0529 GMT June 16, 2019
A petition posted on British parliament’s website has urged the UK government to arrest Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for ‘war crimes’ when he arrives in London this Wednesday on a state visit, the Gulf News said.
According to the news website, the petition has received more than 104,000 signatures which makes it incumbent on the British parliament to consider debating it as it does to any petition that garners support from 100,000 people or more, IRNA reported.
“Benjamin Netanyahu is to hold talks in London this September. Under international law he should be arrested for war crimes upon arrival in the UK for the massacre of over 2000 civilians in 2014,” says the petition published by Damian Moran, an anti-Israel activist, on August 7.
The UK parliament said it considers all petitions that get more than 100,000 signatures for a debate.
However, it stressed, the British government has already dismissed the petition and announced on the same webpage that “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.”
According to the Mondoweiss website, the 100,000-plus mark does not guarantee a debate.
The site pointed out that since the establishment of the UK Directgov E-Petition site two years ago, almost half the petitions submitted by the public have been rejected, and only 10 have gotten a response from the government, and thus far, none have resulted in a parliamentary debate.
Netanyahu’s office has announced that he will visit the UK and meet with his British counterpart David Cameron to discuss key regional issues. The arrest for war crimes petition has become particularly active after Netanyahu’s visit to the UK was officially announced.
On its part the British government has given Netanyahu all the material comfort he needs to make the visit. “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,” the British government said in a statement.
Moran said he was aware that the UK authorities would not arrest Netanyahu during his visit. “I honestly do not 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 do not want him here,” he told Al Jazeera.
Palestinian commentators and political analysts said they were happy with such petitions that pursue the Israeli political leaders abroad. “Their crimes should [haunt] them wherever they go,” said Dr Abdul Sattar Qasem, a West Bank based political analyst. “Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders should be reminded of their crimes and the petition is a model of behaviour that reminds the world that forgiving of killers is impossible.”
He said even if Netanyahu is not arrested in the UK, Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims in the UK should play a role and take part in protests against his visit, and send him a message that “his crimes in Gaza and ill treatment to the Palestinians are unforgettable,” the Gulf News concluded.