Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni will meet Foreign Secretary William Hague in Britain today, after receiving an invitation to visit the UK from Hague last week. Livni is the first senior Israeli official to visit Britain since the controversial universal jurisdiction law was changed to prevent the issuing of politically motivated arrest warrants. Livni was forced to cancel a visit to the UK in December 2009 after attempts were made in a British court to issue a warrant for her arrest.
A Foreign Office spokesman told the Jerusalem Post, “Ms. Livni is coming to the UK at a critical moment for the Middle East. The foreign secretary is looking forward to discussing a range of issues from the Middle East peace process to the impact of recent events in the region.” As well as meeting the Foreign Secretary, Livni is scheduled to meet with shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander.
The old law allowed private complaints of war crimes to be lodged against military personnel and other officials with only prima facie evidence that would not sustain a prosecution. The law was used by anti-Israel activists to secure arrest warrants against Israeli public officials visiting the UK. The Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act, which received royal assent a couple of weeks ago, means that the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions will now be required before an arrest warrant is issued.
Livni’s visit to the UK is being facilitated by BICOM.