02 November 2010
Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor has canceled an appearance at a fundraising dinner in London over fears he could be arrested by UK authorities, the ‘Jewish Chronicle’ reports. It is believed the Israeli British Justice Ministry warned the Likud politician that an arrest warrant might be issued if he entered Britain. Meridor was due to speak at dinner on Monday night, replacing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who canceled last week due to the delicate state of the peace negotiations, according to the weekly newspaper, citing Israeli government sources.
Arguments over alterations to the universal jurisdiction legislation have continued since the new British government came to power in May. Justice Secretary Ken Clarke of the Conservative Party announced in July that the coalition would table a legislation to make the issuing of an arrest warrant in response to a private prosecution for war crimes more difficult. The British government has repeatedly said it would act as soon as parliamentary time allows to implement the changes, but said this could take until the end of November or December.
Lorna Fitzsimons, the chief executive officer of BICOM, an independent organization devoted to creating a more supportive environment for Israel in the UK, said on Meridor’s cancelation “Israeli law officers did not think they should take the risk. Foreign Secretary William Hague intervened and the British government tried to make it work. They are committed to changing the law and it cannot come soon enough.”
British Education Minister Michael Gove has expressed disappointment at the cancelation of Meridor's trip, saying during the BICOM event that the Education and Justice ministries were determined to change the legislation allowing the arrests of senior Israeli officials. Gove also said that it was unfortunate that Meridor could not attend the event and present his positions.
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