Egyptian experts: War crimes warrant goes half way

Egyptian legal experts and politicians criticized the decision by the Westminster Court to withdraw the arrest warrant it issued Monday against former Israeli Prime Minister Tzipi Livni. The London court had charged the Israeli leader with war crimes for her role in the December 2008/January 2009 war on Gaza.

The court withdrew the warrant after learning that Livni was not in England, which experts say is evidence that the court was not serious about arresting the former prime minister. They stressed that the warrant should remain outstanding until Livni’s next visit to the United Kingdom.

Omar Gad, an expert in Palestinian-Israeli affairs, said that issuing the warrant in Britain makes it hard for the Arab states to benefit from it, because these measures are bound to certain countries whose laws permit the detention and litigation of foreign leaders for war crimes, such as Belgium, Spain, and Britain.

Gad explained that common citizens have the right to take legal action against Israeli leaders, and international rights organizations can also file criminal charges against them. Gad also said that a warrant should remain valid once issued.

Atef el-Banna, a professor of constitutional law, agreed with Gad. El-Banna said that the lack of European commitment to the Palestinian cause impedes action against Israeli war criminals. "The door is open for anyone who desires to raise a case, but the decision will be only their own," he said. "If they really care for human rights, why didn’t they postpone the warrant until Livni comes back and then arrest her?"

Amr el-Choubaki, expert at al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, said that the warrant has opened a new path for the Arab and Israeli conflict, different from the typical pattern of "denunciation, crying, and wailing." El-Shobaky stressed that Arab rights groups should build on that decision and lobby to bring war criminals to justice. He believed that the decision will stir a strong reaction by Israelis.

Gamal Zahran, a professor of political science, said that the warrant encourages Arabs to use new techniques to take on Israeli arrogance.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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