Almog: on humanitarian mission
Photo: Michael Kramer
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw apologized to Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom Monday over the near arrest of former IDF Gaza Strip commander Maj. Gen. (res.) Doron Almog last week in London.
"I apologize for the discomfort caused to General Almog. This incident was very embarrassing to us," said Straw.
Almog was supposed to visit London last week to gather donations for the first disabled children's village in the world, but was advised by Israel's ambassador to Great Britain not to leave the aircraft after a Muslim group threatened to have him arrested for "war crimes" during the al-Aqsa Intifada.
Apart from his meeting with Straw, Shalom has met in recent days with the foreign ministers of Turkey, Jordan, Tunisia, and is expected to meet ministers from Morocco, Austria, China, Egypt and Italy later this week.
Law is law
Despite the apology, however, Straw pointed out that British law did, in fact, provide for private citizens to initiate police investigations, and said he or even Prime Minister Tony Blair could theoretically be investigated for war crimes committed by British military personnel in Iraq.
Also present at the meeting with Straw was Knesset Member Roni Bar-On, a lawyer by profession and a former judge in the civil administration in the West Bank.
"Does this mean I can't visit London now," Bar-On asked Straw?
Straw: situation can't continue
Near the end of the meeting, Straw said the issue would be subjected to legal review.
"As a government, we will formulate a clear stand on the matter. There is no question that the current situation cannot continue," he said.
In response, Shalom told Straw, "these events could harm Israel-British relations. The issue must be resolved.