Tzipi Livni
Tzipi LivniHadas Parush/Flash 90

Israel on Friday denounced what it called the "cynical exploitation" of Belgium's judicial system, after Belgian prosecutors confirmed they wanted to question former minister Tzipi Livni over alleged “war crimes”.

Livni was expected to visit Brussels to meet Jewish leaders in the city but "cancelled three or four days before," a spokesman for the event said.

He said the cancellation was for "personal reasons" but local newspaper LeSoir said prosecutors had been hoping to question Livni over allegations of war crimes during Israel’s counterterrorism Operation Cast Lead in Gaza in later 2008-early 2009, when she was Foreign Minister.

"We wanted to take advantage of her visit to try to advance the investigation," a spokesman for Belgium's federal prosecutor Thierry Werts confirmed to AFP.

Livni's spokeswoman did not respond to requests for comment from AFP, but the foreign ministry reacted strongly.

"We reject this cynical abuse of the Belgian legal system to advance apolitical agenda," ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said, according to the news agency.

He labelled the attempt to question Livni "another cheap publicity stunt with no legal basis that was organized and executed by an anti-Israeli organization."

Livni is named along with other political and military leaders in a complaint filed in June 2010 over alleged crimes committed during Operation Cast Lead.

Belgian justice has the right to detain a suspect in its territory on crimes related to international law as one of the victims had Belgian citizenship.

The Belgian federal prosecutor's office believes Livni is not protected by immunity.

In 2009, a British court issued an arrest warrant for Livni after Palestinian Arab activists made an application over her role as Foreign Minister during the conflict. In December of that year, she cancelled a visit to London after being informed of the arrest warrant.

Last year, Livni was handed an invitation to report to police for questioning over "war crimes" when she landed in London.

The invitation for questioning was received as Livni visited London in a personal capacity to participate in a local conference.

The Foreign Ministry condemned that request from British police at the time, saying it viewed the request "with great concern".

"We would have expected different behavior from a close ally such as the UK," it added.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)