Israeli army officers fear arrest in UK

Visit cancelled over threat of prosecution for alleged war crimes against Palestinians

A group of Israeli army officers has cancelled a visit to Britain because London was unable to guarantee they would not be arrested for alleged war crimes under universal jurisdiction provisions, Israeli officials said yesterday.

Four officers, including a major, a lieutenant colonel and a colonel had been due to visit last week at the invitation of the British Army.

An Israeli official declined to specify the purpose of the visit but said that Israeli officers are invited to Britain "to assist in defensive technology in the military arena".

The incident has fuelled Israeli anger at the British Government for not yet following through on promised changes to the law so that Israeli officers and officials do not run the risk of arrest on UK soil. There have been several incidents in which visiting Israelis have been vulnerable to arrest.

The announcement of the cancellation came as the Attorney General, Baroness Scotland, was in Israel on a private visit where she met the Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister, Danny Ayalon. "These officials were invited by Great Britain, but they will stay in Israel as long as we do not have a 100 per cent guarantee that they will not become objects of criminal lawsuits in that country," Mr Ayalon said. "This matter will shake the good relations between the two countries that share values and far-reaching interests. The British must remember that such visits serve both countries."

Last month, it emerged that a London court had issued an arrest warrant against the former Israeli foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, at the behest of pro-Palestinian activists. They had demanded the warrant on the grounds that Ms Livni was responsible for war crimes during Israel's devastating Operation Cast Lead in Gaza last winter, which took the lives of an estimated 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis.

Ms Livni, the leader of the opposition Kadima party, called off her trip, but the incident sparked a diplomatic row between Britain and Israel.

Under British law, courts are allowed to issue warrants for war crime suspects around the world, but Mr Ayalon claimed that pro-Palestinian groups were "manipulating and abusing" the legislation.

In a speech at Jerusalem's Hebrew University last night, Lady Scotland noted that the British Government "is looking urgently at ways in which the UK system might be changed to avoid this situation arising again and is determined that Israel's leaders should always be able to travel freely to the UK."

Palestinians and their supporters, however, oppose amending the law and argue that Israelis should be held accountable for alleged abuses and war crimes. We believe no attempt should be made [to change the law]," Inayat Bunglawala, spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain, told the Associated Press. "There's no reason why Israel should be singled out for special treatment. If they're accused of war crimes, we have a duty – and legislation – to prosecute."

A United Nations commission of inquiry led by Justice Richard Goldstone last year found that the Israeli army's own investigations of its troops do not meet international legal standards.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Operations Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: I am currently recruiting for an Operati...

Project Coordinator/Order Entry, Security Cleared

£100 - £110 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Project Coordinator/Order Entry Ham...

Senior Digital Marketing Executive

£35000 - £45000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based i...

Junior Developer- CSS, HMTL, Bootstrap

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A leading company within the healthcare ...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz