MK Amir Peretz narrowly managed to escape an arrest warrant issued for him in London this past weekend on suspicion of committing war crimes during the Lebanon War,
Yedioth Ahronoth has learned.
The Justice and Foreign ministries were aware of the arrest warrant ahead of time, and advised Peretz, who was in New York last week, to cancel his trip to the UK. They told the MK that the warrant was initiated by "extremist organizations" as a provocation, aiming to manipulate the situation for "anti-Israel incitement."
The former defense minister refused to cancel his visit, claiming that by doing so he would be admitting defeat, sources said. The Justice Ministry accepted his stance, but was prepared to stand by with a legal team.
Peretz was scheduled to give a speech at a London university, and elements estimated that the anti-Israel activists would ambush him there before police would arrive to arrest him.
Following the defense elements' advice, Peretz decided to trick the activists; he e-mailed the university administration to inform it that he had to cancel the trip for personal reasons. The plot worked, causing the activists to call off the arrest warrant.
Peretz then traveled to the UK and fulfilled his other engagements, keeping a low profile. He spoke before an Israeli business club, and met with representatives of London's Jewish community.
But word of Peretz's trip eventually reached the activists, who renewed the efforts to issue a warrant against him. The defense establishment then advised the MK to push his return up from Sunday to Saturday evening – a move that evidently saved Peretz embarrassment, as the arrest warrant was eventually issued right after his departure.
Peretz refused to comment on the incident, saying only that "I do not intend to run away from anyone."
"But I also don't intend to fall into the provocative traps of extremist organizations, whose unrestrained positions that even I, as a man of peace, refuse to accept," he told Yedioth Ahronoth.