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Abuse of process
So says yesterday's Times leader on the Tzipi Livni affair:
The application of law to warfare is among the greatest advances in Western civilisation over four centuries. In the name of human rights, that tradition is being traduced by a politicised campaign to harass the statesmen of a democracy. It is unlikely that you will have needed to read this far to learn that the targeted nation is Israel.
It is preposterous that so serious an issue is reduced to a legal technicality. It makes British justice look ridiculous. The least of the consequences of the warrant against Ms Livni will be a monumental waste of time. Any Israeli minister visiting the UK will seek a meeting with a British counterpart merely to insure against the risk of a frivolous legal case.
But the campaign for legal targeting of Israeli leaders is not merely frivolous: it is repugnant. It risks damaging Britain’s relations with an ally, undermines the Government’s moral authority in promoting a two-state settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and brings the legal system into disrepute.
David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, is now looking urgently at ways to close the loophole. Universal jurisdiction has honourable intent. It seeks to protect the vulnerable by ensuring that war criminals can be tried even if they live in countries with weak legal systems. It is the rationale for the indictment of Radovan Karadzic before an international tribunal at The Hague. But Israel’s Gaza offensive was not the genocide at Srebrenica.
The legal campaign against Israel’s leaders is not justice but politics, and disreputable politics at that.