MPs honored for Israel advocacy

Ambassador calls to amend law exploited to issue warrants for IDF personnel.

ron prosor 298.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
ron prosor 298.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Three members of Parliament were recognized for their activities advocating for Israel at a reception in the House of Commons last week. At an all-party reception hosted by Israeli Ambassador Ron Prosor, Conservative Liam Fox, Labor's Louise Ellman and Liberal Democrat Lembit Opik were each presented with a silver kiddush cup in recognition of their "indefatigability." As shadow defense secretary, Fox has visited Israel on numerous occasions. At the 2006 Conservative Party Conference, he said: "Even in dealing with Israel, we must remember that in the battle for the values that we stand for, for democracy against theocracy, for democratic liberal values against repression - Israel's enemies are our enemies and this is a battle in which we all stand together or we will all fall divided." Ellman is a member of the Holocaust Educational Trust's council and vice-chair of Labor Friends of Israel. Last week, she posed a question to the parliamentary under-secretary of state for international development, Shahid Malik, about steps he has taken to ensure that aid allocated to Palestinians was spent on the purposes for which it was intended. After Malik told her that "aid to the occupied Palestinian territories is subject to the highest possible level of scrutiny," Ellman pointed out that on December 29, a truck was found transporting 6.5 tons of potassium nitrate, which can be used to construct bombs, into Gaza, disguised in a bag labelled "EU sugar." Prosor called Ellman "a tireless champion of democracy in the Middle East and a voice of reason, calmness and perspective." Opik is also the chair of the All Party Parliamentary Friends of the Bahai Faith. The ambassador thanked Opik for his support and his work on human rights and Holocaust education and with Bahais. Prosor also discussed Britain's Universal Jurisdiction Legislature, which has been used to issue arrest warrants for Israelis on "war crimes" charges. He said the law was detrimental to relations between Israel and the UK and called for it to be amended. British citizens can file private criminal complaints of war crimes against military personnel, even if the military personnel are citizens of other countries and the alleged crimes were not committed on British soil. In 2005, Maj.-Gen. (res.) Doron Almog - former OC Southern Command - evaded arrest at Heathrow Airport in London after he was warned not to disembark from an El Al flight because British detectives were waiting to arrest him for allegedly ordering the demolition of Palestinian homes in Gaza in 2002. In 2006, Gaza Division commander Brig.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi, who was scheduled to study at the Royal College of Defense Studies in London, was warned by an IDF judge that he could be arrested on arrival in Britain. Kochavi canceled his trip. Former Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) chief Avi Dichter also canceled a trip last year out of concern that a warrant might be issued for his arrest. Also on Wednesday, James Arbuthnot, MP, chair of the Conservative Friends of Israel Parliamentary group, asked Prime Minister Gordon Brown whether if Israel enjoyed greater security, "the lives of Palestinians would be transformed beyond recognition." "I agree entirely," Brown said. "It is important that we move forward by guaranteeing the security of Israel and then responding to the urgent needs of the Palestinian people." Brown said he wanted to see more action dealing with the poverty in the two areas of the Palestinian Authority, and to safeguard the security of Israel. He said he would soon discuss these issues with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.