An Israeli cabinet minister has turned down an invitation to visit Britain next month after he was warned he might face arrest on suspicion of war crimes.
Moshe Ya’alon, vice-prime minister and strategic affairs minister, was invited by the Jewish National Fund to an event in London to raise money for a group that supports Israeli lone soldiers – troops who have no family in Israel.
Ya’alon has not visited Britain for several years and turned to the foreign ministry’s legal department for advice. They warned him not to travel for fear he might be arrested over an incident dating back to July 2002, when he was chief of staff of the Israeli military. At that time an Israeli jet bombed a house in Gaza, killing Salah Shehadeh, the then leader of the Hamas military wing. A further 14 civilians, including Shehadeh’s wife and several children, died in the attack.