War crimes suspect and former Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni, left, with PLO chief negotiator Saeb Erekat, at the World Economic Forum in Jordan, 20 May.
Ali Abunimah-5 June 2017
Switzerland’s top prosecutor is investigating former Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni for war crimes.
The Office of the Attorney General confirmed to Swiss media that it is examining a complaint brought against Livni in relation to “Operation Cast Lead” – Israel’s assault on Gaza in December 2008 and January 2009 that killed more than 1,400 Palestinians.
The complaint was lodged by the Palestinian rights advocacy group Collectif Urgence Palestine in Geneva when it learned that Livni planned to enter the country.
According to the publication swissinfo.ch, Livni visited the city of Lugano for a pro-Israel event on 28 May and left the following day to Italy.
“It is unclear what action the attorney general’s office will take action in the future, especially if Livni plans to return to Switzerland,” swissinfo.ch added.
“Switzerland has an obligation to work on cases of alleged war crimes if the suspect steps on Swiss territory,” a spokesperson for the nongovernmental group Trial International,
which fights impunity against war crimes, told swissinfo.ch. “If Switzerland opens an investigation, it is in line with Swiss law, especially given the alleged crimes committed during Operation Cast Lead.”
In January, Livni canceled a visit to Brussels. Belgian prosecutors confirmed they wanted to use her planned visit to question her in an ongoing war crimes investigation.
Livni is the subject of a complaint by Palestinian victims filed in Brussels in 2010 for war crimes during the 2008-2009 assault.
She was foreign minister in the Israeli government that ordered the attack, and by her own account a full participant in planning it.
Livni told Israeli media in January 2009: “Israel demonstrated real hooliganism during the course of the recent operation, which I demanded.”
The Goldstone Report, the independent UN-commissioned inquiry into the assault, also quotes Livni stating: “Israel is not a country upon which you fire missiles and it does not respond. It is a country that when you fire on its citizens it responds by going wild – and this is a good thing.”
Israel claims that the assault on Gaza was a response to missiles fired by Palestinian armed groups, but the Israeli government’s own chronology shows that an agreed ceasefire that had been effective for months only collapsed after Israel broke it by launching several deadly attacks on Gaza in early November 2008.
It then carried out its major assault on Gaza that had been in the works for six months.
Independent judicial authorities in several countries have initiated legal examinations of potential war crimes by Israelis, but political pressure and interference has often thwarted victims’ further pursuit of justice.
While Livni is still being pursued for war crimes by her victims, various Arab regimes have continued to maintain warm relationships with her, including senior figures in the Saudi hierarchy.
In May, the activist group Jordan BDS strongly criticized the Jordanian government’s complicity for allowing Livni to participate in a conference in the country.
Jordan BDS said the government showed “blatant disregard for the public will” by allowing the “war criminal Tzipi Livni” to travel to Jordan.
At a time when hundreds of Palestinian prisoners were on a hunger strike in Israeli prisons that had lasted more than a month, Livni took the stage at the World Economic Forum at the Dead Sea, alongside Palestine Liberation Organization chief negotiator Saeb Erekat, to talk about “peace.”