In his visit to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories this week, British Foreign Secretary William Hague reported being ‘ambushed’ by Israeli officials who cancelled a high-level security briefing with Hague in response to a British threat to arrest an Israeli official for war crimes.Hague said he resented this move by Israel, since the British coalition government had already agreed to change the ‘universal jurisdiction law’ which allows for the prosecution of foreign citizens who have engaged in crimes against humanity.
Israeli officials have faced increasing threats of arrest by a variety of countries which use the universal jurisdiction law. According to Amnesty International, the law of universal jurisdiction is a requirement for all states who are signatories to the Convention against Torture and the Inter-American Convention, which states that whenever a person suspected of torture is found in their territory, they must submit the case to their prosecuting authorities for the purposes of prosecution, or to extradite that person.
Most recently, Israeli Cabinet Minister Dan Meridor had to cancel a trip to England November 1st after British intelligence officials warned him that he could face an arrest warrant upon entry into the UK.
Meridor is just the latest in a string of Israeli officials who have been cited for potential war crimes, including former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, former Israeli defence minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, former Defense chief-of-staff Moshe Ya’alon, former air force chief Dan Halutz, and former Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Livni, among others. Most were cited for the ongoing Israeli military occupation of Palestine, and attacks against Palestinians, while Ariel Sharon was cited for his role in the Sabra and Shatila massacre in Lebanon in 1982.
The British Foreign Secretary’s trip to the region this week was also criticized by Israeli officials due to the Secretary’s decision to meet with Palestinians who recently lost their homes to violent Israeli settler takeovers in East Jerusalem.