Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Ehud Olmert could face war crimes arrest if he visits UK.

As someone who has already said that I think this man has committed war crimes, I shouldn't be surprised by the news that lawyers are stating that, should Olmert ever visit Britain, there is a very good chance that he could be arrested and face trial for war crimes.

Neither Olmert nor Tzipi Livni, the foreign minister during the Cast Lead offensive, and a member of Israel's war cabinet, would enjoy immunity from prosecution for alleged breaches of the Geneva conventions, predicted Daniel Machover, who is involved in intensifying legal work after the controversial Goldstone report on the three-week conflict. Neither are ministers any longer.

Prosecutions of Israeli political and military figures remain likely despite the failure to obtain an arrest warrant for Ehud Barak, the defence minister, when he visited the UK earlier this month, he said. In the Barak case a magistrate accepted advice from the Foreign Office that the minister enjoyed state immunity and rejected an application made on behalf of several residents of the Gaza Strip.

"This needs to be tested at the right time and in the right place," Machover said. "One day one of these people will make a mistake and go to the wrong country and face a criminal process — and then it'll be a matter for the courts of that country to give them a fair trial: that's what the Palestinian victims want."

This is the kind of news which will unite all Israeli politicians in outrage. After all, Olmert and Livni mainly took part in this action to prove to the Israeli public that they could be just as hard as Netanyahu during the latest Israeli election. In the end it did them no good as Netanyahu was the one who was able to form a government.

And there is a certain irony to the fact that it is Netanyahu who is now left publicly defending actions which were undertaken in the hope of denying him power.
The death toll for the war was some 1,300 Palestinians and 13 Israelis. Israel insists it acted in legitimate self-defence in response to rocket attacks by Hamas.
There was nothing legitimate about this war. It was a war fought as part of an electoral campaign.

Netanyahu is currently outraged that his electoral rivals may face prosecution should they travel abroad. Indeed, Netanyahu is outraged that anyone should seek to impose any limitations on the way his state chooses to "fight terror". To this end he is threatening Obama that no peace negotiations of any kind can take place as long as the Goldstone Report remains on the table.
The development of universal jurisdiction has been boosted by the Goldstone report, which urged Israel to conduct an independent inquiry into alleged war crimes. Failing that, other governments were advised to try suspects using universal jurisdiction. Another option was for the UN security council to refer allegations to the international criminal court. Israel refused to co-operate with the report, which also accused Hamas of war crimes.
I am all for the notion of universal jurisdiction. I supported the arrest of Pinochet and was very disappointed that a Labour government devised ways to allow him to slip free.

Society is very harsh in it's treatment of common criminals, but seems averse to prosecuting people who have engaged in the much more serious business of war crimes.

That strikes me as perverse.

Why should a person who has illegally killed thousands be less likely to be prosecuted than someone who has killed his wife?

It would only take one prosecution for politicians to realise that they are not above the law. If that were to happen maybe they would think twice before engaging in acts of blatant illegality as Blair, Olmert, Bush and Cheney have done.

And if reticence to engage in illegality was the end result, that would only be a good thing.

Click here for full article.

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