More than 30,000 visitors to the United Kingdom Parliament's official website have signed an online petition in the past few days, calling for the arrest of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu upon his arrival in London next month.
Petitioners justify their call for arrest by accusing Netanyahu of war crimes. British law states that if a petition reaches 100,000 online signatures, parliament must discuss it officially.
Israeli officials believe that the British government will not approve the discussion of such a petition in parliament, and officials at the British Foreign Office stated Tuesday that it's a "publicity stunt," devoid of any real meaning.
They also downplayed the petition's potential ramifications by citing the strong ties between the two nations. "The bilateral relationship between Britain and Israel is closer than ever, evidenced by the two countries' mutual trade numbers, which have doubled in the past few years, in addition to the flourishing cooperation between them in the fields of academia, culture and science."
Similar to US-Israeli relations however, tensions have emerged between Netanyahu and British officials over a nuclear deal recently signed between Iran and six world powers, including the United Kingdom.
Netanyahu and British Foreign Minister Philip Hammond on Iranian nuclear deal:
Any citizen can start a petition on the UK Parliament's website. Among the petitions currently online, one relates to legalizing drugs and has garnered 200,000 signatures, and another calls for milk to be subsidized and has 40,000 signatories.
Last June, shortly before former Israeli Defense Minister and Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Shaul Mofaz visited London, concerns arose that he would face an arrest warrant upon arrival. However, after a few hours of uncertainty, Mr. Mofaz landed at Heathrow Airport and passed customs smoothly.