The fight against Israeli “impunity”

March 11, 2010

How universal jurisdiction is used as a tool to bring to court Israeli leaders accused of war crimes

This week, the European Union’s Parliament passed a resolution endorsing the implementation of the recommendations of the Goldstone Report, which investigated war crimes in the attack on Gaza last year. While the motion was received with support from many NGOs, such as the Women’s Peace Coalition, it did not indicate specific actions the EU will actually take. The same has been true for the UN’s process as members of the Security Council said they would veto the report. Many are therefore taking it in their own hands to hold Israeli leaders accountable for alleged war crimes. The legal tool they’re using is called universal jurisdiction and refers to the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 that said countries must be able to prosecute anyone who commits grave crimes. The Real News’ Lia Tarachansky investigates what universal jurisdiction is, how it is used, and how Israel is fighting against it.

Daniel Machover is a partner at the British legal firm Hickman & Rose Solicitors in London and is their Head of Civil Litigation. He was the Co-Founder of Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights in 1988 and works with Israeli and Palestinian lawyers and NGOs on legal remedies for Palestinians. Working for mutual clients of the Gaza-based Palestinian Center for Human Rights, he and his colleagues, particularly Kate Maynard, have been involved in the efforts to arrest suspected Israeli war criminals in the UK and beyond, notably General Doron Almog in September 2005, but also (working with legal teams in several countries) Moshe Ya’alon (New Zealand, December 2006), Ami Ayalon (Netherlands, May 2008) and Ehud Barak and others (Spain, June 2008 on-going).

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