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July 24, 2019 4:36 pm

Former Israeli PM Olmert Cancels Trip to Switzerland Over Fear of War Crimes Arrest

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Photo: Reuters / Debbie Hill / Pool.

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has called off a planned visit to Switzerland after he was warned that he could be arrested there for war crimes.

The Israeli news site Mako reported that Olmert was scheduled to arrive in Zurich on Monday, but was warned by the Swiss Foreign and Justice Ministries that he would be detained on arrival and questioned.

Despite this, Olmert intended to go ahead with the trip, but was cautioned by Israel’s own Defense and Justice Ministries that doing so would be inadvisable, leading to the cancellation.

Olmert was going to argue, if arrested, that his conduct during the Second Lebanon War (2006) and Operation Cast Lead (2008-9) was against terrorist organizations and that he received widespread international support in both conflicts.

He was told, however, that the fact of an arrest in and of itself would be a major embarrassment for Israel, prompting him to nix the trip.

Palestinians and their supporters often attempt to make use of international and national laws on war crimes and other infractions to harass top Israeli officials, a practice known as “lawfare.”

Previously, ex-Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni had been threatened with arrest on a visit to Britain. Despite these concerns, Livni eventually traveled to the country without incident.

Former Defense Minister Amir Peretz has faced similar threats, and narrowly escaped being served an arrest warrant on a visit to London.

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