Israel’s Livni Skips Belgium Trip Amid Threat of Arrest

Tzipi LivniTzipi Livni

Israel’s former foreign minister cancelled a trip to Brussels after Belgian prosecutors confirmed they wanted to question her over war crimes allegations.

Tzipi Livni was expected to meet Jewish leaders in the city on Monday, but cancelled ahead of time, Aljazeera reported.

A spokesman for the event said Livni cancelled for “personal reasons” but local newspaper Le Soir said prosecutors had been hoping to question her over allegations of war crimes in the 2008-9 Israeli war in Gaza, when she was foreign minister.

“We wanted to take advantage of her visit to try to advance the investigation,” a spokesman for Belgium’s federal prosecutor, Thierry Werts, told AFP. Livni is named along with other political and military leaders in a complaint filed in June 2010 over alleged crimes committed during the Gaza war.

More than 1,400 Palestinians, mostly civilians, died during the Israeli offensive between December 27, 2008, and January 18, 2009.

Belgian authorities have the right to detain a suspect in its territory on crimes related to international law, as one of the victims had Belgian citizenship.

The Belgian federal prosecutor’s office believes Livni, now a member of parliament and opposition leader, is not protected by immunity.  The Belgian-Palestinian Association supporting the complaint said in a statement it wanted to hold Livni responsible for her role in the war, as well as Ehud Olmert and Ehud Barak, then prime minister and minister of defense.

In December 2009, Livni cancelled a visit to London after being informed that she was the subject of an arrest warrant issued by a UK court over her role in the same war.

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