Switzerland considers war crimes complaint against Tzipi Livni

Attorney general’s office says request by pro-Palestinian group over 2008-9 Gaza war ‘is presently being studied’

Zionist Union MK Tzipi Livni at a faction meeting in the Knesset on January 16, 2017. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Zionist Union MK Tzipi Livni at a faction meeting in the Knesset on January 16, 2017. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Switzerland’s attorney general’s office on Wednesday said the country is weighing whether to pursue a war crimes complaint filed against former minister Tzipi Livni over her role in the 2008-2009 Gaza war.

“[The legal] request is presently being studied,” the attorney general’s office told Swiss news site Swissinfo.

Quoting the French-language Swiss daily Les Temps, Swissinfo said that the suit was filed Monday by the pro-Palestinian Swiss organization Urgence against Livni, who served as foreign minister during the three-week long conflict between Israel and the Hamas terror group, a war known in Israel as Operation Cast Lead.

The complaint against Livni was submitted after she visited the Swiss city of Lugano on Sunday to speak at an event arranged by the Swiss-Israel Association.

Swiss NGO Trial International hailed Urgence’s decision to file the complaint, saying it would enable Swiss authorities to take legal action against Livni if she returns to the country.

“Switzerland has an obligation to work on cases of alleged war crimes if the suspect steps on Swiss territory. If Switzerland opens an investigation, it is in line with Swiss law, especially given the alleged crimes committed during Operation Cast Lead,” a representative for the group told Swissinfo.

Israeli tanks at the staging ground outside Gaza on December 29, 2008, the third day of Operation Cast Lead (Photo credit: IDF Spokesperson/ Flash 90)
Israeli tanks at a staging ground outside Gaza during Operation Cast Lead, December 29, 2008. (IDF Spokesperson/Flash90)

Livni has been the target of groups attempting to bring war crimes charges against Israeli leaders over Operation Cast Lead in a number of European countries.

In January, Livni canceled a trip to Brussels when Belgian prosecutors planned to question her over allegations of war crimes.

“We wanted to take advantage of her visit to try to advance the investigation,” a spokesman for Belgium’s federal prosecutor Thierry Werts said.

A spokesman for the event Livni was set to attend said she canceled her visit to Brussels for “personal reasons.”

Livni, who is now a member of Knesset in the center-left Zionist Union faction, is named along with other Israeli political and military leaders in a complaint filed in Belgium in June 2010 over alleged crimes committed during Operation Cast Lead.

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 canceled 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. British lawmakers have since amended legislation to make such cases less likely.

More than 1,400 Palestinians, roughly half of them civilians, died during the Israeli-Hamas war between December 27, 2008, and January 18, 2009. Thirteen Israelis, including 10 soldiers, were killed.

Israel said the conflict was a response to hundreds of rockets launched by Hamas at Israeli population centers. Hamas has vowed to destroy Israel.

AFP contributed to this report.

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