October 29, 2009 - 12:00am

Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya'alon on Wednesday said he is "willing to forgo visits to European capitals and to allow the Israel Defense Forces the freedom to act."

The former IDF chief of staff is one of several current and former senior Israeli officials whom pro-Palestinian groups have sought to put on trial over the assassination of senior Hamas terrorist Salah Shehadeh in July 2002. The attack also killed 14 civilians.

Ya'alon recently canceled a trip to Britain for fear of being arrested there. On Wednesday he told Army Radio that he doesn't see travel cancellations as a "big loss."

Earlier on Wednesday, attorney Daniel Machover, who is spearheading an effort to have Israeli officials be arrested and tried for war crimes, called for Ya'alon to be arrested immediately in any European capital he visits.

Ya'alon also addressed the Goldstone report, which accuses Israel and Hamas militants of committing war crimes during their winter conflict in Gaza, and the task force Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently convened to respond to it.

"Israel is transparent," Ya'alon said. "The IDF has recently conducted five serious probes, the criminal investigation division opened an investigation into credit card theft. There is a team that will respond to the report without having to stop the army in order to do so."

Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon will not shorten his visit to Britain despite efforts by pro-Palestinian organizations to petition for his arrest there, Army Radio reported on Tuesday.

The Israeli embassy in London plans on beefing up Ayalon's security detail, according to Army Radio. This is the first time pro-Palestinian groups have sought to take legal steps against non-military Israeli officials, Army Radio reported.

Last month, British authorities rejected a petition to arrest Defense Minister Ehud Barak on suspicion of war crimes.


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017