of the looming general election, to ignore such opinion would be a democratic travesty and a serious political miscalculation. Not only would it protect the likes of Tzipi Livni by limiting Britain’s ability to pursue criminals at the International Criminal Court, but it would also be a catastrophic and perhaps fatal error with regard to British security. Some of the Jewish community’s leaders in this country assert that the threat of prison for visiting Israeli official will make it harder for the government to secure peace in the Middle East. That presumes that we are a major player in the peace process which is palpably not really true. Nevertheless, if Britain does not stand its ground on this issue, it runs the risk of being sucked into a conflict that is on the threshold of mutating into something that is even more sinister than it is at present.

Yours sincerely,