FM Katz Seeking to Change Swiss Law Re Arrest of Israeli Officials

Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz. (Miriam Alster/Flash90, File)

Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz is in Switzerland, speaking to officials about the possibility of canceling a Swiss law that allows for the arrest of Israelis who are accused of “war crimes” by Arabs, a report in Yediot Acharonot said. Under the law, Swiss law enforcement officials can execute arrest orders for individuals who are named by petitions to the International Criminal Court and local Swiss courts by Palestinians who are accused of killing terrorists or causing harm to civilian populations.

In recent months, former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was forced to cancel a business trip to Switzerland, after being warned by Swiss officials that a warrant had been issued for his arrest in connection with one of these petitions. The officials said that he was wanted for questioning on his role in 2007’s Operation Cast Lead. A similar petition presented to Swiss courts resulted in an arrest warrant for former Foreign Minister Tzippy Livni.

Katz met Monday with Swiss foreign ministry officials, and on Tuesday is set to meet with Ueli Maurer, president of the Swiss Confederation. Katz has been telling officials that the petitions are unfair, as the Israeli “defendants” were engaged in defending the country against terrorists, and the petitions do not reflect this context. Katz is being accompanied on the trip by Israeli experts on international law, in an effort to develop a system that will allow Israeli officials and soldiers to travel abroad freely.

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