Major General (Res.) Doron Almog finally appeared in London last week, but only via satellite.
Almog was addressing a conference titled "Ending Impunity or Decreasing Accountability: Averting Abuse of Universal Jurisdiction", which was co-hosted by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, the Henry Jackson Society and the Legacy Heritage Fund.
The conference brought together experts from across three continents to discuss Universal Jurisdiction and its implications. In attendance were senior British politicians from both the House of Commons and the House of Lords, British Foreign Office officials, NGO's and many other officials.
Doron Almog spoke passionately about the case where an arrest warrant was served against him in London so he chose to stay on the plane and return to Israel. Almog spoke of the fact that he was in the UK at the time to raise money for a camp for autistic children which he dedicated to the memory of his son who died prematurely from autism.
"I arrived in London because I wanted to build a better future for the weakest sectors in society," Almog related.
The retired former southern commander in the IDF explained ironically that the Israeli Army bases its military law on the British mandate system. He said that all IDF soldiers are taught a high respect for international law and that the army has legal officers integrated at all levels of the army hierarchy.
'Like eating dessert before your main meal'
Almog also implicated Israeli groups in his attempted arrest. "Groups like Yesh Gvul conspired with groups in London to bypass the Israeli legal system," Almog said.
To show that the IDF regularly deferred to the judicial system, Almog made a startling disclosure. Almog said that while he was in command, he requested that the house subsequently used to tunnel from Gaza into Israel to kidnap Gilad Shalit be demolished. He said the legal echelons turned down his request.
Former Director of the International Department of the Israel Ministry of Justice Irit Kohn spoke about how Universal Jurisdiction is very controversial amongst lawyers and legal experts. Kahn also related how certain NGO's have utilized the law to further their political agenda. "We know that many are funded by Palestinians," Kohn said.
Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs President Dore Gold spoke about Universal Jurisdiction creating enormous dilemmas. Gold said, "The law has to differentiate between those who are war criminals and those who combat terrorism."
Professor Gregory Gordon, Director of the Center for Human Rights and Genocide Studies at the University of North Dakota, called for Universal Jurisdiction to be reassessed. Gordon called on the adoption of the 'Princeton Principles' to be used as a basis for a new type of Universal Jurisdiction.
Finally, Professor Eugence Kontorovich dealt with the issue of piracy and Universal Jurisdiction. Kontorovich described how Universal Jurisdiction was originally created to deal solely with piracy.
"For 400 years, piracy was the only crime under Universal Jurisdiction," Professor Kontorovich said. He continued by stating that the international community has no stomach to "combat this primitive barbarity."
Ironically, the UK, the very nation which applied Universal Jurisdiction against Almog has told its navy not to arrest any pirates for fear of them requesting asylum once captured.
Piracy, the original cause of Universal Jurisdiction has to be addressed before the more "sexy" causes like Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity, said Kontorovich. The professor described it was like eating your dessert before your main meal.