The Day In Israel: Tuesday Dec 15th, 2009

39

Question: Did a British court issue an arrest warrant against opposition chairwoman Tzipi Livni for alleged “war crimes” committed during Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip last winter?

Possible answers:

a) Yes



Senior officials in Israel confirmed reports on Monday that a British court issued an arrest warrant against opposition chairwoman Tzipi Livni for her role in orchestrating Israel’s military offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip nearly a year ago.

The request for the warrant was submitted by a pro-Palestinian organization.

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Earlier Monday, Arab-language media reported that Livni canceled her participation in a Jewish function in London after a warrant for her arrest was issued over part in last winter’s Israel’s Gaza offensive.

Israel’s ambassador to London, Ron Prosor, conferred with officials in the British Ministry of Justice who told him that they were unaware of any criminal complaint or arrest warrant against the former foreign minister.

Yet, further inquiries by Israeli officials revealed that a warrant had indeed been issued.

b) Yes, but it was later rescinded

The Guardian reported Monday that a warrant for the arrest of Opposition chairwoman Tzipi Livni had been issued by a British court, but was rescinded once it was discovered that she was not in the country.

Livni was scheduled to travel to the UK on Sunday but canceled her trip at the last minute. The Guardian reported that the Westminster magistrates court issued the warrant at the request of pro-Palestinian activists, but it was later withdrawn.

The attorneys who appealed for the warrant had apparently not been informed of Livni’s cancellation. Their clients wanted the former foreign minister arrested for her implication in Operation Cast Lead in Gaza.

The British Foreign Office immediately issued an apologetic statement. “The UK is determined to do all it can to promote peace in the Middle East and to be a strategic partner of Israel. To do this, Israel’s leaders need to be able to come to the UK for talks with the British government. We are looking urgently at the implications of this case,” it said.

b) No

Kadima leader Tzipi Livni declined a request to lecture in Britain due to her inability to obtain a meeting with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and not due to fears of being arrested, sources close to Livni said Monday night.

Livni was invited a month ago to address the Jewish National Fund UK’s annual conference in London, but two weeks ago she turned down the invitation because Brown would be abroad at the time. Instead, she addressed the conference by video.

Al-Jazeera had reported on Monday that Livni did not go to London because a British court had issued an arrest warrant against her for alleged “war crimes” committed during Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip last winter, when she was foreign minister.

—-

The Guardian confirmed later in the day that the Westminster Magistrate’s Court had issued the warrant on behalf of Palestinian victims of the three-week offensive.

Both Livni’s office and the Foreign Ministry refuted the report.

“The opposition leader is proud of all her decisions connected to Operation Cast Lead,” Livni’s office said in a statement. “The operation achieved its goal of defending the people of Israel and restoring Israel’s deterrence. Livni will continue presenting her view everywhere around the world.”

—-

Israeli ambassador to Britain Ron Prosor met with officials in the British Foreign Ministry and Justice Ministry, who denied that there had been any warrant issued or requested for Livni’s arrest.

Foreign Ministry officials speculated that once it was known that Livni had planned on visiting Britain, one of the pro-Palestinian groups there likely spread the word that they had requested an arrest warrant. Legal officials in the Foreign Ministry said Livni lacked diplomatic immunity that could protect her from arrest.

Updates (Israel time; most recent at top)

9:45PM: Great blog post on the recent Yasuf mosque attack, purportedly committed by Jewish “settlers.” (hat tip: Daled Amos)

“Rush to Judgment”

Last Friday, in the Arab village of Yasuf, in Samaria, near the Jewish community of Tapuach, a mosque was vandalized.

News reports spoke of the fact of “mosque arson,” but in point of fact the mosque wasn’t torched.  Korans and prayer rugs were burned, while the mosque was left in tact — this fact visible from photos.  Graffiti was written in Hebrew on the wall of the mosque: “Price tag — Greetings from Effi.” This is presumed to represent a radical group of “settlers” who have vowed to extract a price from the Arab population every time the Israeli government restricts development by Jews in Judea and Samaria.  It is thus being assumed in many quarters that Jews did this in “revenge” for Netanyahu’s building freeze.

Across Israel there have been condemnations of this act — including by law enforcement officials and rabbis.  The fact that they felt the need to condemn this passionately seems to indicate that they were assuming that it was likely Jews who did it. There were statements by law enforcement officials about how it’s time to get tougher with the “extremists” in Judea and Samaria.

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I believe that the assumption that “extremist” Jews did this IS a rush to judgment. There is a mind-set that tends to paint the “settlers” as bad, a danger to peace.  This perception has been shaped by Arab and leftist PR and been assimilated to a large degree.  And the assumption that Jews who live in Samaria set fire to a mosque fits right in with that.

If it turns out that Jews did do this, I will roundly condemn them. But I am not prepared to do so yet, for a host of reasons:

The law enforcement officials have come out full force in investigating this. But as I write, there is not only no suspect, but no lead.  Clearly, they keep close tab on those Jews considered to be radical.  That there is not even a “lead” after four days gives pause. The fact that there was an ostensible graffiti “signature” from a radical group does not, of course, mean that this group really did the vandalizing.  As the Regional Council of Samaria pointed out, “Who would be stupid enough to leave a name?”

~~~~~~~~~~

And there is more:

Reports I received today indicate that the mosque has already been cleaned up, so that a police investigation of the “scene of the crime” is impossible.  (News reports did say that the PA was going to be doing the clean-up.)  As it was, the damage was relatively minimal.  Not destruction of a mosque, but of the accessories of prayer — just enough destruction to make press and to make a fuss over.

~~~~~~~~~~

Over a period of years, there have been accusations of Jewish “radicals” cutting down Arab olive trees, but on several occasions it turned out that Arabs themselves had cut down the trees to make Jews in the area look bad.  Seems strange from our perspective, that they would damage their own property. But that’s because we don’t think as these Arabs do. The same thinking takes place in Gaza. Terrorists target the crossings from Israel into Gaza, making it necessary for Israel to close the crossings for a period. This means that the supplies don’t get to the people. But that’s OK, for it’s more important to make Israel look bad for closing crossings.

Ponder this carefully.

The working assumption is that the mosque was vandalized by a radical Jewish group in “retaliation” for the government freeze. But the freeze wasn’t just announced. It’s a good couple of weeks old. So why now?

What is new is the priority map, which was just announced last week by Netanyahu. It indicates which communities will receive special attention. And guess what? A number of communities in Judea and Samaria were included (more follows on this below). How threatening to the Arabs who want to see us move back to the Green Line. Is it coincidence that the “arson” took place last Friday, just two days after the announcement?

When a contingent of rabbis from the Shomron (Samaria) tried to visit Yasuf, they were rebuffed. The residents there said these rabbis were radicals, or associated with radicals. I though this a little strange, as one of the rabbis was Rabbi Froman of Tekoa, who has a reputation of sustaining warm relationships with Arabs, and he had brought his Arabic-speaking son with him.

What did the Yasuf villagers say? That they need the land to be rid of “settlers.” No peaceful co-existence. No acceptance of peaceful gestures. Get out.

I noted this carefully when it was said, and everyone else needs to note it, as well. The vandalized mosque potentially provides “evidence” for the world to see of why Jews should not live in Judea and Samaria.

~~~~~~~~~~

As to that priority map:  It has caused considerable dissension within the government. To me what has been taking place is schizoid, with one arm of the government unclear as to what the other is doing.  As I noted last week after the priority map was announced (announced just as there was a demonstration against the freeze taking place), it seemed to give a very mixed message with regard to that freeze.  And, sure enough, it made the Obama administration uneasy, so that reassurances had to be provided.  The communities in Judea and Samaria which were on the map would receive other kinds of assistance, our government said, but not housing assistance.  Not clear is whether this set of parameters was for the ten months of the freeze only, or would continue thereafter.

The map was approved by the Cabinet on Sunday, after announcements that the decision might be delayed because of objections.

Shas objected, and with good reason, because communities where those who were expelled from Gush Katif are settling were not given priority.

But the major source of tension with regard to the priorities set by the map emanates from the Labor party.  Four party “rebels” have been discontented for some time with Barak’s participation in Netanyahu’s coalition. (It is likely that the ferocity with which Barak administered the freeze on the ground, adding strictures that weren’t in the original announcement, was an attempt by him to show these rebels how tough he is with “settlers.”)

Now the rebels — Eitan Cabel, Shelly Yacimovich, Yuli Tamir, and Ophir Paz-Pines — say that clearly Barak knew what the priority map would include, and that this is the proverbial straw. According to a spokesman for the rebels, “The chances of us making peace with Barak are the same that this government will make peace with the Palestinians.”

What is being demanded is that within two to three months Labor leave the government if progress has not been made in the “peace process.”

The insistence of the left wing in blaming Israel for a failure of the “peace process” drives me to distraction.  How, precisely, do they think “progress” is supposed to be achieved when Abbas won’t come to the table? (See below on this.)

At any rate, this is one of those situations that will bear close watching, as the political implications are real.

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There are other issues with regard to communities in Judea and Samaria that I will return to as soon as possible.  It seems today that there is more to write about than time to do the writing.  It is almost time for candle-lighting and then celebration with friends.

Here I will simply report that Abbas has announced that he is abandoning the format of the Road Map and refusing to come to the negotiating table until we agree to return to the ’67 lines.  There is much to say about this, in due course, although we’ve been watching this unfold; it’s not exactly unexpected. (The PLO, by the way, will be formally extending Abbas’s term as PA president, until there are elections.)

Today in the village of Yasuf, Arabs demonstrated with the demand that Jews get out of the West Bank.  And, while I might be mistaken, it seems to me all of a piece.  How convenient that they have the “evidence” of the Jews having vandalized their mosque, to show the world why we cannot remain.

I am incensed, by the way, that the president of the EU has made a statement about this mosque. How many times, pray tell, has the president of the EU made statements when Arabs killed innocent Jews in Judea and Samaria?

7:48PM: As if the driving here wasn’t bad enough, now we have to worry about passenger jets.

A Russian commercial airplane narrowly avoided disaster on Tuesday afternoon after missing the landing strip at Ben Gurion International Airport.

According to Channel 10, the passenger jet arrived at the airport from the South, and was preparing to descend when the air traffic controllers realized the pilot was planning to land on the wrong landing strip and instructed him to turn back.

Several minutes later, the control tower noted that again the airplane had come from the wrong angle, and alerted the pilot about his error to avoid the jet crashing into Route 1, the highway between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

On the third try, the jet finally landed on its designated landing strip at the Ben Gurion Airport.

The Civil Aviation Authority opened an investigation into the incident.

6:20PM: On yesterday’s Breakfast Show on BBC Radio, the Guardian’s Associate Editor Michael White managed to turn a discussion on Silvio Berlusconi’s encounter with a nutter into an anti-Israel diatribe. (via Media Backspin)

In Israel they murder each other a great deal. The Israeli Defense Forces murder people because they don’t like their political style and what they’ve got to say and it only means that people more extreme come in and take their place.

Doesn’t really sound like the guy who over three years ago wrote:

As I get older my own sympathies are shifting back to where they started – with Israel as the regional underdog, however short-sighted and self-defeating some of its actions are.

4:12PM: PA President Mahmoud Abbas continues trying to take advantage of the international community’s insistence (especially the US) that Israel take unilateral steps towards peace, by insisting on the borders of a palestinian state as a precondition to negotiations.

Abbas grump - ReutersPalestinian President Mahmoud Abbas  demanded Tuesday that the international community recognize the 1967 borders as the borders of a new Palestinian state, and stated that this was a condition for the resumption of peace talks with Israel.

“We will renew negotiations if the settlements are completely halted and the 1967 borders recognized as the borders of the Palestinian state,” he said in Ramallah.

Speaking before the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s Central Committee, Abbas commended the European Union on a proposal to declare east Jerusalem the future capital of a Palestinian state.

He also condemned settlements. “Netanyahu’s announcement of a 10-month freeze in settlements is not considered a halt of all settlement activity,” he said, referring to a cabinet decision backed by the prime minister.

12:30PM: The Israeli Foreign Ministry has released the following statement in response to attempts to have Tzipi Livni arrested in Britain.

Israel rejects attempts to exploit British courts against MK Tzipi Livni

15 Dec 2009

Britain should fulfill its promises to stop anti-Israel exploitation of the British courts.

(Communicated by the MFA Spokesperson)

Israel rejects the cynical legal move made in the British court against the Head of the Opposition, MK Tzipi Livni, at the behest of radical elements, and wishes to point out that Israel and Britain are both engaged in a common struggle against the forces of international terror. In many parts of the world, British soldiers are fighting to eradicate terrorism.

Israel calls on the British government to fulfill its promises, once and for all, to act in preventing the exploitation of the British legal system by anti-Israel elements against the State of Israel and its citizens.

The absence of immediate, determined action to correct this abuse harms relations between Britain and Israel.

If Israeli leaders cannot visit Britain in proper, dignified fashion, this will, quite naturally, seriously compromise Britain’s ability to play the active role in the Middle East peace process that it desires.

10:40AM: Welcome to Israel’s first Sudanese restaurant.

10:00AM: Comedian Butch Bradley, who was just here in Israel for the first time performing as part of the Comedy for Koby tour, was really affected by the experience.

Which brings us to Israel – a country which, even on this brief acquaintance, Bradley says “touches your heart.” He sees us simply as “real people, just trying to live. And you’ve got all this banging on your front door late at night.”

He also describes us as a kind of “huge family,” which may hold a further secret of his empathy, since he comes from one himself. “I have a fiancé and millions of Irish cousins,” he says. “I’m going to bring them all, tell them all to come.”

America, he declares, with a conviction that defies dissent, “would go to war for Israel without a second thought. Even if not officially, the airports would be full… We do respect and love family.

“I was raised by a single mom,” he flows on. “We hug a lot. We say I love you. We pray. We go watch our cousins play high school football. We’re an Irish-Italian family, and we respect time. We know it’s not there forever. We’re postal workers, police officers, waiters and waitresses, concrete workers – real people. If my brother calls me at 3 a.m. I’m there.”

9:05AM: Here is an insight into the bullying tactics of the anti-Israel crowd.

The caller is apparently associated with a mob called Stop Funding Israel, whose website proclaims:

This website aims to deliver to you a comprehensive list of companies you can avoid to cut off the flow of money to the Ashkenazi run terrorist state of ISRAEL.

(for more on what Ashkenazi means, see here)

..while stating:

This website does not, will not, can ever endorse discrimination upon anyone for their opinions of religion, creed or nationailty or culture.

What is also telling is how the caller seems to think true knowledge is gained via Google. I somehow doubt he has read any historical books of note on the conflict, or has made any real effort to better understand what is truly going on in this part of the world.

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