Livni: A lawyer ‘against law’?

In 2007, Israel’s then-foreign minister proclaimed herself “against law, international law in particular”.

Tzipi Livni
Tne Palestine Papers reflect Tzipi Livni’s disdain for concepts of justice [EPA] 

It was business as usual at the United Nations in New York on November 13, 2007 when yet another discussion took place in the General Assembly about Israel’s dealings with the Palestinians.

The UN Special Observer for Palestine cited from a report in which Israel was portrayed as an “extraordinary violator of human rights” and called upon the international community to hold Israel accountable.

On the same day, halfway around the world, Tzipi Livni, the then-Israeli foreign minister, told Saeb Erekat, the chief negotiator of the Palestinian Authority (PA), and Ahmed Qurei, the former PA prime minister, that she is “against international law”.

In one of the most candid statements that Livni made during the meeting about the framework of the negotiations at the upcoming Annapolis summit, she told the Palestinian negotiators what she really thought of the subject:

Livni: I was the Minister of Justice. I am a lawyer… But I am against law – international law in particular. Law in general.

Given the imbalance of power between the occupied and the occupier, international law and concepts of justice are the last refuges for Palestinians. However, in that November 2007 meeting Livni made clear she values neither.

Livni, who is often perceived as more “moderate” than the current Israeli government, was by that time the preferred interlocutor for the Palestinians. But during the negotiations in the following months, Livni’s propositions clearly reflected her stated disregard for concepts of justice.

Population transfers

After the Annapolis talks, the question of whether Israel would emerge from the peace process as a “Jewish state” was left unanswered in the summit’s final joint statement. Thus it became a recurring theme in later negotiations, including this April 2008 session on “Borders”.

Livni: There are some Palestinian villages that are located on both sides of the 1967 line about which we need to have an answer, such as Beit Safafa, Barta’a, Baqa al-Sharqiyeh and Baqa al-Gharbiyyeh. There are also some settlements that were built behind 1967 line but expanded inside 1967 line illegally, such as Uranit settlement south of Hebron.

Media commentators at the time might have credited Yisrael Beiteinu, the right-wing nationalist party headed by Avigdor Lieberman, the current foreign minister, with pushing for “population transfers”. But Livni endorsed the same positions.

Any outcome involving transfer – even if negotiated by the Palestinian Authority, which has no standing or basis to represent Israel’s Arab citizens – could constitute an act of ethnic cleansing under the definition provided by the United Nations. At a minimum, it contravenes the international safeguards put in place to preserve the rights of the 1948 Palestinian refugees, including UN Resolution 194, which allows for refugees to return to their homeland.

Arrest warrant

In December 2009, Palestinian activists in London tried to get Livni arrested for her role in Israel’s war against Gaza waged almost a year ago.

A warrant for her arrest was said to have been issued by a London court, which made Livni cancel her visit to the UK. The warrant was later revoked after it became clear that Livni had not entered British territory. Given her perceived role in the war, and her backing for a “population transfer” to achieve a Jewish Israel, it is not surprising that many would like to see her in the dock.

What is surprising though is her apparent disdain for the very profession she pursued and practiced for over 10 years – as a law student, a lawyer and finally a justice minister.

Source: Al Jazeera