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Entries in Israel (55)


Israel-Palestine: Foreign Minister Lieberman "No Peace for 10-20 Years"

avigdor-liebermanIsrael's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Sunday that he sees no chance for a comprehensive Israel-Palestine agreement in the next 10 to 20 years. He added:
"We think that if we make more concessions everything will work out. Even if we return the last grain of sand, and divide Jerusalem, and agree to all the demands, nothing will change and we will be in the same situation....Israel has proved more than any other country that it is ready for painful concessions....

We brought here a group of terrorists from Tunisia, we gave them guns and a government....We need to tell the world that there are no "magic solutions". We will not get to a permanent agreement in the coming decade, or the one after that. The Palestinians are even unable to reach a stable peace agreement among themselves."

On the matter of peace talks with Syria under Turkish mediation, Lieberman said:
"I am not picking a fight with anyone but unsuitable things were said by the prime minister of Turkey.

As long as I am foreign minister, and as long as Israel Beiteinu is the senior member of the coalition, there will not be Turkish mediation between us and Syria, but rather only direct talks, in Jerusalem and in Damascus."

Lieberman's comments come as Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu is expected to visit the Palestinian Embassy in Ankara, marking the first anniversary of the war in Gaza. During his visit, Davutoglu is expected to reiterate Ankara's emphasis on the urgent need to lift the blockade on Gaza.

Today on EA (28 December 2009)

TOWN CRIERIran: The situation remains tense today. As we follow events and consider long-term significance,  we have an interim assessment: has Iran reached a point of no return? This follows Scott Lucas' five-minute, five-point reaction, given last night to an Italian journalist.

Demonstrations continued well into the night: we've posted the most recent clips we've received. And we now have the video of President Obama's statement this evening on Iran.

Josh Shahryar, who also live-blogged Ashura, concludes that, for the first time in 200 days, Iranians decided "enough was enough". His overall assessment, "Iranians are not punchbags", offers provocative thoughts on non-violence and self-defence.

As always, all the news as we hear it, can be found in our live weblog.

Palestine: EA's Ali Yenidunya reviews Mahmoud Abbas' interview last week with the Wall Street Journal, where he promised "No Third Intifada".

Israel/Palestine: EA's Ali Yenidunya analyses the anniversary of the Gaza War and asks "Who Won" after operation Cast Lead?

Britain/Israel: The controversy over the arrest warrant for former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni continues: the head of Britain's Muslim Council has written to the British Government criticising Foreign Secretary Miliband's statement on the need to change British law to prevent any further warrants.


Palestine: Abbas "I Promise, No Third Intifada"

MahmoudAbbasLast week, Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas spoke with the Wall Street Journal's Charles Levinson about a wide range of issues including : the future of peace talks with Israel and the Obama Administration's role; Israeli settlements; boycotts; the possibility of a third Intifada; alleged CIA links to Palestinian "torture"; and the Goldstone Report on Gaza.

Abbas' message in the interview was that he was siding with a "wait and see" approach following his re-election as the head of the Palestinian Liberation Organization. Abbas indicated that, with the international community supporting the Palestinian Authority on the status of the settlements and Jerusalem, there was no need for a call to a third Intifada - although he would like to see more pressure from Washington on Tel Aviv.

The Anniversary of the Gaza War: Who “Won” after Operation Cast Lead?

The Full Transcript:

Q - A recent opinion poll shows that 57% of Palestinians support you over Hamas, which got just 37% support, a big change over polls from just two months ago. The Fatah and PLO leaderships have similarly asked you to remain in office. So can you start by explaining why you decided not to run for reelection?

A - The decision I took had a number of reasons.

The main reason is the stopping of the peace process and [Benjamin] Netanyahu's refusal to stop the settlements according to the road map and his refusal to recognize UN resolutions 242 and 338 as the framework of the negotiations. That is what was agreed in the road map. We negotiated with [Ehud] Olmert on this basis under the supervision of the Americans. Then Netanyahu came and rejected all this, even though the American government, as we heard from [Barack] Obama himself, said that Israel must stop all its building in the settlements including natural growth. The moratorium on settlements Netanyahu did exempts Jerusalem, and 3,000 residential units and public buildings. So for this reason we felt the horizon for the political process that we promised our people wasn't there.

There are also other reasons connected to the Palestinian reconciliation efforts. We signed this agreement and everybody agreed and then Hamas reneged on its agreement. They then asked to have the signing in Damascus, meaning Hamas was not against the contents of the agreement but it just wants to change the place of the signing from Egypt to Damascus, which we refused. The Goldstone issue I consider secondary, but it is also among the important issues. We felt there was an unjust campaign against us and the Palestinian Authority without any justification. For that I decided that I will not run in the elections. We are waiting for the new elections and someone other than me will run.

Q - Who do you want to run after you? The same poll showed that Marwan Barghouti enjoyed the support of 67% of Palestinians. Do you think Marwan could be a good leader of the Palestinian people or would you prefer to see someone else succeed you?

A - I don't have a candidate. It's not for me to tell the Palestinian people to elect a specific person. It's for the Palestinian people to decide. If Marwan runs, he is a man who has a good reputation and a good history of resistance, and it's not out of the question that he will run. But the matter is in the hands of the voters, not in my hand, and the door is open for anyone to run. I don't have a candidate.

Q - It appears Mr. Netanyahu has not accepted your conditions for resuming direct negotiations. As long as there are no talks, then what is your strategy for advancing the Palestinians toward statehood?

A - First, let me say that these aren't preconditions. We don't have conditions to go to negotiations. There is a road map binding on all and that all agreed to. There are obligations to Israel and obligations for the Palestinians. There is a part [of the road map] that talks about an independent Palestinian state and ending the occupation of '67. The Arab peace initiative also became a main part of the road map. It calls on Israel to withdraw from the Palestinian territories and 57 Arab and Islamic countries will normalize relations with Israel.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu says 'I call on Abbas to negotiate, but he has to understand that Jerusalem is the eternal capital of Israel, that's not up for discussion. The refugees -- there will be no talk about them at all. He has to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.' So who is putting conditions. I'm not putting them. He is putting conditions. Now the ball is in the international community's court and specifically in America's court. It should see how Europe addressed the problem. Europe stressed that the Palestinians' lands of 1967 are occupied lands, and east Jerusalem is occupied and at Annapolis all the states participating without exception called for stopping the expansion of settlements. The international community supports our position, and so it's up to them to move to apply international law and not to take a position just to take a position.

Q - So are you just waiting for the international community to step in and solve the problem for you or do you have your own strategy?

A - We have experience of direct negotiations with Israel. We had direct negotiations with Israel in January 1993, leading to the Oslo Agreement. Not a single other country had anything to do with that, not America, Russia, Europe or others. The Israeli administration at that time led by Yitzhak Rabin desired peace. If I see that Netanyahu is interested in peace, I would have no problem negotiating with him. The negotiations with Olmert were all direct between him and me. The Americans didn't get involved. I am not against direct negotiations, but on what basis do we go to negotiations. I am not putting conditions.

Q - So as long as you're not negotiating for a Palestinian state, what is your plan?

A - Today it's very important to understand the relations between us and the Israelis are continuing with all the arms of the Israeli government without exception, defense, security, water, health. With all the ministries, without exception, the contacts are ongoing. The only thing that isn't continuing are the political negotiations. We are now waiting for what is the American position. [George] Mitchell will come in the beginning of next month and we will see what will happen. We are waiting for the Quartet meeting in Moscow and we will see what comes out of that. There is political movement, but the results of this haven't yet come out.

We are open to all possibilities. Any party that wants to play a role in the peace process we are willing to hear them out. And then we'll decide. But we want someone to move. When the Americans talk about indirect negotiations between us and the Israelis, we want to know what it is they mean exactly. I've heard this talk about indirect negotations, but until I hear something concrete from the American side, I can't judge.

Q - You have criticized the Obama administration's role in the peace process recently. What is your opinion of the role Obama has played in the peace process thus far?

A - We still have hope that Obama can play a role in the political process. Maybe we don't agree with him on the recent issue that we come to negotiations on the basis of the Israeli moratorium. We don't agree with that. But that doesn't mean we have lost hope in the American administration or President Obama. We are still seeing that President Obama can do something.

Q - Do you stand by the comments you made to a South American newspaper during your visit there recently that President Obama has done nothing for Mideast Peace?

A - I didn't say that. What I said was that what has happened we are not agreeing with, but he's still in the first year of his presidency and we have to wait and judge him after. The difference between him and past U.S. presidents is that from the beginning of his term he started to take up the peace process and that's a positive sign. We will not judge him from the beginning and say forget it, he's hopeless.

Q - What do you want from Obama?

A - I want him to put the peace process on the track. Until now, I don't think they have succeeded. But the American administration says establishing a Palestinian state is an American strategic interest and also at the same time it will protect Israel. They have to convince the two sides to solve this. They have to come and say this is the end game and pressure the Israeli government to accept it. Why don't they pressure the Israeli government. The Israeli government sometimes needs someone to come and help it see its own interests and the interests of its people.

Q - How?

A - I want him to declare the framework for negotiations and to ask Israel to stop the settlements along the lines of what I presented to the Israeli Minister of Defense. I told the Israeli Minister of Defense, Ehud Barak, that he can do an undeclared but total moratorium for five months without announcing it, without publicity, just tell the Americans. But it must be a total freeze that includes East Jerusalem.

Q - Obama tried to ask the Israelis for a complete freeze…

A - …and he couldn't do that. He needs to be fair, meaning, based on international law ask both sides to implement their obligations. I'll give you an example. When we began to implement the road map they were always asking me, do this, do that, do this. We have done everything that was required of us under the first stage of the road map. We said to the Americans, now tell the Israelis to do their parts. And they said we will ask them. And what happened in the end is we did everything that was asked of us and the Israelis didn't do a single thing. As long as something clear is asked of me and I did it, then America should now ask Israel to do its part. That hasn't happened and that's why I'm not running for reelection.

Q - And you're serious about this. No way you're going to reconsider?

A - This is, God willing, very serious.

Q - And if there are no elections, will you remain in power or will you resign?

A - This is an important point. I said that I will not run in the elections. I will exert all possible efforts to make sure there are elections. In the Egyptian brokered accord there is total agreement with all the factions that there should be elections on June 28. If tomorrow, Hamas signs this agreement, then there will be elections on June 28. There is no problem with holding elections. If there is no hope for any sort of elections, then I have other options. What are those other options? I'm not talking about them yet.

Q - Many people are talking about the possibility of a third intifada erupting. Is this just talk, or is this a real possibility and what would have to happen for this to happen?

A - I will not allow a new intifada. As long as I'm in office, I will not allow anybody to start a new intifada. Never never. But if I leave, it's no longer my responsibility and I can't make any guarantees. It could happen. It's not my business to follow up. I promise and I can do. And I already promised and I did during the invasion of Gaza. At that time everybody asked me to go to a third intifada, but I prevented anybody from doing it.

The evidence is that in three years it hasn't happened. The evidence is that every day there are provocations and there hasn't been a violent response. So I have control of matters and I am confident that I can control things as long as I'm in office.

Q - This means stepping down carries a big responsibility with it, that by stepping down you could be responsible for a new round of violence.

A - It could happen. It will pain me. I will be very angry if something happens in the future because it's not the proper act to be done by the Palestinian people. But at that time it's not my responsibility. I am responsible as long as I am in office. The moment I leave it's not my responsibility.

Q - You said this isn't proper for the Palestinian people? Why are you against violence?

A - Since the 1970s, I believed in peace, and I worked for peace and for the relations and the contacts between the Palestinians and the Israelis. Until now I am convinced that peace is the only choice for both sides, for the Palestinians and the Israelis. The other choice is destructive.

From the first day of the intifada I said I am against this intifada. From the first day and I didn't change my mind. When I ran in the elections I said publicly, I am against the armed intifada, I am against the futile rockets and I am for peace. If you want to elect me, okay, if you don't, it doesn't matter.

Q - At the PLO conference last week and again tonight you seem more comfortable, more relaxed.

A - Now I am relaxed. I know what I will do. I told everybody about my intentions. And now I am relaxed.

Q - We appear to be close to a prisoner swap deal for Gilad Shalit. How will this deal impact the domestic Palestinian political stage?

A - Shalit, the most famous soldier around the world. I am for this deal. We have to get rid of this fast. This man should return back to his family and at the same time at least 1,000 prisoners will be released and come back to their families. It's not important whether Hamas concluded this deal or anybody else. At the end the result is there are some people who will go back to their families and this deal will give hope to the others to be released. I don't think it will have a big effect on the Palestinian political stage. In the Palestinian society everybody will be happy with it. Maybe it will give Hamas some popularity. For me that doesn't matter. Let them get whatever they want to get. But at the end some people will be happy with this deal.

Q - There have been a number of reports lately, from human rights groups, and even from the Palestinian Authority's Ministry of Interior, alleging that prisoners in Palestinian custody have been mistreated or tortured, and some have even died as a result. Another report has alleged the CIA is connected to these government bodies allegedly responsible for this. Is there truth to these complaints? What is the CIA's exact relationship to the Palestinian intelligence apparatus?

A - We have no relationship with the CIA at all. We have a relationship with the State Department. The State Department sends us some Americans to train and rebuild the Palestinian security apparatuses. That's it. There is not any kind of cooperation with the CIA. We have no connection to the CIA. There is U.S. training of our forces. We don't deny that at all. But not just American. Russia, and Jordan and France and many countries help in training us. And Dayton's team is from a number of countries, not just America. America gives us nothing but training. If we want weapons we have to buy it or bring it as grants from other countries to Jordan and we keep it in Jordan until we have the permission from the Israeli side to import it. If we do not have this permission we cannot bring even one single bullet. In other words, we are not smuggling anything.

Q - What is the message you want to direct to the Israeli people?

A - If we reach a final solution, we will drop all kinds of other demands. The second point is, there will be a third party on our territories agreed upon by the Israelis and the Palestinians. From where? Maybe NATO, the Americans, the Europeans, whatever they want. They will be there for a while to preserve the borders and keep it under control so the Israelis will be safe.

Beside that, they tried us and we are working very hard to preserve our own security and also to prevent anybody from committing any acts against the Israelis. On the other hand, every day there is an invasion in one of our cities from the Israeli army and from the settlers themselves. Last time they burned a mosque in one of our villages. Every day they go to Jerusalem either to occupy some of our houses or to demolish houses. There is no cooperation between the Israelis and us in this area. They do not help us.

We are saying to the Israelis: We are serious in building peace with you, in building a Palestinian state that lives side by side with Israel on the '67 borders in peace and stability. And we also, through the Arab peace initiative, will bring 57 Arab and Islamic countries to recognize you. I think this is an historic opportunity for the Israeli people to live in peace. I know that 70 percent of the Israeli population are for peace, but if your government doesn't want peace, nobody knows what will happen, and how the situation will get worse. And we don't want this. This is an opportunity to be seized. This is my message for the Israeli people.

Q - What do you want to say in response to those who criticized you for agreeing to delay a vote on the Goldstone report?

A - Goldstone, when he came to investigate, Hamas attacked him, saying he was a Zionist Jew and that he was biased against the Palestinian people. We welcomed him because we wanted the world to know who attacked the Palestinian people so they could be held accountable. Goldstone put out a 575-page report and it went to Geneva to the human rights council and the matter was discussed there. The council didn't reach a decision so it was decided to refer it to the next session, so I agreed. And the world turned upside down saying I had sold the Palestinian cause, and the world and the media, and the satellite channels all attacked us. Even the Israelis attacked us. After these attacks, I decided to return the matter to the human rights council and that's what I did. Now it is at the general assembly. The accusation that I am the one who alone agreed to delay it is not true.

Q - You have encouraged recently Palestinians to boycott products made in the settlements, but many of your Palestinian critics would like to see you go further in leading a non-violent resistance movement against Israel. Do you support those who are calling for a broader boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel?

A - This is our right to boycott the settlements. The settlements are taking our land and selling the products to the world so we ask the world not to buy these products. These are our rights. The people of Bilin and Nilin go out and protest peacefully against the wall. I am with any peaceful protest that expresses the opinion of the people. I support this. But I am against the bullets and the rockets. We are asking every day the European countries and the world to stop buying these products and not to buy these products. But we never said boycott Israel. We never boycotted Israel. We have contacts with them every day. We buy from them electricity, water, and even the air. We buy air! They sell us air! Truly, the air. Cell phone frequencies. And they haggle with us over the air. 'We'll give 3.1 of air' they say, and we say 'no we want 3.8,' and they say 'no way you'll get .8 of air.' AIR!

Q - People say you aren't prepared to make concessions for peace and they say that if you were, you wouldn't have rejected the Olmert peace offer. Is this true?

A - Never. Not true. We were negotiating, and remained negotiating until the last day of the Bush administration. Condoleezza Rice suggested we meet again on January 3 in Washington to seize the last chance, and we agreed to that, but in that time, there was the attack on Gaza, and still I agreed to go, but the Israeli administration said it can't do it in these circumstances.

Q - Do you think Benjamin Netanyahu wants to make peace with you?
I can't say Netanyahu doesn't want peace, I can't see what's inside him, but his policy suggests he doesn't. We have to keep hope. If we say there is no hope then we put our people in a corner. I'm prepared to wait.

Q - If and when you step down as president, how do you think people will remember your term? What accomplishments are you proud of, and what do you regret not having accomplished?

A - The people will decide what I did and what I didn't do. They will decide if I succeeded or if I failed. I am proud of my role in the Oslo accords and for sticking to peace and maintaining law and order in the West Bank. I am proud the economy is developing, and the social situation is improving. I reached an agreement to reconcile with Hamas but Hamas backed out. I did all that I can do. What I couldn't do is conclude a peace treaty with the Israelis. But that's not due to my mistake. Maybe it's the other side's mistake. I want people to know that I have held to the core values the PLO adopted in 1988 and never compromised them. I never conceded on '67 borders, or on East Jerusalem as the capital, and have always insisted on the rights of refugees, and that the problem be solved in accordance with the Arab peace initaitve. But, peace with Israel. I couldn't reach this. It's not my fault.

The Anniversary of the Gaza War: Who "Won" after Operation Cast Lead?

israel-palestine-war-maze-michele-roohaniIsraeli Defense Forces, commanded by the government of Ehud Olmert, started Operation Cast Lead on 27 December 2008. The operation took the lives of 1,400 Palestinians, including many civilians, and of 13 Israelis.

The officially-stated aim was to halt rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip. “For the first time in years, the children of southern Israel can grow up without the constant fear of an incoming rocket and running to the nearest bomb shelter," Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev asserted on Sunday. So, the mission was “accomplished“ since there was no rockets coming over children in playgrounds.

Was it?

In a televised speech, the Hamas Prime Minister in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh said, "Gaza was victorious. Yes, Gaza was victorious with its steadfastness, its firmness and strength of faith.”

Was it?

On Sunday, about 3,000 people milled around a square in the northern Gaza town of Jebaliya,according to The Jerusalem Post. "I wish they had commemorated the war by opening a factory. That would have been better than this," said Gaza resident Rami Mohammed, 30.

This line set out the reaction of Gazans that Hamas has contributed heavily to their impoverishment, through its uncompromising position both against the Palestinian Authority and against Israel. In that sense, neither Hamas nor Gaza has been victorious.

On the other hand, the new government of Israel has showed no progress in its supposed aim of ameliorating the deteriorating political, social, and economic situation in Gaza. Instead of searching for dialogue to contribute to the $4.5 billion international reconstruction project, Israel completely closed the border. Arguably, leaving people in a cage without sufficient medicine and food and with inadequate and unsanitary water supplies; cutting interaction with the outside world, is a worse crime than directly bombing civilians during Operation Cast Lead. At the end of the day, it is Israel under heavy criticism from around the world. Is that victory?

On Sunday, United Nations Secretary General Ban ki-Moon went beyond notions of victory. He said that was "deeply concerned that neither the issues that led to this conflict nor its worrying aftermath are being addressed", and he added that Gazans were being denied "basic human rights". Ban urged Israel to end its "unacceptable and counterproductive blockade".

Maybe a most significant reaction, however, is that of Khadija Omari, 45, whose brother Said Jaber, 32, was killed in the conflict:
The war made us aware of how much the Jews hate us. But we also hate the Jews even more. Now the children beg us to fight them, that's what the war taught us.

Britain-Israel: Muslim Council Challenges Government in "Livni Arrest Warrant" Case

tzipi_livniThe Muslim Council of Britain's Secretary-General Muhammad Abdul Bari has written to Foreign Minister David Miliband, criticising his statement on the need to change British law to prevent another arrest warrant being issued - thereby preventing an Israeli official from visiting Britain.

Bari stated that Miliband's proposal, prompted by the recent arrest warrant for Israel's former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, would not only undermines judicial independence, but be an unjustified departure from the centuries-old legal traditions of Britain. It would damage respect for international law; all of which would, in the end, undermining Britain's reputation at home and abroad:

Israel-Palestine: Hamas “Provided Evidence” for Arrest Warrant for Livni
Israel and Britain: The Reaction to the Livni Arrest Warrant

Dear Mr Miliband,

I am writing to express the deep disappointment and grave concern of the Muslim Council of Britain (the MCB) at your views with regard to the warrant which a magistrate had lawfully issued for the arrest of the former Israeli foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, for suspected war crimes. As is well known the arrest did not take place and the warrant was withdrawn.

It appears that following expression of strong disapproval and anger by the Israeli government and representations by the Jewish Leadership Council you have shown willingness to review and remove the powers of magistrates in the UK to issue warrants of arrest against alleged Israeli war criminals.

As you must surely know the cornerstone of our much cherished legal system is respect for the rule of law. The separation of powers and the independence of the judiciary flow from it. It seems to us that you are allowing political exigency to undermine and erode fundamental legal traditions and conventions which are centuries old and have served our society well.

Your motivation to review and reconsider the current process for bringing war criminals to justice if found within our jurisdiction is political as well as manifestly partisan. Law in our legal system is the same for all – friend or foe. Your proposed step will treat “political friends” differently and indeed more favourably than those who may face same allegations but for whom a different process will apply. This cannot be right and will give rise to well founded perception of double standards in law enforcement.

We note that in your commitment to review and revise the process for issue of warrants by courts you have taken account of and been persuaded by the legal opinion of David Pannick QC. It is quite interesting that you have not chosen to seek views of others before making the commitment. Whilst we respect the capacity and standing of David Pannick QC to give legal advice, we do not accept that he is the only person in the legal fraternity to have expertise on matters of this kind. The matter is inherently very sensitive and it is contaminated by a perception of bias in choosing to rely solely on him. Such a major and far-reaching change in legal policy and process should not, we contend, be undertaken without due public consultation. We regret to have to say that the process that the government appears to have chosen to follow on this issue is fundamentally flawed.

It is our considered view that the change contemplated by you is such that it not only undermines judicial independence but also makes a wholly unjustified departure from the centuries old legal traditions of our country. The office of Magistracy is centuries old and people who hold such office are chosen irrespective of their political or other background and solely on the basis that they have the ability to apply the law without fear or favour. An appraisal of how their power to enforce international law has been exercised when called upon to do so will demonstrate that they have done so with competence and fairness.

Your proposed change sends out a clear signal that the government wants the courts to be subservient to political considerations. After all, the Attorney General is a political appointee and holds office, strictly speaking, at the pleasure of the Prime Minister.

The change that you propose also has the serious potential of severely reducing respect for international law and the treaties that give international jurisdiction for the pursuit of alleged war criminals. Commission of war crimes is an international crime as is engagement in torture. It is the clearly expressed wish of the international community as articulated in international law that people suspected of such crimes should be tried wherever they are found. We believe that the change that you propose may exempt some accused from prosecution and this will have a gravely adverse impact on the reputation of our country both at home as well as abroad.

You appear to be committing the government to the path of selective compliance with the enforcement of international law. This is surely not in the best interests of our country as it will add a further dimension to the double standards that our government is seen to have in relation to the politics of the Middle East.

Whilst we respect your quest to advance the prospects for peace in the Middle East, justice and fairness is not served by being or by being seen to be partisan and compliant to demands made by one major player in the conflict.

May we respectfully remind you that in your address at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies in May this year on ‘Building coalitions, winning consent’, you said, ‘To broaden the coalition and win consent, we need to understand the Muslim world better, or we will risk undermining the force of our own argument... we need to hold fast to our own values and support those who seek to apply them, or we will be guilty of hypocrisy...'.

It is hard to imagine how we could escape the charge of hypocrisy from those all too eager to point out our vacillation on allowing the law to take its course in the case of those suspected of committing war crimes.

We suggest that to understand the Muslim world better is to be aware of the deeply held view that our approach to states in the region is unequal and that our commitment to the observance of international law is ambivalent. Any change to the current procedures on universal jurisdiction and the right of magistrates to issue a warrant will only reinforce this view, with detrimental consequences.

The Prevent programme and your own department’s involvement in it through the ‘Bringing Foreign Policy Back Home’ project is built on the foundations of respecting the rule of law and the pillars of a democratic society. In deliberating over the recent controversy and prevaricating on upholding the rule of law, we run the risk of strengthening the claims of those who reject our democratic processes and view our commitment to law, domestic and international, as utilitarian and malleable.

We urge you to consider the grave consequences of interfering with established legal procedures and jeopardising our reputation at home and abroad.

I am copying this letter to the Minister for Justice, the Right Honourable Lord Chancellor and the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government as your expressed views on this matter impact on their areas responsibilities in the government.

Yours sincerely,

Muhammad Abdul Bari
Secretary General