Dichter Cancels Spain Visit Over Arrest Fears


JERUSALEM (JTA) — An Israeli lawmaker canceled a trip to Spain over fears that he would be arrested.

Avi Dichter, a Knesset member from the Kadima Party and the former head of Israel’s Shin Bet intelligence agency, was scheduled to attend an international peace summit in Spain. He changed his mind after Spain would not grant him immunity from arrest or prosecution during his time in the country.

Dichter is under threat of legal action in Spain and other countries for ordering the assassination of Hamas leader Salah Shehade, which took place when Dichter was head of Shin Bet, and for his involvement in Operation Cast Lead in Gaza as minister of public security.

The meeting, organized by The Madrid Coalition, invited Israeli and Palestinian representatives to take part in a summit focusing on the peace process, Ynet reported.

In a letter to Spain’s foreign minister, Dichter wrote that "This isn’t the first time I have come up against a dangerous situation like this one, where I go to a country and am unsure of my being able to leave it without being arrested. It is important to remember that that this isn’t just dangerous for Avi Dichter. An arrest of this kind has dangerous national repercussions.

"It’s absurd that representatives from the Palestinian Authority, who worked within the Palestinian security mechanism with God knows what kind of record, meet with no difficulties when they arrive in Spain. The Spanish must take responsibility for the situation and I am optimistic that we will find a solution."

Several Israeli politicians, including opposition leader Tzipi Livni, have been forced to cancel scheduled trips to European countries over arrest warrants alleging war crimes.