For over a decade, anti-Israel non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and their partners in the United Kingdom have attempted to press “war crimes” charges against senior Israeli officials for their involvement in anti-terror operations. The latest reports regarding a request by British police to question Tzipi Livni, who is in London at the Haaretz Israel Conference, reflect this exploitation of legal institutions (“lawfare”) in pursuit of political objectives.
- The main NGOs behind the campaigns in the UK and beyond, including at the International Criminal Court, are Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), Al Haq, and Al Mezan. All are funded by European governments.
- In the UK, they have been supported by Daniel Machover of Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights and Hickman & Rose Solicitors, as well as Irvine, Thanvi, Natas and Imran Khan & Partners.
- In December 2009, a Hamas-affiliated TAWTHEQ filed an arrest warrant for Livni, which was revoked once it was deemed she was not present in the UK. Based in part on a blatant distortion of a speech by Livni, Al Haq alleged that she bore “special responsibility for the war crimes and possible crimes against humanity that characterized Israel’s actions during the assault on Gaza.”
- In 2009 and 2010, Amnesty International (UK), War on Want (UK), and Coalition of Women for Peace (Israel) campaigned against proposed changes to the law that would limit the ability of NGOs to exploit the British justice system.
- The attempts to demonize and prosecute Israeli officials are bolstered by the activities and allegations of other NGOs, including Human Rights Watch, Breaking the Silence, and Yesh Din. Through their publications and advocacy, including lobbying at the United Nations and of governments such as the UK, these groups are active in promoting a narrative of Israeli criminality.
For more details on the exploitation of legal concepts and courts for anti-Israel campaigns, see “Lawfare, International Law, and Human Rights.”