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Ex-Israeli FM Tzipi Livni cancels Brussels visit after Belgian court's arrest order

Saturday January 21, 2017 9:52 PM, Agencies

Tzipi Livni
[Belgian prosecutors planned to question former Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni over war crimes in Gaza. (Flickr)]

Israel’s former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni has cancelled a visit to Brussels scheduled for next week following an order by a Belgian court to arrest her if she lands in the country.

The news comes as Belgian prosecutors confirm that Livni was due to be questioned in an ongoing investigation for war crimes.

Livni was expected in Brussels on 23 January for a conference at the European Parliament, but she has pulled out citing illness, according to the Belgian newspaper Le Soir.

Livni was apparently not too ill to speak to the New York branch of the Israel lobby group the Anti-Defamation League on Wednesday.

Israeli officials, including Livni, have a history of cancelling foreign visits if they fear arrest.

Thierry Wertz, a Belgian prosecutor, told Le Soir that federal judicial authorities “planned to take advantage of Tzipi Livni’s visit to try to move the investigation forward.”

According to Le Soir, Wertz’s comments indicate that prosecutors planned to formally summon Livni for questioning.

A Belgian court has ordered the arrest of the former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Israel, Tzipi Livni, when she steps off the plane on her arrival in the Belgian capital Brussels on 23 January, official EU sources revealed on Thursday.

On 23 June 2010, a group of victims filed a complaint in Belgium to the Federal Prosecutor against certain Israeli civilian and military officials at the time, including Tzipi Livni, for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the Gaza Strip, according to Palestinian News Network (PNN).

The Federal Prosecutor’s Office confirmed that Livni would be intercepted by the Federal Judicial Police during her stay in Belgium to be heard and questioned following the complaint lodged against her and that it would ensure the necessary follow-up to this case.

Livni was the Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs at the time of the Israeli military operation “Cast Lead” in the Gaza Strip, which took place from 27 December 2008 to 18 January 2009. She is scheduled to arrive in Brussels on 23 January to participate in a conference in the European Parliament.

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