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Livni willing to face arrest over UK warrant

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Tzipi Livni speaks out
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Tzipi Livni, leader of Israeli opposition party, is willing to face war crimes charges
  • Charges reportedly filed against her in a UK court; Details of the warrant were never made public
  • Livni was Israel's foreign minister during military offensive against Hamas in Gaza
  • U.N. has blamed Israel and Hamas for human rights abuses during the conflict
RELATED TOPICS
  • Israel
  • Tzipi Livni
  • Hamas

(CNN) -- Tzipi Livni, leader of a key Israeli opposition party, said Monday she would be willing to face arrest to challenge the validity of war crimes charges reportedly filed against her in a British court.

"For me, this is not a question," Livni told CNN's Christiane Amanpour, when asked whether she was willing to face arrest. "I mean, yes, the answer is yes. I am."

A British court last year issued an arrest warrant for Livni, leader of Israel's Kadima Party. Details of the warrant were never made public; the warrant was reportedly later dropped.

"I would like this to be, in a way, maybe even a test case, because I'm willing to speak up and to speak about the military operation in Gaza Strip," Livni said.

Livni had served as Israel's foreign minister during an Israeli three-week military offensive against Hamas in Gaza that ended exactly one year ago. The United Nations and some human-rights groups have blamed Israel and Hamas for human rights abuses during the conflict.

But Livni, who is no longer in the Israeli government, defended the former government's decision to go to war, saying that the campaign was needed to confront rocket attacks by Palestinian movement Hamas on Israeli civilians, particularly those living in southern Israel.

"I know that the decisions that we made were crucial to give an answer to Israeli civilians that couldn't live in the south part of Israel and later or even also in different parts of Israel," she said.

"It was part of my responsibility, and this was the right answer. And I'm willing to stand for these reasons and to explain this to -- to the world and to any court."

She said that the Israeli military had already conducted its own investigation into the actions of its soldiers, but that she did not necessarily support a public inquiry in Israel, unless it helped Israeli soldiers when they traveled outside Israel.

"Part of our responsibility is also to defend the Israeli soldiers and officials that worked according to our decision in the government. And if an inquiry helps them, this is fine, so I can support an inquiry, as long as this helps them. It's not about me. It's about the Israeli soldiers, because I want them to leave Israel and to feel free to visit different parts of the world according, you know, to -- like any -- like any other citizen of the free world and any other soldier."

One year after end of fighting in Gaza, Livni said that the Israeli blockade of Gaza would stay in place.

"The blockade on Gaza -- yes. But it's important to say that, when it comes to humanitarian needs, the gates are open," she said.

It was not clear who originally sought the warrant for Livni last year from Westminster Magistrates Court. British legal rules allow arrest warrants to be issued by a court independent of ministerial approval.

The arrest warrant was revoked once it was clear Livni was not in Britain, the BBC reported.