Brown tells Livni: You're always welcome in Britain
By Barak Ravid, Haaretz Correspondent, and Agencies
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown called opposition leader Tzipi Livni on Wednesday to voice his opposition to an arrest warrant issued in Britain against her earlier this week, saying that she was welcome in his country any time.
Israel's government confirmed on Tuesday that Livni had canceled a planned London trip this month after her office received news of a secretly issued arrest warrant awaiting her arrival.
Brown added that he intended to take action to change the existing legal parameters that allowed this situation to arise.
During their conversation, Livni explained the importance of a quick remedy to the situation, not for her sake, "but for the sake of any decision maker, any commander or soldier in Israel and in the world, who must fight terror."
Earlier Wednesday, President Shimon Peres said the arrest warrant was one of Britain's biggest political mistakes in recent years.
Before heading for the Copenhagen climate conference to represent Israel, Peres said London had pledged to remedy this situation, and that it was high time it did.
Britain pledged Tuesday to reform the peculiar legal power that lets judges order the arrest of visiting politicians and generals - a threat currently focused on Israeli visitors that, one day, might be invoked against Barack Obama or Vladimir Putin.
Lawyers working with Palestinian activists in recent years have sought the arrest of senior Israeli civilian and military figures under terms of universal jurisdiction. This ill-defined legal concept empowers judges to issue arrest warrants for visiting officials accused of war crimes in a foreign conflict.
Their latest target is Livni, Israel's former foreign minister, who staunchly defends Israel's offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
Foreign Secretary David Miliband later announced that Britain would no longer tolerate legal harassment of Israeli officials in this fashion.
Speaking after meeting Israel's London ambassador Tuesday night, Miliband said the British law permitting judges to issue arrest warrants against foreign dignitaries without any prior knowledge or advice by a prosecutor must be reviewed and reformed.
Miliband said the British government was determined that arrest threats against visitors of Livni's stature would not happen again.
"Israel is a strategic partner and a close friend of the United Kingdom. We are determined to protect and develop these ties," Miliband said. "Israeli leaders - like leaders from other countries - must be able to visit and have a proper dialogue with the British government."