Saturday, January 31, 2009

Haaretz/Livni/Spain: someone is lying...

Regarding the possible investigation of senior Israeli officials by Spain for alleged war crimes committed in 2002, Ha'aretz has the following:
Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Moratinos informed Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on Friday of Spain's plan to amend legislation that granted a Spanish judge the authority to launch a much-publicized war crimes investigation against senior Israeli officials.

Judge Fernando Andreu launched an investigation Thursday into seven current or former Israeli officials over a 2002 bombing in Gaza that killed a top Hamas militant, Salah Shehadeh, and 14 other people, including nine children.

The judge acted under a doctrine that allows prosecution in Spain, and other European countries, to reach far beyond national borders in cases of torture or war crimes. The universal jurisdiction ruling sparked outrage in Israel and elsewhere.

Spanish state television TVE quoted government sources as saying the possibility of a legal "adjustment or modification" would not be retroactive and would not affect the case before the courts.

"I just heard from the Spanish Foreign Minister Moratinos, that Spain has decided to change its legislation in connection with universal jurisdiction and this can prevent the abuse of the Spanish legal system," Livni told the Associated Press. "I think this is very important news and I hope that other states in Europe will do the same."

"Legal systems around the world have been exploited by cynics whose sole purpose is to hurt Israel," Livni went on to say. "It's good that Spain decided to put an end to this phenomenon."

But over at JSF, a Spanish commenter clearly begged to differ and linked to his own post which appears to be a clear rebuttal of the Ha'aretz story, which said blogger dismissed as 'propaganda':

From this post (which contains links):
Efe | Madrid / La vicepresidenta primera del Gobierno, María Teresa Fernández de la Vega, ha asegurado que Israel entiende que la Justicia en España actúa con “total independencia” a la hora de tomar decisiones tras conocerse que la Audiencia Nacional investigará a un grupo de militares israelíes por un ataque en la Franja de Gaza en 2002.

En la rueda posterior al Consejo de Ministros, De la Vega ha subrayado que la posición del Gobierno es respetar la acción de los tribunales y no inmiscuirse en el desarrollo del caso abierto por el juez Fernando Andreu contra el ex ministro de Defensa Benjamín Ben-Eliezer y otros seis militares de Israel.

“España es un estado de derecho y la Justicia actúa con total independencia. Eso lo saben todos los países europeos y los países democráticos. En estos momentos, ésa es la posición. Así se lo hemos trasladado al Gobierno de Israel y estamos seguros de que así lo entiende”, ha manifestado la vicepresidenta.

En sus declaraciones ha recordado que el ministro de Asuntos Exteriores, Miguel Ángel Moratinos, expuso ya esta posición a su colega israelí, Tzipi Livni, lo que De la Vega ha considerado un acto que “forma parte de la normalidad democrática”. Según la vicepresidenta, no ha habido más contactos con el Ejecutivo israelí.

“Lo que le incumbe al Gobierno son las relaciones políticas. En un estado de derecho, todo el mundo sabe que el poder judicial es independiente”, ha insistido. [...]” (El Mundo)

To be fair, my Spanish isn't good enough to trust myself with an accurate translation but the whole thing sounds rather like a resounding rebuttal by the Spanish Vice-president of the Livni/Ha'aretz account.

levi9909 from JSF went on to ask for clarification in English and got this (comment section):
Dear levi9909,

Well, I think the “announcement” [by Ha'aretz] was an hoax, a diplomatic pressure on Spain, and propaganda for inside voters. We may be very skeptical, but in Spain there is a more than 30 years experience in fighting terrorism (from ETA, GRAPO; GAL (a terrorism form the State in the eighties and nineties), Al Qaeda) from the democracy without “exceptional mesures”. I mean, Justice in Spain is not a joke.

The declarations of Mª Teresa de la Vega, an official statement shown on the National TV (rtve, La Primera) were diplomatic but quite clear: independence of the Justice, so Israeli terrorist suspects will be judged.

There’ sno doubt on that.

First time As’ad AbuKhalil reported the new, I thought it was a nightmare, but the sources have been only from Israel, as I explained in Spanish.

Thank you very much for your excellent work everyday at Jews sans frontières. You’re very good in the task.

Salam and Shalom.

So it would appear that either Livni or Ha'aretz are lying through their teeth on this. Will the Israeli officials ever be successfully be investigated and possibly prosecuted and convicted? I doubt it very much but assuming fairness on the part of the Spanish investigator(s), the publicity value of such an investigation cannot be underestimated. The drip-drip effect of bad press for Israel must continue.


At 5:01 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

I'm abenyusuf, from the blog Situjihadismo. Thank you for the coverage and the link.
Well,it was an hoax from Livni. But at the same time, the debate in Spain is in an a critical point. There's a menace from the right pro-Israel, and the Socialist are not well informed of the situation in Gaza.

More than ever, we have to support the claim for Justice for the Palestinians.

Thank you, salam.

At 5:57 PM, Blogger Gert said...

Thank you, Juan.

At 5:42 PM, Blogger Emmanuel said...

I don't think anybody lied. Here is what I understood from all the different reports: the Spanish deputy prime minister and Foreign Minister Moratinos were referring to different aspects of this issue. The government would work to change the law in the future, but it wouldn't stop the current investigation, since the new law wouldn't be retroactive. Livni and the Ha'aretz report didn't say anything that would contradict this.

Changing the law would make sense, since this law is a major headache for Spain, not only in the context of Israel. Investigations against the United States, UK or any other country, can strain Spain's foreign relations. Belgium had the same law and changed it for the same reasons.

At 6:40 PM, Blogger Gert said...


When two Belgian lawyers wanted to exploit a loophole in Belgian legislation that would allow to prosecute Sharon for war crimes, others jumped on the bandwagon and all of a sudden there were calls to prosecute also G.W.Bush. At that point Washington stepped in and started to apply pressure to the Belgian government. One of the threats was to relocate NATO HQ from Brussels to elsewhere. And so the loophole was plugged.

It remains to be seen if the same will happen in Spain: that might simply depend on whether pro- or anti-zionist forces in Spain will get the upper hand. Not that easy to predict, right now...


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