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Israel defends officers

by: Diana Bahur-Nir, Ynetnews - Last updated: 2005-09-14

Tzipi Livni

Tzipi Livni

Lawsuits filed in Britain against Israeli army officers over apparent “war crimes” they committed in Palestinian areas have become a politically motivated tool, says Israel's Justice Minister Tzipi Livni.

"England is turning into an address for lawsuits that do not deal with its own citizens, and this may undermine its war on terrorism, because it (lawsuits) is being used for negative purposes," she said.

“This move gives legitimacy to terror,” Livni charged. “Moreover, the Brits, who are fighting international terrorism, cannot legitimize this when their soldiers are in Iraq. At the end it will be like a boomerang that would come back to haunt them.”

The minister said she instructed the Justice Ministry to prepare for handling the matter both on the legal and diplomatic fronts.

“We turned to the relevant countries so they act to minimize the option of filing such lawsuits, for several reasons,” she said.

“European countries, like England, must make a moral and legal distinction as they do between murder and accidental killing,” she said, “(Just like between a) terrorist who attempts to kill innocents and unintentional killings.”

Justice Minister Livni promised Israel will provide legal defence to all the officers who were prosecuted.
“Israel will defend each and every one of them, but I intend to act on the diplomatic level to amend this legislation, to prevent such lawsuits from taking place,” she said. “I intend to narrow the incidence of the law in order significantly reduce the capacity to file such lawsuits.”

According to legal sources, the lawsuits were filed because some countries allow for the personal prosecution of war criminals.

“Every country is free to decide whether it wishes to allow that. Some countries, like Belgium, decided not to. Once such a lawsuit has been filed, nothing much can be done but to provide the defendants with legal consultation.”

British Parliament Member Edward Garnier said Tuesday he is disappointed with the Almog incident.

Garnier said he finds no justification for causing such discomfort to a high ranking general of a democratic country that is also one of England’s allies. He also added that such cases should be condemned.

British lawyer Daniel Machover who filed the arrest warrant against Almog told Ynet: “I would advise Doron Almog to hire a good lawyer, since in accordance with our client’s wish we are planning on making the warrant against him international.”

Reproduced with permission: Ynetnews