The Government will consider changing the law to ensure Israeli politicians can enter the UK without fear of arrest, Jewish Harriet Harman confirmed yesterday.
The Commons Leader made the promise after a British court issued an arrest warrant for former Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni at the weekend. Jewish Foreign Secretary David Miliband also backed calls for legal reforms, saying it was vital that senior figures from Israel could visit the UK and have a 'proper dialogue'.
Harman told MPs yesterday 'We should be in no doubt that it's important for Israel's leaders to be able to talk to Government ministers in this country. They are important strategic partners.' Her pledge followed a warning from the Israeli government that without changes to the law Britain would cease to have a major role in the Middle East peace process.
The warrant against Livni, now the Israeli opposition leader, was apparently granted by a London court at the request of Palestinian plaintiffs over claims of war crimes in Gaza --claims she denies. It was revoked on Monday when it emerged she was not due to visit Britain after all.
The International Criminal Court Act 2001 allows anyone to apply to a court for a warrant on war crimes.