Ben-Eliezer among seven officials prosecuted in Spain
Photo: Alex Kolomoisky

Israeli officials forming united front against Spanish lawsuit

Representatives of seven security officials facing prosecution in Madrid for 'crimes against humanity' to meet with deputy state prosecutor in bid to cause Spanish judge to reconsider decision to approve lawsuit

Israel prepares to deal with Spanish lawsuit against officials: The seven Israeli security officials facing prosecution in Spain for "crimes against humanity" were summoned to a meeting Monday afternoon at the office of Deputy State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan, in order to form a united stance which will be submitted to the Spanish judge who approved the lawsuit, Ynet has learned.


The meeting is aimed at stopping the lawsuit which has damaged the diplomatic relations between Israel and Spain.


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.


Officials advised on how to act

During Monday's meeting, a joint stance will be formed for all seven officials – some of whom have already said they would send their representatives to the discussion. The stance will be delivered to the judge through the Spanish Foreign and Justice ministries.


Israeli legal officials have estimated that this would allow the judge to reconsider his decision to approve the lawsuit.


The seven officials have held telephone consultations on the Spanish lawsuit with senior officials at the State Prosecutor's Office, who have advised them on how to act in regards to the lawsuit.


Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni spoke to her Spanish counterpart, Miguel Ángel Moratinos, last week and expressed her discontent with the Spanish judge's decision.


A day later, Moratinos announced that the Spanish government would work to change the legislation and limit the courts' jurisdiction in order to prevent charges against Israeli security officials.


Foreign Ministry officials said that based on Livni's conversation with Moratinos there was some hope that the Israeli interest could be promoted in the lawsuit. According to estimates, however, the lawsuit will not be stopped.


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.


Ministry sources said they believe the material Israel has already delivered to Spain contains the necessary evidence, and they expect the lawsuit to be dropped.


"The material was already due to be sent, so it didn't take long to finish putting it together and sending it shortly after Spain's announcement. We believe that if to begin with they had waited a bit longer to receive the material, the Spanish judge wouldn't have decided differently," said the senior officials.


Aviad Glickman contributed to this report


פרסום ראשון: 02.02.09, 14:28
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