Israel's Livni to visit UK after change in law

AP News
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Posted: Oct 05, 2011 2:55 PM
Israel's Livni to visit UK after change in law

Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni is visiting Britain this week, officials said Wednesday _ two years after she canceled a trip to the U.K. when pro-Palestinian activists obtained a warrant for her arrest.

Britain's Foreign Office said Livni will meet Foreign Secretary William Hague and other officials in London. Officials said the pair would discuss U.K.-Israel relations and recent events in the Middle East.

The Israeli embassy confirmed Thursday's visit but gave no further details.

Livni, a former Israeli foreign minister, canceled a December 2009 trip after a British judge issued an arrest warrant over her involvement in Israel's 2008 attack on the Gaza Strip.

The U.K. has since tightened its law on universal jurisdiction, a principle that allows British courts to prosecute foreigners accused of crimes against humanity, wherever they were committed.

Pro-Palestinian activists have repeatedly used it to seek the arrest of Israeli officials, straining Britain's relations with Israel.

Deputy Israeli Prime Minister Dan Meridor canceled a trip to London last year, fearing arrest, and in 2009 Palestinian activists tried unsuccessfully to have Defense Minister Ehud Barak arrested during a visit to Britain.

Spain and Britain jointly pioneered the concept of universal jurisdiction when, in 1998, Britain executed a Spanish arrest warrant for former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. British authorities kept Pinochet under house arrest until releasing him on humanitarian grounds in 2000.

British courts have, until recently, been more liberal than those in many countries in their application of the principle.

Previously, anyone in Britain could apply to a judge for such a warrant, but since a change last month it requires the approval of the government's chief prosecutor.