Call to arrest Benjamin Netanyahu for ‘war crimes’ should now be discussed by MPs after a petition gathered over 100,000 signatures on the Parliament website.
Petitions that garner more than 100,000 signatures are considered for debate in parliament.. This campaign reached its target on Saturday morning.
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Referring to Netanyahu’s scheduled September visit, the petition requested “Under international law, he should be arrested for war crimes upon arrival in the UK for the massacre of over 2,000 civilians in 2014”
Those civilians were Palestinians who were killed by Israeli forces during the 50-day Operation Protective Edge which destroyed much of Gaza.
As the online petition was reaching the 80,000 mark, the UK government issued a statement saying that the Israeli prime minister was ‘immune’ from arrest.
RT reports: However the British government had already dismissed the petition to arrest the Israeli PM. “Under UK and international law, visiting heads of foreign governments, such as Prime Minister Netanyahu, have immunity from legal process, and cannot be arrested or detained,” it said in a statement.
The government also said that during Operation Protective Edge in 2014 Israel had a right to defend itself by taking proportionate action within the boundaries of the humanitarian law. It also condemned “the terrorist tactics of Hamas who fired rockets on Israel, built extensive tunnels to kidnap and murder, and repeatedly refused to accept ceasefires”.
“The UK is a close friend of Israel and we enjoy an excellent bilateral relationship, built on decades of cooperation between our two countries across a range of fields,” the statement concluded.
However the petition’s organizer himself was skeptical about the possibility of arrest and said his intent was different.
“I honestly don’t expect him to get arrested because of the universal jurisdiction laws … it is a clear message to him that there’s a massive amount of people who don’t want him here,” he told Al Jazeera.
Netanyahu is due to visit London this week where he will meet with British Prime Minister David Cameron.
Major security preparations are underway ahead of his UK visit amid fears of protests over his record on Gaza and the treatment of Palestinians.
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