A petition calling for Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s arrest when Netanyahu visits the UK this week has gotten over 100,000 signatures and now must be discussed in Parliament.
On August 7, the online petition was uploaded to the official website of the United Kingdom Parliament.
The petition says, citing Netanyahu’s visit which is scheduled for September 10 that “Under international law he should be arrested for war crimes upon arrival in the U.K. for the massacre of over 2000 civilians in 2014.”
As of the morning of September 8, the petition had almost 107,000 signatures, having passed the 100,000 signature mark over the weekend.
In response to the petition, the British government said that under U.K. and international law, the visiting heads of foreign governments, like Netanyahu, have immunity from the legal process and cannot be arrested or detained.
“We recognize that the conflict in Gaza last year took a terrible toll,” the government said. “As the Prime Minister said, we were all deeply saddened by the violence and the U.K. has been at the forefront of international reconstruction efforts. However, the Prime Minister was clear on the U.K.’s recognition of Israel’s right to take proportionate action to defend itself, within the boundaries of international humanitarian law.”
The House of Commons has yet to set a date for parliamentary debate on the petition.
On September 7, a group of union leaders, three British lawmakers, and prominent activists published a letter in The Guardian newspaper condemning Netanyahu’s visit.
“Our prime minister should not be welcoming the man who presides over Israel’s occupation and its siege of Gaza,” the letter said, in part. “We call on him to instead impose immediate sanctions and an arms embargo on Israel until it complies with international law and ends the blockade and the occupation.”
In addition, on September 9, pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli demonstrators conflicted outside British Prime Minister David Cameron’s London home ahead of a visit by Netanyahu.
According to an AFP photographer, police officers separated the two groups and took away at least two protesters after minor fights and chanting by both sides.
Approximately 400 pro-Palestinian activists gathered outside Downing Street to protest Netanyahu’s visit, who will arrive on September 9, but will not officially meet with Cameron until September 10. Israel’s Channel 2 television showed activists grabbing an Israeli flag out of the hands of a pro-Israel protester and trampling on it.
The activists chanted “arrest Netanyahu” and “war criminal,” with some holding up signs that called for an end to the blockade on Gaza in addition to images of Netanyahu plastered with the words “child killer.”
Other activists waved flags, including at least two flags from Lebanon’s powerful Shiite Hezbollah movement.
On the other side were approximately 100 pro-Israeli demonstrators, with many of them waving the Israeli flag.
Police would not say how many protesters had been arrested.