Former Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni was summoned by the British police "on a voluntary basis" for questioning over suspicions of war crimes committed in Gaza. The request was later cancelled.
Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper, reported Livni was contacted by the police on Thursday before a scheduled trip to London.
The Scotland Yard war crimes unit reached out to interview her about Operation Cast Lead in 2008 in Gaza that resulted in the death of 1,440 Palestinians, a majority of whom were civilians. Livni was the foreign minister at the time and is currently an opposition member of parliament.
According to the newspaper, the summons by the British police was cancelled following discussions between diplomats from Israel and UK. This was after the British Foreign Office said Livni’s trip to London would be converted into a special diplomatic assignment, granting her special immunity.
‘Of great concern’
The Israeli Foreign Ministry said the request by the police raises “great concern.”
“We would have expected different behaviour from a close ally such as the UK,” it said in a statement.
“The British legal system is being abused,” said Livni at a Haaretz Israel conference on Sunday in London. “The fact that Israeli decision-makers and army commanders are forced to participate in a 'theatre of the absurd' when we come to London is something that is not acceptable.”
Livni said this was a moral issue that “needs to be changed.”
Operation Cast Lead saw Israel launch airstrikes and a ground invasion in Gaza following rocket attacks on southern Israel.
In 2009, a British court issued an arrest warrant for Livni after Palestinian activists made an application over her role as foreign minister during the conflict.
In a bid to soothe strained ties with Israel the following year, the country published an amendment to a law that put visiting officials at risk of arrest for alleged war crimes.
The change was to ensure private arrest warrants for offences under certain international laws, including the Geneva Convention, would first have to be approved by the chief prosecutor.