From THE JERUSALEM POST, Jan. 30, 2009, by GERALD M. STEINBERG* [emphasis added]:
The case [recently announced] in Spain against Israeli officials, which stems from the 2002 air force attack that destroyed the home of a senior Hamas terrorist and killed several of his children, is based on the universal jurisdiction provisions in the legal systems of a number of democratic countries.
While designed to bring heinous dictators to justice, "lawfare" - as this tactic has been dubbed - is exploited by non-governmental organizations that use the façade of universal human rights to promote their political goals.
The pattern emerged in 2001 when Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Badil (which focuses on refugee claims) and other NGOs used Belgium as the venue for allegations of war crimes against then-prime minister Ariel Sharon. The case was eventually dismissed and the law changed after Belgian officials linked to African dictators realized that they, too, were vulnerable to prosecution.
...The Spanish example of "lawfare" was initiated by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR). With a large budget provided by the European Commission, Norway, Ireland, Sweden, Switzerland and other European governments, PCHR is among the leaders of the anti-Israel demonization strategy.
The strategy was developed in the NGO Forum of the 2001 Durban Conference, the goal being to use boycotts and legal processes to brand Israel an "apartheid" state, while legitimizing terrorism. During the recent Gaza operation, PCHR issued over 50 statements, most of which included allegations of "war crimes." ...
...After the surprise attack delivered by the Spanish court, the Israeli government will have to give much higher priority to preventing "lawfare" cases before ministers and IDF officers are met by police in the arrivals hall and taken for interrogation.
*Prof. Gerald M. Steinberg is executive director of NGO Monitor and chairs the Political Science Department at Bar-Ilan University