By Itamar Eichner, YNetnews.com – 3 May 2010
It happened in London last December: Police officers raided a hotel in the British capital to arrest Opposition Chairwoman Tzipi Livni for alleged war crimes during Operation Cast Lead. Luckily for her, she was not even in the city.
The details of the dramatic affair, which could have sparked a wide-scale diplomatic incident and possibly put Israel and Britain’s relations in danger, were brought to the attention of the Yedioth Ahronoth daily on Sunday.
Tami Shor, deputy director-general of Israel’s Water Authority, visited London in December 2009 after being invited to deliver a speech at a conference in the city. Her only resemblance to Livni appears to be her hair color and blue eyes.
But a Palestinian organization, convinced that this woman was the Israeli opposition leader, asked a local court to issue an arrest warrant against her for alleged war crimes committed during the Israeli operation in Gaza. The court was told that Livni was staying at the Hendon Hall Hotel in northern London.
A police force, armed with an arrest warrant, raided the hotel. The policemen searched for Livni, but couldn’t find her for a simple reason: She was indeed slated to visit London and attend the conference with the Water Authority deputy director-general, but had canceled the visit two weeks earlier.
However, her name was not deleted from the list of participants, and the organizers failed to announce that she won’t be attending in order to draw more people to the event.
The police, who thought Livni was hiding, searched for her throughout the hotel but couldn’t find her. Their next step was to demand that the hotel provide them with the security camera footage with the hopes of tracing her, but the opposition leader was nowhere to be found. A thorough investigation revealed that she had never arrived in Britain.
Tami Shor confirmed the details of the report.
Following the incident, the Foreign Ministry recommended that Livni avoid visiting Britain, and indeed she has refrained from doing so ever since.
A loophole in British law allows courts to issue arrest warrants against foreign leaders on suspicion of committing war crimes without the attorney general’s approval. This means that any Palestinian who learns about an upcoming visit of a “suspicious” Israeli official can ask for an arrest warrant – and it will be approved by the British court.