IDF cancel UK trip after arrest fears

By Jessica Elgot, January 5, 2010
Attorney-General Baroness Scotland is currently visiting Israel

Attorney-General Baroness Scotland is currently visiting Israel

IDF officers have been forced to cancel a trip to Britain after the British government failed to guarantee that arrest warrants would not be issued against them.

Israel's Defence Ministry halted the IDF visit to the UK, where four IDF chiefs were invited to speak to the British army, the Jerusalem Post reported.

The British Foreign Ministry told Israel that they were unable to guarantee that the IDF delegation would not have arrest warrants issued against them. The embarrassing revelation has come as Baroness Scotland, Britain's Attorney-General, was in Israel for a long-planned series of meetings with her legal counterparts in the Justice and Foreign Ministries.

But it is likely that her meeting with Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, in Jerusalem today, will be soured: Mr Ayalon is reportedly livid at the cancellation, which comes hard on the heels of the row over Kadima leader Tsipi Livni's cancelled visit to London last month.

A change in British law was first suggested when Ms Livni cancelled address to a JNF conference and an arrest warrant was issued for her by a Westminster magistrate.

Foreign Secretary David Miliband has now suggested changing the law so that the Attorney-General must approve any arrest warrants against foreign leaders before they are issued.

A similar threat also surfaced during the summer when lawyers representing Palestinian families attempted to get an arrest warrant issued against Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak when he came to the UK to address the Labour Friends of Israel at the party conference.

During her visit, Baroness Scotland will address the Hebrew University on the topic ‘Lawfare: Time for rules of engagement?’

Last updated: 11:08am, January 5 2010