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Livni willing to face arrest over UK warrant:

January 19th, 2010
10:11 AM ET

By George Lerner; Producer, AMANPOUR.

(CNN) - Tzipi Livni, leader of a key Israeli opposition party, said Monday she would be willing to face arrest to challenge the validity of war crimes charges reportedly filed against her in a British court.

"For me, this is not a question," Livni told CNN's Christiane Amanpour, when asked whether she was willing to face arrest. "I mean, yes, the answer is yes. I am."

A British court last year issued an arrest warrant for Livni, leader of Israel's Kadima Party. Details of the warrant were never made public; the warrant was reportedly later dropped.

"I would like this to be, in a way, maybe even a test case, because I'm willing to speak up and to speak about the military operation in Gaza Strip," Livni said.

Livni had served as Israel's foreign minister during an Israeli three-week military offensive against Hamas in Gaza that ended exactly one year ago. The United Nations and some human-rights groups have blamed Israel and Hamas for human rights abuses during the conflict.

But Livni, who is no longer in the Israeli government, defended the former government's decision to go to war, saying that the campaign was needed to confront rocket attacks by Palestinian movement Hamas on Israeli civilians, particularly those living in southern Israel.

"I know that the decisions that we made were crucial to give an answer to Israeli civilians that couldn't live in the south part of Israel and later or even also in different parts of Israel," she said.

"It was part of my responsibility, and this was the right answer. And I'm willing to stand for these reasons and to explain this to - to the world and to any court."

She said that the Israeli military had already conducted its own investigation into the actions of its soldiers, but that she did not necessarily support a public inquiry in Israel, unless it helped Israeli soldiers when they traveled outside Israel.

"Part of our responsibility is also to defend the Israeli soldiers and officials that worked according to our decision in the government. And if an inquiry helps them, this is fine, so I can support an inquiry, as long as this helps them. It's not about me. It's about the Israeli soldiers, because I want them to leave Israel and to feel free to visit different parts of the world according, you know, to - like any - like any other citizen of the free world and any other soldier."

One year after end of fighting in Gaza, Livni said that the Israeli blockade of Gaza would stay in place.

"The blockade on Gaza - yes. But it's important to say that, when it comes to humanitarian needs, the gates are open," she said.

It was not clear who originally sought the warrant for Livni last year from Westminster Magistrates Court. British legal rules allow arrest warrants to be issued by a court independent of ministerial approval.

The arrest warrant was revoked once it was clear Livni was not in Britain, the BBC reported.

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soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. Omar Haleem

    I think it bodes well that the opposition is willing to talk about a final peace deal, i thinkit's time to get this issue settled once and for all and i sincerely hope that the entire world faciliates in this process soon. This is a very unstable world, and i think people are fedup of this constant conflict. we would all like to see Israel be recognized for it's incredible relief efforts, as they have done recently in Haiti and less for its treatment of palestinians.

    January 19, 2010 at 1:27 pm | Reply
  2. Fred Brun

    I have just watched the program with Livni and came away very disappointed. It was a PR opportunity for her because the core questions were not asked and answered. How can a major representative of a so called civilised country, so callously dismiss the indiscriminate killings of Palestinians at a ratio of 20 to 1? Why she was not asked, for the reasons that the Palestinians shoot rockets into Israel? Does an occupied people not have the right the defend itself? Why are there sanctions against some Middle Eastern countries for ignoring UN sanctions but not Israel? Why can Israeli settlers have permits to build on occupied lands but Palestinians requests for such permits on their own land are regularly rejected? Why do Israeli settlers have water rights in the occupied territories and those of the Palestinians are very restricted. Why the Israeli military is not subject to the Geneva Convention and the Principles held out in the Nὔrnberg war tribunals? Why do you think European countries are so quiet about the atrocities being committed against the Palestinian people? Is it their WWII guilt? Obviously there are many more questions to cover but these are questions which were not addressed in depth and followed up leaving Livni spout her psycho babble propaganda about Israel’s right to defence. After 60 years of conflict with an impoverished Palestinian people Israel must be held accountable. Questions posed on your program now will unfortunately not contribute to that.

    January 19, 2010 at 2:42 pm | Reply
  3. Fernando F.

    Fred Brun, you are right on the spot with all your questions.
    Omar, Israel should be recognize for his relief efforts to Haiti, but I will applaud them more when they give the same relief to the Palestinians. Restricting water is a way of torture. Just for that, the UN should be imposing daily sanctions to Israel, but all the Jewish lobbyist in the US will impose their will and stop those sanctions. Is amazing the influence Israel has in the US. They even want to use the US army to attack Iran. It worked with Iraq (nobody has notice that?)

    January 19, 2010 at 4:32 pm | Reply
  4. priya bery

    For an extremely intelligent people, Israel's handling of Palestine is so very bizarre. When you as a nation restrict water to the Palestinians on a daily basis, how does it matter what you do in Haiti!!!!

    January 20, 2010 at 3:09 pm | Reply

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