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Why UK must not give in to Israel's demands

Published 21/12/2009

Israel's denunciation of the arrest warrant for Tzipi Livni ('Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu condemns British for Livni arrest warrant', December 16) is misplaced.

To argue that Ms Livni be shielded from justice and to threaten to downgrade diplomatic relations with Britain is nothing less than an attempt to undermine the key principle of universal jurisdiction.

More worrying still is Foreign Secretary David Milliband's announcement that London was "looking urgently" at ways in which the "UK system might be changed in order to avoid this sort of situation arising again".

Such a move would risk the credibility of the UK in being involved with attempts to bring to justice human rights abusers anywhere in the world.

How, for example, can the UK Government call for those responsible for crimes in Darfur to be brought to justice but meanwhile present a get-out-of-jail-free card to others it deems 'friends'?

Is it not this corrosive double standard that threatens the fundamental principle that justice must be at all times impartial?

The Belfast Telegraph's own reporting of the conflict in Gaza and southern Israel - notably Israel's indiscriminate use of white phosphorus munitions - underlines the need for full accountability for war crimes committed during this brutal conflict.

In its short-sighted rush to protect an ally, the UK Government is undermining the wider fight for international justice on which millions around the world depend.

PATRICK CORRIGAN

Amnesty International

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