British Anti-Israel Protest 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
An amendment nullifying a law that allows Israelis to be prosecuted in the
United Kingdom for alleged war crimes passed an important hurdle when it was
approved by the House of Commons on Wednesday evening. It now moves to the House
of Lords for final approval, which could take months.
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The amendment, part
of a larger legislation package on police reform and social responsibility,
would end a situation in which private citizens in the UK can request that
arrest warrants be issued against non-citizens suspected of committing war
crimes or crimes against humanity anywhere in the world.
The existing law
allowed a warrant to be issued in December 2009 for the arrest of former foreign
minister Tzipi Livni, who had been scheduled to visit to address a Jewish
Under the amendment, a private prosecutor would have to obtain the
consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions prior to the issue of an arrest
warrant under universal jurisdiction. The new legislation would make it much
more difficult to use the UK courts for political purposes.
In the last
few years the issue has been a source of friction between the two
Critics of the amendment have charged the law is being changed
solely to appease the Israeli government. On Wednesday, when pro-Israel Labor MP
Louise Ellman rose to refute such a charge, she was criticized by a Labor MP
“Here we are, the Jews again,” he said. He later
apologized.JTA contributed to this report.