PARIS - Retired Maj. Gen. Danny Rothschild was forced to cut short a visit to London this week after the Israeli embassy warned him he could be arrested if he stayed in the country.
Last weekend, former Labor leader MK Amir Peretz was forced to cut short a visit to London for the same reason. Perez visited the United Kingdom despite warnings that he would face an arrest warrant there, and ultimately fled the country hours before one was issued.
Rothschild, who coordinated Israel Defense Forces operations in the Palestinian territories in the early 1990s during the first intifada, entered the UK without incident earlier this week. On Monday, he gave a lecture to a large crowd at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) in Whitehall.
He was due to give a speech in parliament on Tuesday, organized by the Henry Jackson Society, and to appear before a think tank.
Instead, he canceled both events and quickly left the country, taking the Eurostar to France in order to avoid passport control at Heathrow and flying back to Israel on Tuesday night. Sources said Rothschild initially wanted to stay in the country as planned and give both lectures, but the embassy convinced him to leave, in order to preempt potential problems.
Several media reports Monday had questioned why the United Kingdom was giving Rothschild "the red carpet treatment" after Islamic Movement leader Sheikh Raed Salah was detained there.
"There was fear that the Home Office, not wanting to seem partial, would try to balance out the Salah arrest by arresting Rothschild," said the source.
The embassy in London declined to comment.
A lawyer who is active in lodging universal jurisdiction warrants in Britain would not deny or confirm whether Rothschild or Peretz were targets.
He did say, however, that arrest warrants were requested not as "publicity stunts" but in genuine cases that victims wished to pursue.
In December, a bill gave the director of public prosecutions the power to issue universal jurisdiction warrants. Previously, individual magistrates had held that power.
In practice, this means it would be much harder - although not impossible - for courts to issue the arrest warrants. The new system would also delay proceedings, so any suspect would have ample time to evade arrest by leaving the country.
However, the bill still needs to be approved in parliament to take effect, a process that could take months.
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