Miliband bats away Pales­tinian ‘war crimes’ prose­cu­tion bid

The Jewish Chronicle - - News - BY LEON SY­MONS AND AN­SHEL PF­EF­FER

FOR­EIGN SEC­RE­TARY David Miliband has de­liv­ered a with­er­ing ri­poste to an at­tempt by Pales­tinian sup­port­ers to have Ehud Barak ar­rested in Bri­tain as a war crim­i­nal.

Ad­dress­ing the Labour Friends of Is­rael fringe meet­ing, Mr Miliband warned: “This will never be­come a coun­try where min­is­ters of Is­rael are un­able to come and have proper di­a­logue with the gov­ern­ment of the United King­dom.”

Ear­lier in the day, lawyers act­ing for 16 Pales­tinian fam­i­lies ap­plied un­suc­cess­fully to West­min­ster Mag­is­trates’ Court for the war­rant.

Deputy district Judge Daphne Wick­ham said: “I am sat­is­fied that un­der cus­tom­ary in­ter­na­tional law, Mr Barak has im­mu­nity from prose­cu­tion as he would not be able to per­form his func­tions ef­fi­ciently if he were the sub­ject of crim­i­nal pro­ceed­ings in this ju­ris­dic­tion.”

Mr Barak had been in­vited by the Labour Party as a con­fer­ence guest in Brighton. He ar­rived at the week­end and held talks with Gor­don Brown and Mr Miliband, as well speak­ing at the LFI event. But he gave no press con­fer­ences be­fore leav­ing on Wed­nes­day.

The tac­tic of at­tempt­ing to have Is­raelis ar­rested for al­leged war crimes be­gan in 2005, when re­tired IDF head of South­ern Com­mand Ma­jor Gen­eral Doron Al­mog was forced to sit in an El Al plane at Heathrow rather than risk ar­rest. There was also an at­tempt to ar­rest politi­cian and for­mer IDF chief Shaul Mo­faz.

Se­nior IDF of­fi­cers now have to co- or­di­nate their travel plans with a com­mit­tee com­pris­ing le­gal ex­perts from the army and the Jus­tice and For­eign min­istries to min­imise the risk of ar­rest in coun­tries in­clud­ing Bri­tain.

In ev­ery meet­ing with their Bri­tish coun­ter­parts, Is­raeli leaders have de­manded that Bri­tain changes the laws en­abling pri­vate cit­i­zens to re­quest ar­rest war­rants for for­eign­ers on war crimes charges. As­sur­ances were given by Mr Brown and his pre­de­ces­sor Tony Blair. Is­raeli diplo­mats were also promised that the Tories would not op­pose such a mea­sure in Par­lia­ment.

Yet six months ago, the For­eign Of­fice dis­creetly no­ti­fied the Is­raeli gov­ern­ment that, given pub­lic re­ac­tion to Op­er­a­tion Cast Lead in Gaza, the changes would not pos­si­ble be in the near fu­ture.

Gor­don Brown greets Ehud Barak at the Labour Friends of Is­rael meet­ing dur­ing the Brighton con­fer­ence

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