Israel minister calls off visit to Britain over fear of arrest over 'war crimes'
By Mail Foreign Service Last updated at 7:28 AM on 07th October 2009
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Moshe Yaalon cancelled his trip to the UK over concerns he could face arrest
An Israeli Cabinet minister has called off a visit to Britain because of concerns he could be arrested on suspicion of committing war crimes.
The decision by Moshe Yaalon, a former military chief who is now a vice prime minister, came a week after Palestinian activists tried unsuccessfully to have Israel's defence minister arrested during a visit to Britain.
A spokesman said Mr Yaalon decided not to take up his invitation to a charity fundraising event 'to avoid playing into the hands of anti-Israel propaganda'.
Several Israeli officials have been threatened with legal action in Britain under the legal principle of 'universal jurisdiction', which states that the most serious crimes can be prosecuted here, even if they were allegedly committed abroad.
Palestinian organisations have pursued Israeli officers who took part in operations in which civilians were killed. So far, they have failed to have anyone arrested.
Last week, they used the principle to demand the arrest of defence minister Ehud Barak, while he attended the Labour Party conference.
Mr Yaalon backed out of his trip after lawyers advised him he faced possible charges over his involvement in the 2002 assassination of a Hamas leader, which killed 14 including nine children.
Moshe Yaalon's decision to call off a visit to Britain comes a week after Palestinian activists demanded the arrest of Ehud Barak, pictured
Ehud Barak was greeted with anti-Israel demonstrations when he visited Britain last week for the Labour Party conference in Brighton