Israel protests British ‘universal jurisdiction’ law


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel reportedly postponed a strategic dialogue with Britain to protest a law that allows for the prosecution of Israeli officials for alleged war crimes.

Strategic dialogue between Israel and Britain on defense and security issues occurs annually. This year’s strategic dialogue meeting, scheduled for last month in Britain, did not take place, the French news agency AFP reported.

The British law provides the country’s courts with "universal jurisdiction" to issue arrest warrants for alleged war crimes, including to visiting foreign politicians.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague arrived in Israel on Wednesday for meetings with top Israeli officials. The law is set to be high on the list of topics for discussion, Israeli officials have said. Hague also will meet with Palestinian leaders.

In Israel, Hague is expected to announce that a bill will be presented to the British Parliament to block courts from issuing arrest warrants for Israeli officials, Haaretz reported Wednesday.

Last week, Israeli Intelligence Minister Dan Meridor canceled a visit to London because of rumors that he would be arrested on charges stemming from Israel’s interception of a Gaza-bound flotilla from Turkey, which led to the death of nine Turkish citizens. 

A British court issued an arrest warrant for opposition leader Tzipi Livni last December for her actions as foreign minister during the Gaza war in the winter of 2008-09, forcing Livni to cancel her visit.

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