Peres slams UK law jeopardizing IDF officers

President tells British FM Israel uses "similar tactics" as British forces in Iraq, Afghanistan.

peres talks in London 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
peres talks in London 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
President Shimon Peres met with British Foreign Minister David Miliband on Thursday evening and expressed Israel's displeasure over the Universal Jurisdiction law, which has been exploited by pro-Palestinian activists to try to arrest former IDF personnel on "war crimes" charges when they visit the UK. "The Israeli army is peace-seeking and makes huge efforts not to harm civilians," Peres protested to the foreign minister. "Britain and the US use similar tactics [to Israel's] in their operations in Iraq and Afghanistan." In 2005, Maj.-Gen. (res.) Doron Almog, former OC Southern Command, avoided arrest at London's Heathrow Airport. He was warned not to disembark from his El Al flight as British detectives were waiting to arrest him for allegedly ordering the demolition of Palestinian homes in Gaza in 2002. Using a loophole in Britain's Universal Jurisdiction legislation, Palestinian campaigners have filed private criminal complaints of "war crimes" against military personnel, even if the military personnel are citizens of other countries and the alleged charges were not committed on British soil. In 2006, Gaza Division commander Brig.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi, who was scheduled to study at the Royal College of Defense Studies in London, was warned by an IDF judge that he could be arrested on arrival. Kochavi subsequently canceled his trip to the UK. Former Shin Bet chief Avi Dichter also canceled a trip last year out of concern that a warrant might be issued for his arrest. Ambassador to Britain Ron Prosor said earlier this year that the law was detrimental to relations between Israel and the UK and that officials were working to amend the law. Peres made his views known ahead of a major conference on Universal Jurisdiction in Whitehall on Wednesday, with experts and academics from Israel and other countries taking part. The one-day conference is being organized by the Henry Jackson Society, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and Legacy Heritage Fund. The British government has, in the past, promised to review the law.