Britain Cherry-picks which War Criminals to Prosecute

By Stuart Littlewood

After maintaining a deafening silence about Israel’s atrocities against civilians, Britain suddenly wants a ‘day of reckoning’ for war criminals – as long as they are Libyan.

While protestors’ attempts to oust Gaddafi and his circle, the UK’s Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva, Peter Gooderham, called on the UN Human Rights Council Special Session on Libya to take whatever steps were necessary “to ensure that those responsible for the awful human rights violations that are currently occurring in Libya are held to account”.

He said the Libyan Government was trying to stop the world seeing what was happening. “We are appalled by the levels of violence… The use of military force against civilians and the attacks on funeral processions have caused deep anger throughout the country and across the world… We join the High Commissioner in calling for an international inquiry into the violence… The United Kingdom will do everything we can to make sure those responsible in the Libyan regime are held accountable for their actions…" 

Foreign secretary William Hague announced he had signed a directive revoking Gaddafi’s diplomatic immunity in the United Kingdom and also the diplomatic immunity of his sons, his family, and his household. He spoke of Britain’s readiness to provide humanitarian help. “Our department of international development now has teams on both borders, on the Tunisian and Egyptian borders of Libya looking at how we can deliver such assistance if necessary.”

He bragged how the UK “drove” through a Security Council resolution referring what was happening in Libya to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. “That sends a clear message to all involved, in the regime and any other groups that if they commit crimes and atrocities there will be a day of reckoning for them.”

Bravo. What a splendidly high-principled chap that Mr Hague suddenly seems to be. And how swiftly he managed to get the International Criminal Court’s attention when he wanted to.

But we didn’t hear Hague and his colleagues call for a reckoning with the war criminals of the Israeli regime when they committed mega-atrocities against Gaza’s civilians just two years ago. We haven’t heard them driving anything constructive through the UN to halt those endless crimes. On the contrary, they’re busy tinkering with our laws of universal jurisdiction to enable Zionist thugs to come and go without fear of arrest.

Gaddafi may not be welcome in London but the Foreign Office will happily roll out the red carpet for Livni, Lieberman, Barak and Netanyahu, while Hague conducts the brass band.

And nobody saw the Department of International Development waiting on Gaza’s borders with humanitarian help.

Where was HMS Cumberland when British nationals on the Mavi Maramra and the Dignity and other vessels were being assaulted and terrorized in international waters by Israeli pirates, abducted and thrown in their stinking jails?

Our warships Cumberland and York magically appear in the Mediterranean when Hague or prime minister David Cameron snaps his fingers. The ships have been protecting victims of Gadaffi, and York unloaded tons of medical supplies and other humanitarian aid for the Benghazi Medical Centre, donated by the Swedish government.

Funny how these two vessels couldn’t be deployed to bring life-saving aid to innocent Palestinians after Israel’s indiscriminate ‘Cast Lead’ blitzkrieg. Those same Palestinians civilians are still being bombed and strafed with impunity on a daily basis, so when the Libyan crisis dies down shouldn’t HMS York be loaded up with more supplies and sail for Gaza, where the humanitarian crisis continues unabated?

On the Libya situation Hague has been sounding off with loud threats of retribution. “Crimes will not go unpunished and will not be forgotten; there will be a day of reckoning and the reach of international justice is long,” he says.

He also talks of imposing a no-fly zone over Libya to protect its people. One option would involve RAF patrols from Cyprus. Hague told Sky News: "One thing we have to plan for and work out how we would do it with allies and partners if it became necessary and if it had the necessary international support."

The BBC reported that according to Hague a no-fly zone over Libya would not necessarily need a green light from the UN. "There have been occasions in the past when such a no-fly zone has had clear, legal, international justification even without a Security Council resolution. It depends on the situation on the ground."

Prime minister David Cameron told MPs that he had asked the head of Britain’s armed forces to work with allies to see if a military no-fly zone was possible.

So if the answer is ‘yes’, there’s no reason not to impose a no-fly zone over Gaza, is there…? Oops, I forgot. The maniacs doing the murdering there are Whitehall’s “friends”, right? And Hague and Cameron have publicly pledged undying support for them, right? So, their balls are in a vice, right?

Even 1400 dead, the vast majority civilians including 350 children, is not slaughter enough to wrench them free… the thousands maimed and the tens of thousands homeless not enough cruelty. 

As for freedom and democracy in the Middle East, spare us the sermon. The British government has discounted Palestinian democracy since 2006 and ganged up with other bullies to spitefully punish the people for making the ‘wrong’ choice. Britain chose (as if it was any of our business to do the choosing) to prop up the treacherous and utterly discredited election losers and stand idly by while the decades of imprisonment and suffering continue.

The Jerusalem Post reports this week how David Cameron told Jewish dinner guests: “With me you have a prime minister whose belief in Israel is indestructible… I will always be a strong defender of the Jewish people. I will always be an advocate for the State of Israel.”

He also said Israel has a right to search vessels entering Gaza. Oh? So Israeli piracy on the high seas or in Palestinian waters is OK? The blockade is OK? Does this mean vessels sailing for Israeli ports can be stopped and searched for weapons that might be used against Israel’s neighbours?

Cameron also said “Some people try to judge Israel’s government by a higher code of conduct than they would apply to their own government.”

And he said that when the Israeli authorities had revoked the Jerusalem residency permit of the Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem, a state of affairs that has dragged on for six months “without tangible results” despite efforts by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the British Foreign Secretary (Hague) and the British ambassador. The bishop will now have to resort to legal remedies to go about his duties.

– Stuart Littlewood is author of the book Radio Free Palestine, which tells the plight of the Palestinians under occupation. He contributed this article to

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