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Israeli officers cancel UK trip over arrest fears

Jan. 5, 2010 1:15 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 5, 2010 9:00 P.M.)
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israel cancelled the departure of a military delegation to Britain last week after authorities there said they could not guarantee the officers would be safe from arrest.

The Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth reported on Tuesday that the delegation included a colonel, lieutenant colonel and a major. Approached by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affiars, the UK government said it could not promise the three would not face arrest.

Israeli officials are facing increasing international legal action over allegations of war crimes committed during last winter’s three-week Israeli offensive on Gaza.

Hundreds of women and children were among 1,400 Palestinians who were killed in the attack. Thirteen Israelis also died.

After the war, A UN Fact Finding Mission led by South African jurist Richard Goldstone produced a 575-page report claiming both Israel and Palestinian militias violated the laws of war.

In early December, a London court issued an arrest warrant for Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni, who was foreign minister during the Gaza offensive. The warrant is no longer in effect, but diplomatic protest from Israel compelled Britain to move to change rules governing arrest orders, for instance by requiring the attorney general to approve them.

Israeli officials continue to insist on a change. The country’s Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon told Yedioth that "should we not get the appropriate securities and if the British law remains unchanged, Israeli officers and seniors will not be able to travel to Britain, which would undermine the good relations between the two countries who share common values and interests."
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