Hamas using English law to demand arrest of Israeli leaders for war crimes

Hamas using English law to demand arrest of Israeli leaders for war crimes

The Islamist group Hamas is masterminding efforts to have senior Israeli leaders arrested for alleged war crimes when they visit European countries including Britain, a top Hamas official involved in the effort has told The Times.

The claim comes amid continuing diplomatic fallout after a British arrest warrant was issued last week against Tzipi Livni, who served as Foreign Minister during Israel’s Gaza offensive last winter. The warrant was withdrawn when it became clear that Ms Livni, now leader of the opposition, was not in the country. Its existence apparently prompted her to cancel a trip to attend a meeting in London.

President Peres described the incident as “one of the greatest political mistakes” that Britain could have made and calling for the law to be changed. “Everything is based on … a hostile majority public opinion,” he said last week. “The British promised they would fix this and it is time that they do so.” [continued…]

The democratic value of universal accountability

In important global dynamic today bridges the worlds of politics, morality and violence. Societies are grappling with the challenge of how to hold accountable the political leaders who are accused of various degrees of criminal behavior, including war crimes, torture — even genocide or crimes against humanity. The most outrageous cases are tried in special international tribunals or at the International Criminal Court. Other cases reflect more contested situations and raise critical issues of the universality of ethics and law.

Two cases last week in the United States and Israel are interesting in this respect, because these two countries remind us twice a week — and more often in war time and on patriotic national holidays — that they are democracies whose values should be spread around the world. Well, the world at the receiving end of their moral munificence frequently asks an important question to which it has yet to receive a clear answer:

Are the United States and Israel subject to the same standards of accountability for their behavior as everyone else in the world, or do they operate at a higher plane of impunity when it comes to using violence to kill, torture, and invade or occupy other peoples? [continued…]

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