British lawmakers and pro-Palestinian activists have pilloried the governing Labour Party for entertaining Israeli War Minister Ehud Barak at their annual conference instead of calling for his arrest for war crimes committed against the Palestinians.
A demonstration was held to protest against Barak’s presence in the British coastal resort of Brighton on September 29. The protestors said he should be held accountable for the 22-day Israeli onslaught against the 1.5 million Palestinians living in the blockaded Gaza Strip, which killed over 1,400, including more than 900 civilians, between December 2008 and January 2009.
Nine Labour MPs participated in the protest near the party’s conference venue, which was organized by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC).
PSC General Secretary Betty Hunter said that it was a disgrace for Britain to engage and hold meetings with Ehud Barak, who has been accused of war crimes. "As a High Contracting Party to the Geneva Convention, the British government should be arresting Barak for war crimes, not treating him to dinner," she insisted.
Barak was due to attend a fringe meeting of the governing Labour Party’s annual conference in Brighton, on England’s south coast, before meeting with Foreign Secretary David Miliband on September 30, who said he was pleased to meet the Israeli war minister.
In London, meanwhile, lawyer Tayab Ali said an application was lodged by lawyers at the City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court for an arrest warrant to be issued for Barak on grounds of war crimes in connection with the Gaza offensive, but the petition was rejected on grounds of diplomatic immunity.
A UN fact-finding mission headed by Richard Goldstone, a South African judge, investigated the Israeli blitz against Gaza and concluded that civilians had been targeted deliberately during the conflict and called for legal action against those responsible.