Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009 | 12:05
98 feminist peace organizations, from 24 countries, among them 20 Israeli and Palestinian organizations, sent a letter this morning (Tuesday, December 22, 2009) to the British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, and to the British Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, demanding that they not restrict the principle of universal jurisdiction in the UK. Universal Jurisdiction enables local courts to prosecute foreign war criminals – among them Ehud Olmet, Ehud Barak, Tzipi Livni and other high ranking Israeli officials – who are responsible for the war in Gaza last year.
The letter was initiated by the Coalition of Women for Peace, an Israeli feminist organization that was founded in 2000 and is a leading voice in the Israeli anti-occupation movement. The letter was sent following Gordon and Miliband’s recent declarations that they will restrict universal jurisdiction in the UK – following an arrest warrant issued last week by a London court against Tzipi Livni, Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs during the war in Gaza.
The signatories claim that the Goldstone Report raises serious suspicions regarding systematic and intentional execution of war crimes during the war in Gaza (Operation Cast Lead). The letter asks Brown and Miliband to “defend and maintain the important principle of universal jurisdiction, despite political pressures by war criminals and their allies.”
The organizations further claim that restricting universal jurisdiction sets a dangerous precedent in the prosecution of war criminals from around the world. They stated: “As feminist organizations, we regard this as an act of collaboration with violence against women, since women and girls are particularly susceptible to poverty, displacement and marginalization in times of war, and are more frequently subjected to domestic violence, sexual abuse and rape.”
Eilat Maoz, CWP General Coordinator, said: “We reach out to the international community aiming to protect the people of our region, Palestinians and Israelis alike, from war criminals that still walk freely among us. As Israelis, we have an important role in supporting the international pressure on Israel. The vast response to our call demonstrates that the international community has lost its patience to the Israeli occupation.”
Lana Khaskia, CWP General Coordinator, said: “We all witness the growing international public pressure, which influences governments around the world to act. This was the case in the recent decision to label settlement produce in the UK, and in recent successes of the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. We see ourselves as a part of this international movement, which calls upon Israel to end the occupation at once.”