The British government has granted diplomatic immunity to Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni in a controversial move aimed at preventing her potential war crimes-related arrest during an upcoming visit to the UK.
In 2009, a British court issued an arrest warrant for Livni on the grounds that she had been a member of the Israeli cabinet that organized the slaughter of more than 1,400 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip between December 2008 and January 2009. The Israeli official was forced to cancel a visit to the UK that year.
In a statement, Britain’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) said it has given “special mission” status to Livni, who will travel to London later this week, the British daily the Guardian reported on Tuesday.
“Since the visit meets all the essential elements for a special mission, and for avoidance of any doubt on the matter, the FCO has confirmed consent to the visit as a special mission,” the statement read.
Raji Sourani, the director of the Gaza-based Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), criticized the British government’s move as a political act that endorses “the ‘rule of the jungle’ rather than the ‘rule of law.’”
Livni is set to have a public speech at a meeting of the UK Jewish National Fund, which will be held at a secret central London venue on May 15.
The Israeli official had been given a rare diplomatic passport by the UK government for another visit, in 2011, to protect her from a risk of arrest and prosecution.