British MP Ann Clwyd likens Livni to Raed Salah

MP: "Ironic" that UK law protects one opposition leader from detainment and not the other; Amir Peretz leaves London early to avoid arrest.

Livni 311 reuters (photo credit: reuters)
Livni 311 reuters
(photo credit: reuters)
UK Member of Parliament Ann Clwyd compared Kadima party leader Tzipi Livni to the head of the Islamic Movement’s northern branch, Sheikh Raed Salah, who was detained by the UK Border Agency on of the Home Office last week.
Speaking in the House of Commons on Tuesday, Clwyd said, “I find it particularly ironic that we are prepared to change the law to protect one Israeli opposition leader when another opposition leader, the Palestinian Sheikh Salah, comes here and is put straight in jail. Where is the justice in that?”
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Clwyd, a member of the Labor Party, was referring to a proposed bill making its way through the UK parliament which would make it harder for private parties to obtain arrest warrants citing the principle of universal jurisdiction.
In December 2009, an arrest warrant was issued against Livni on allegations of war crimes.
Salah was convicted in 2005 of, among other offenses, aiding terrorist organizations, and served two years in prison for the felony.
Speaking to The Jerusalem Post, Clwyd refused to distance herself from the comment.
“I don’t know Raed Salah,” she said. “All I know is that he came to the UK to discuss Palestine and to promote peace and justice for Palestinians, and all of a sudden he was arrested.”
Asked whether someone convicted of aiding terrorist organizations should be excluded from the UK, Clwyd said “it’s not for me to judge.”
Responded Livni’s spokesman: “It is twisted to compare extremists who spread hate and terror to an elected government that went to war against terrorism.” He added that changing the law was not a personal matter, nor a favor to Israel, and stressed that it was important to distinguish between soldiers and terrorists.
MK Amir Peretz (Labor), who was defense minister during the Second Lebanon War, cut short his trip to London last weekend amid fears of arrest on charges of war crimes. Peretz had been advised by the Foreign and Justice ministries not to enter the United Kingdom at all because his arrest could be used as a provocation against Israel.
Peretz insisted on going to London nevertheless, but did agree to change his itinerary. He canceled a speech he had intended to deliver at Regents College and told college officials he would not be coming to Britain – but he came anyway, and kept his meetings with Jewish organizations.
Yediot Aharonot reported that Peretz had moved up his departure from Sunday to Saturday night, and by the time a warrant was issued for his arrest, he had already left the country. But a spokesman for Peretz said he left early for personal reasons – not because he feared arrest.
Dovish Maj.-Gen. (res) Danny Rothschild was forced to cut short his trip to the UK following reports from the Israeli embassy in London that pro-Palestinian groups were planning to petition the county court for his arrest.
Rothschild coordinated IDF operations in the Palestinian territories in the early 1990s, during the first intifada. The attempted arrest of Rothschild allegedly came in response to Salah’s arrest last week, Army Radio said.
Coalition chairman Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) condemned the incidents.
“Unfortunately, there is a lack of understanding of what’s happening in the Middle East,” Elkin said. “Comparing an Islamic leader involved in terror to a parliamentary opposition leader shows ignorance or poor judgment at a time when Europe [itself] is facing off against radical Islam. Such apologetics have enabled al-Qaida to make headway in Europe.”
The Board of Deputies, the representative organization of British Jewry, responded that “One would expect little else from Ann Clwyd, who propagates an entirely false comparison between Salah, a convicted hate-monger, and senior Israeli politicians. No one should be above the law – but nor should the law be open to abuse by those who share Ms. Clwyd’s agenda.”
Mark Gardner, spokesman for the UK Jewish community security organization CST, said that Salah’s UK defenders were “trying to turn an issue of anti-Semitism and counter-extremism policy into attacks against Israel.
“We have seen it from the entire anti- Israel lobby, the Guardian newspaper and numerous members of Parliament. It typifies the levels to which our public debate has sunk in recent years.”
Labor MP David Winnick, who has also questioned Salah’s detention, told the Post: “If there is evidence that this person is anti-Semitic, then there is every reason to ban him. But it is the responsibility of the British authorities to look at all the factors and be very careful not to give the impression that someone is being excluded just because they are strongly pro-Palestinian.”