Belgium to detain former Israeli minister over war crimes
A former Israeli foreign minister will be detained and questioned about war crimes if she lands in Brussels.
Published: January 22, 2017, 8:53 pm
A Belgian Justice Ministry official said ahead of the Israeli politician’s planned visit to the country, that she could be questioned.
On Thursday, Belgium’s Le Soir daily quoted a federal prosecutor confirming the intention by authorities to detain Tzipi Livni, after a complaint was filed against her by a local pro-Palestinian group in connection with Israel’s 2009 assault on Hamas in Gaza. Livni was foreign minister at the time.
According to Israel Radio correspondent Simon Aran, Livni has pulled out of the event, citing “personal reasons”. She was expected to visit the Belgian capital to meet Jewish leaders in the city but “cancelled three or four days before,” a spokesman for the event confirmed.
A spokesperson for the Brussels prosecutor’s office, told Le Soir that Livni is the subject of a 2010 complaint and that justice authorities “may use her arrival to try and advance the investigation”. One of the victims had Belgian citizenship and therefore Belgian authorities have the right to detain a suspect in its territory on crimes related to international law.
Livni was due in Brussels on Monday to attend a conference organized by the European Jewish Association on the security of Jewish communities, as well as a discussion at the European Parliament on countering attempts to boycott and isolate Israel.
Pro-Palestinian entities have repeatedly filed charges against Israeli officials, including former prime ministers Ehud Olmert and Ariel Sharon, in European countries because in Britain, authorities prevent Israelis from being detained by executive order.
“We reject this cynical abuse of the Belgian legal system to advance a political agenda,” Israel’s foreign ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon told AFP.
The alleged war crimes were committed during Operation Cast Lead, in which more than 1 400 Palestinians, mostly civilians, died between December 27, 2008 to January 18, 2009.
Israel justified the war by saying that hundreds of rockets were fired into Israeli-held territory.
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