J.J. Goldberg

Barak Warned To Leave England Ahead of Possible War Crimes Suit

By J.J. Goldberg

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Ehud Barak, the Israeli defense minister, was warned by Israeli government attorneys this week to leave England and head home after Palestinians filed suit for an international arrest warrant on war crimes charges.

Barak decided to ignore the warning and continue his visit, according to reports in Haaretz and Ynet/Yediot. He was scheduled to meet on Tuesday with Prime Minister Gordon Brown and on Wednesday with Foreign Minister David Miliband. He’s also scheduled to address a Labour Friends of Israel event at the annual Labour Party conference taking place in Brighton this week.

Barak is the second ranking Israeli official to face possible arrest in Britain under the legal principle of universal jurisdiction, which allows countries to arrest and try foreign nationals for crimes committed in another country. Retired General Doron Almog, former chief of Israel’s southern command, went to England in September 2005 to address a conference on childhood autism, but returned home without even leaving his plane after Israel’s London embassy warned him about a warrant for his arrest in relation to the July 2002 airstrike against Gaza Hamas leader Salah Shehada, which killed 14 people including nine children. Britain later canceled the warrant.

The case against Barak is reportedly based on the Gaza war last winter. It comes just a few weeks after the release of the Goldstone Report, commissioned by the United Nations Human Rights Council, on alleged war crimes in Gaza. The London suit doesn’t appear to be related directly to the report – except for the fact that it would be neutralized, along with other universal jurisdiction efforts against it, including the Goldstone allegations, if Israel were to mount a serious, independent investigation into Gaza-related allegations, along the lines of the acclaimed investigations it launched following the 1973 and 1982 wars. So far the Netanyahu government refuses.

Haaretz columnist Brad Burston recently wrote a powerful piece on the mounting efforts by Palestinians and human rights activists to isolate Israel, and the damage it does to the cause of peace they claim to be pursuing. It’s a cry from an increasingly helpless Israeli left, marginalized at home and now abandoned by its supposed allies abroad.

Here’s Doron Almog discussing the 2005 incident:

Here’s a British news report from last spring that sympathetically describes universal jurisdiction cases against Israel currently working their way through Spanish courts – also stemming from the Shehada bombing:

Here’s Philippines legal scholar Ralph Sarmiento discussing the legal theories behind universal jurisdiction:

Here’s Bob Dylan on the harmonica at a Chabad event, accompanying his son-in-law Peter Himmelman and actor Harry Dean Stanton in a lively if somewhat off-key rendition of Hava Nagila.

Norman Sat. Oct 3, 2009

You've condemned the violent Palestinians, and called for peace-loving Palestinians to step forth.

Now they're stepping forth, and trying to use the legal process.

They've tried to use the courts in Israel, and gotten nowhere -- Israeli courts refuse to convict Israelis for the kind of murders documented by B'Tselem and the Goldsone report.

So now they're using the international courts. What's wrong with that? What do Israelis have to worry about if they're innocent? Don't you think British courts can dispense justice fairly?

I think Israelis will get better justice in British courts than Palestinians have gotten in Israeli courts.

B.J. Sat. Oct 3, 2009

Norman the Jew hating goy is again attacking the Jewish State.

Yes, Norman, no Israeli Jew will get a fair treatment in a British or even European court.

Toby Sat. Oct 3, 2009

"Here’s Philippines legal scholar Ralph Sarmiento discussing the legal theories behind universal jurisdiction:"

Interesting discussion, Ralph mentions the Sudan were over a million people were murdered.

Assumeing the worst about the Gaza war and it is a big assumption the difference in scale is astounding.

Only obsessed Jew haters would compare the two countries.

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