Israeli vice PM cancels trip to Britain for fear of arrest

11:47, October 06, 2009      

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Israel's Vice Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon has cancelled a trip to Britain due to concerns that he might be arrested over alleged war crimes, local daily Ha'aretz reported on Monday.

The cancellation is the latest example of a mounting legal embarrassment for Israeli government officials and military officers as pro-Palestinian activists try to put them on trial in countries recognizing universal jurisdiction for their roles in military actions and warfares against the Palestinians.

Yaalon was accused of committing war crimes over the assassination of senior Hamas commander Salah Shehadeh in July 2002 when he was chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces. During that operation, 14 others were also killed, including eight children.

The vice prime minister consulted the Foreign Ministry's legal team, which advised against the trip, cautioning that he would not enjoy diplomatic immunity should a British court issues a warrant for his arrest, according to the report.

"This is a campaign whose goal is to delegitimize the state (of Israel)," Yaalon was quoted as saying, adding that he would not play into the hands of groups fomenting what he termed anti-Israel propaganda.

Last week, pro-Palestinian groups tried but failed to have Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak arrested during his visit to Britain over the recent winter offensive in the Gaza Strip, which claimed some 1,400 Palestinian and 13 Israeli lives.

Source: Xinhua
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