Britain vows to change policy allowing U.K. to arrest Israeli politicians

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Thursday that the new U.K. government is already looking into the issue of universal jurisdiction, describing the current situation as “unsatisfactory” and “indefensible”.

Judges in Britain can issue arrest warrants for war crimes suspects around the world under the Geneva Convention Act 1957, without any requirement to consult public prosecutors.

Speaking to reporters early Thursday, the Foreign Secretary said that “we cannot have a position where Israeli politicians feel they cannot visit this country and indeed not just Israel, but this could apply to many other nations as well. So this has to be put right. And that is well understood and agreed in the coalition government.”

A London court last year issued a warrant for the arrest of opposition leader Tzipi Livni over her role in Israel’s war in Gaza, launched at the end of 2008 when Livni was the foreign minister.

Livni reportedly cancelled a trip to the U.K. in December for fear of being arrested after the warrant was filed against her following an application by Palestinian activists.


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