The British government on Thursday submitted a proposal calling to amend its universal jurisdiction law, which will effectively prevent private individuals from filing lawsuits against foreign leaders.
If approved, the law will spare Israeli politicians and high-ranking IDF officers war crimes arrest warrants upon their arrival in the UK.
"Our commitment to our international obligations and to ensuring that there is no impunity for those accused of crimes of universal jurisdiction is unwavering, "Justice Secretary Ken Clarke said Thursday.
"It is important, however, that universal jurisdiction cases should be proceeded with in this country only on the basis of solid evidence that is likely to lead to a successful prosecution, otherwise there is a risk of damaging our ability to help in conflict resolution or to pursue a coherent foreign policy," he said.
"The Government has concluded, after careful consideration, that it would be appropriate to require the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions before an arrest warrant can be issued to a private prosecutor in respect of an offence of universal jurisdiction."
Clarke added that "Britain is unable to play a leading role in the diplomatic world if foreign politicians cannot visit this country without fear of arrest.”
Livni: Important step in right direction
Israeli Ambassador to London Ron Prosor welcomed the proposal, saying it would prevent the manipulation of the British judicial system for political purposes. "We are convinced that this initiative will help Britain play a key role in the Mideast peace process, something it has not been able to do up to this point."
About three months ago Opposition leader Tzipi Livni, who was among a number of Israelis who were forced to cancel their scheduled visits to the UK due to arrest warrants issued against them over alleged war crimes committed during the war in Gaza, said, "The British justice system has been abused by cynical elements."
Upon hearing of Clarke's announcement, Livni said Thursday, "This amendment will bring an end to the horrible and twisted (law) that allows individual political activists to cynically take advantage of the legal system to fight the international struggle against terror."
"The free world must differentiate between real war criminals who must be brought to justice and those who fight terrorism against civilians, including the officers and soldiers of the IDF. This is an important step in the right direction," she added.