Livni: Willing to serve time in UK prison for Israel

Former FM says she will visit Britain but not to cause provocation; says British elections delayed the passing of amendment lifting her arrest.

October 21, 2010 17:58
2 minute read.
Livni close up 311

Livni close up 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file[)


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Kadima leader Tzipi Livni on Thursday commented on the warrant for her arrest issued in the UK on suspicion of war crimes last year, saying she would be “willing to spend time in a British prison for Israel.”

Speaking at the Jewish People Policy Planning Institute (JPPPI) conference in Jerusalem, the former foreign minister cited her family history of defiance to the UK as her inspiration.

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“My parents were both put in British prisons,” the opposition head said in half jest. “I am also willing to sit in a British prison for Israel.”

Livni’s parents were jailed by the British during the 1940s for being members of Irgun, a Jewish underground organization which sought to oust the British from Palestine and create a Jewish state.

Asked by The Jerusalem Post if she considered traveling to the UK to make a principled stand for Israel and risk incarceration, she said that while she had considered it briefly at the time she received advice against it from experts.

“I am going to come to Britain –I say that to all- but I’m waiting for them to change the law,” she said. “Just to travel to the UK to cause a provocation isn’t constructive.”

In December 2009 a British judge accepted a petition by a pro-Palestinian group which accused Livni of complicity in alleged war crimes by Israel during the Second Lebanon War and issued a warrant for her arrest. Livni, who was Israel’s foreign minister during the war with Hezbollah in Lebanon in 2006, canceled her planned trip to the UK in response and hasn’t visited since.

Livni told the audience gathered at the Mount Zion Hotel in Jerusalem Thursday for the conference that British authorities at the time of the incident had assured her an amendment would be passed lifting the threat of her arrest, but that the recent elections in Britain had delayed their plans.

“Now we have bi-, and tri-partisan politics so it’s taken a little longer to amend,” she said, referring to inclusion of the Liberal Democrats in the government for the first time in decades.

Earlier Thursday, former US ambassador to Israel Dan Kurtzer and Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations’s Macolm Hoenline both spoke at the conference in Jerusalem held by the Israeli think tank.

Hoenline told the audience that Jerusalem’s pivotal place in Jewish history meant the Jewish people in the Disapora also had a right to express their opinion on its final status in talks with the Palestinians.

The conference is the JPPPI’s annual gathering in which the think tank debates issues of importance to the future of the Jewish people. This year five forums are being held, ranging on diverse issues from the peace process to the controversial conversion bill. The conference will end today with a keynote address by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

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