Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Ángel Moratinos telephoned his Israeli counterpart Tzipi Livni
on Friday, and promised her that the Spanish government would work to change the legislation and limit the courts' jurisdiction in order to prevent charges against Israeli security officials.
On Thursday, a Spanish court granted a petition
by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, asking that six Israeli security officials and former Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer be charged with alleged "crimes against humanity" for their involvement in the 2002 assassination of Hamas
operative Salah Shehade.
Fourteen civilians were killed in the incident and about 100 more were injured.
Former Israel Air Force and Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Dan Halutz, Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter, former IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Yaalon, former GOC Southern Command Doron Almog, former National Security Council head Giora Eiland and Brigadier-General (Res.) Mike Herzog have also been named as persons on interest in the case.
Moratinos told Livni that his government was also working to solve the current lawsuit opposite Israeli judicial officials.
The foreign minister told her Spanish counterpart, "This is very important news for the Israeli public. Unfortunately, the legal systems in the free world are used by parties with interest who have no connection whatsoever to the rule of law or the values of the free world.
"It's a good thing that the Spanish government has decided to stop this phenomenon. Israel
will continue to work with other governments in the world in a bid to stop similar groundless prosecutions."
The Justice Ministry on Thursday sent to the Spanish authorities a large number of documents and information detailing the legal proceedings taken by Israel in the Shehade affair, following a Spanish request.
According to sources in the Justice Ministry, the preparation of the documents required a lot of work and they were sent to Spain as planned beforehand and not in response to the lawsuit.
A senior Justice Ministry official told Ynet that the legal proceedings, which are detailed on hundreds of pages, include the High Court ruling on Shehade. Unfortunately the Spanish court, the official said, did not wait for Israel's response.
The official said the ministry was considering sending an official to Spain in order to appeal the lawsuit. "There are a few days in which this can be done and Israel will not sit idly by during this time," he said.
However, most of the work is being performed on the diplomatic level at the moment. Justice Ministry sources expressed their hope that the Spanish judge's decision would be canceled following diplomatic and political pressure.
Aviad Glickman contributed to this report