Difficult situation. Scotland
Photo: Guy Asayag
British AG: Change policy that allows arrest warrants against Israeli leaders
Following report that Israel canceled departure of military delegation to UK for fear of IDF officers' arrest, visiting attorney general says her country adamant that Israeli leaders always be allowed to travel freely to Britain

Attorney General for England and Wales and Northern Ireland Baroness Patricia Scotland said Tuesday that Britain sees an urgent need to change the policy allowing arrest warrants to be issued against senior Israeli officials.


In a lecture she gave at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, the Baroness Scotland said that Britain is adamant that Israeli leaders always be allowed to travel freely to Britain.


Earlier Scotland made similar remarks during her meetings with Justice Minister Yaakov Ne'eman and Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon.


According to Scotland, the current situation in which pro-Palestinian attorneys are asking British courts to issue arrest warrants against Israelis will make it difficult to maintain normal relations between the two countries.


Ayalon told the British AG that the lawsuits against senior Israeli politicians and IDF officers were creating an intolerable situation.


Earlier Tuesday, Ynet reported that Israel had canceled the departure of a military delegation to Britain last week after UK authorities could not vouch that Israel Defense Forces' officers would not be arrested. The delegation was slated to include four to five officers invited to the UK by the British army.


About two weeks ago an arrest warrant was issued in Britain against Opposition leader Tzipi Livni following a complaint that the former foreign minister had been responsible for war crimes during the Israeli operation in Gaza about a year ago.


Following the ensuing row between Israel and the UK, the Guardian reported that the British attorney general will be asked to approve warrants before suspected war criminals can be arrested in the future under a plan being negotiated by the Foreign Office.


Prime Minister Gordon Brown telephoned Livni and told her he strongly opposes the arrest warrant issued against her.


According to a statement issued by the Kadima leader, Brown said that Livni was "most welcome" in Britain at any time and that he planned to work to change the current legal situation.


In late September a British court threw out a petition demanding an arrest warrant for Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Minister Moshe Yaalon, a former IDF chief of staff, cancelled a planned trip to Britain for fear of being arrested.


In 2005 Major-General (res.) Doron Almog refused to get off a plane at Heathrow Airport after Israel's military attached warned him that he was facing detention. 


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