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Monday, February 2, 2009

Israel: Spain will limit borderless courts

Sun, 01 Feb 2009 16:12:19 GMT | PressTV

Tzipi Livni is one of the major contenders for becoming the next Prime Minister in the Feb. 10 elections.
Israel says Spain will limit the reach of its courts amid a much-anticipated probe into alleged Israeli war crimes by a Spanish court.

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said Friday that her Spanish counterpart Miguel Angel Moratinos had informed her that Spain would scale back the authority of its courts, AP reported.

"I think this is very important news and I hope that other states in Europe will do the same," Livni said.

A Spanish judge began an investigation Thursday into seven current or former Israeli officials over a 2002 bombing in Gaza.

The bombing killed a top Hamas commander, Salah Shehadeh, and 14 other people including nine children.

Spanish judge Fernando Andreu agreed to look into the case against Israel's Infrastructure Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, a former defense minister, and the then head of the air force Dan Halutz along with five other former Israeli officials.

One of the Israelis the court aimed to investigate, former military chief of staff Moshe Yaalon, dismissed the charges as "propaganda."

Yaalon, now a candidate for parliament for the Likud Party, told Israel's Army Radio that he was "not worried" about standing trial.

Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the frontrunner to become the next premier, said the Spanish decision "makes a mockery out of international law."

In the wake of Israel's military operation in the Gaza Strip, Tel Aviv has vowed to protect the army's rank-and-file members as well as Israeli commanders.

The war in Gaza left at least 1,330 Palestinians dead and thousands of others wounded. Israel lost 10 soldiers in the fighting and three Israeli civilians were killed by Hamas rockets.

The incumbent Israeli Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, has rejected the Spanish probe. "Whoever calls the killing of a terrorist a 'crime against humanity' is living in an upside down world," he said in a statement.

Hamas, the democratically-elected governor of the Gaza Strip, seeks the termination of the 18-month Israeli blockade of Gaza. The group is labeled as a terrorist organization by Tel Aviv and Washington.

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