Skip To Content

Fearing Arrest, Ya’alon Cancels Britain Trip

An Israeli deputy prime minister canceled a planned trip to Britain out of fear that he would be arrested.

Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya’alon was scheduled to attend a fund-raising dinner by the British Jewish National Fund on behalf of Benji’s Home, for Israeli soldiers with no family in the country. But the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s legal department advised Ya’alon that pro-Palestinian groups could ask a British court to have him arrested and put on trial for war crimes, specifically the assassination of a senior Hamas terrorist in 2002, in which 14 civilians were killed.

Ya’alon served as chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces at the time of the assassination. He left the post in 2005.

The Israeli legal team warned that despite his being a government minister, he likely would not be given diplomatic immunity. A lawsuit could be filed under the 1988 Criminal Justice Act, which gives courts in England and Wales universal jurisdiction in war crimes cases.

Ya’alon’s spokesman announced the cancellation of the trip on Monday.

The cancellation comes less than a week after a British attorney filed a lawsuit against Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak on behalf of several Palestinian families who were victims of Israel’s military offensive in Gaza, on suspicion of committing war crimes.

A London judge ruled that while Barak’s war crimes were well documented, he enjoyed diplomatic immunity on the trip, during which he met with Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Foreign Secretary David Miliband to discuss the Middle East peace process, Gaza and Iran.

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.