Olmert asks Britain to protect Israeli officers from war crimes charges

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert asked the visiting British foreign minister this week to push for a law preventing the arrest in Britain of Israeli military officers on suspicion of war crimes against Palestinians, an Israeli official said Thursday.

British Foreign Minister Margaret Beckett responded favorably to the request, said Olmert's spokeswoman, Miri Eisin.

Israel has been seeking such protections for several years. In 2005, Doron Almog, a retired Israeli general, refused to get off a plane in London after he was tipped off he was about to be arrested by British authorities over a 2002 air strike in the Gaza Strip that killed a Hamas leader and 14 others, nine of them children. He flew straight home.

British police later canceled an arrest warrant against Almog, reports AP.

Beckett "was very aware of the issue and said they are trying to address and change it," Eisin said.

Karen Kaufman, a spokeswoman for the British Embassy in Tel Aviv, confirmed "the matter was raised." She declined further comment because Wednesday's meeting was private.

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