Monday, October 5, 2009
Moshe Ya'alon does not travel to London - for fear of being arrested
Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya'alon recently canceled a planned trip to Britain for fear of being arrested there. Ya'alon was invited to London to attend a fund-raising dinner by the British branch of the Jewish National Fund. When Ya'alon consulted the Foreign Ministry's legal team, they warned that Palestinian groups might ask a British court to order his arrest and that despite being a minister he would not enjoy diplomatic immunity.
Ya'alon was chief of staff in 2002-5. He is one of several senior officers whom pro-Palestinian groups have sought to put on trial over the assassination of Hamas member Salah Shehadeh in July 2002. The attack also killed 14 civilians, nine of them children.
Last week, when Defense Minister Ehud Barak visited London, pro-Palestinian groups sought his arrest for alleged war crimes during January's Operation Cast Lead in Gaza. However, the court ultimately decided not to hear the request immediately, enabling Barak to leave London in peace.
In 2004, when pro-Palestinian groups sought the arrest of then-defense minister Shaul Mofaz during a visit to London, a judge ruled that he did have diplomatic immunity. During last week's incident with Barak, Britain's Foreign Office asked the court to uphold this precedent. But since the hearing was postponed, whether it will do so remains unknown. (Haaretz)