Israeli military officials cancel Britain trip


JERUSALEM (JTA) — A delegation of Israeli military officers canceled a visit to Britain out of fear that they would be arrested on war crimes charges.

The cancellation of the visit, scheduled for last week, was announced Tuesday.

It comes a month after Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni canceled a visit to Britain after learning that a London court had approved a warrant for her arrest on war crimes charges. 

The delegation of senior Israel Defense Forces officers had been invited by the British army. Their visit was put off after British authorities said they could not assure Israeli Foreign Ministry officials that the delegation would not be arrested.

The warrants seek to charge Israeli officials with war crimes in connection with Israel’s Operation Cast Lead in Gaza last winter. In December, Hamas said that it was working with lawyers in Britain and other European countries to pursue war crimes cases against Israeli leaders.

During a meeting Tuesday in Jerusalem with British Attorney General Baroness Scotland of Asthal, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon protested the arrest warrants issued against senior Israeli officials.

"This will make it difficult for the two countries to maintain a normal relationship," Ayalon said.

The Baroness told Ayalon that the British government is considering options to solve the problem.

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