IDF Delegation Cancels Trip to UK

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JERUSALEM, Israel - A delegation of Israel Defense Forces officers declined an invitation by the British army after the government said they could not guarantee their safety.

The IDF canceled the trip when Britain told Israel's Foreign Ministry they could not promise the IDF officers - a colonel, lieutenant colonel and a major - they might not face arrest warrants.

"Should we not get the appropriate securities and if the British law remains unchanged, Israeli officers and senior officials will not be able to travel to Britain, which would undermine the good relations between two countries that share common values and interests," Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said.

Last month, opposition leader and Kadima chairwoman Tzipi Livni canceled a speaking engagement at a Jewish National Fund conference in the UK.

Livni feared arrest after a British judge issued an international warrant for her, alleging war crimes for last winter's military incursion in the Gaza Strip, when she served as foreign minister in the Olmert government.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Foreign Secretary David Milliband both spoke out against the incident.

Brown told Livni she was "always welcome" in Great Britain, while Millibrand said he would urge the parliament to add a stipulation requiring the attorney general's signature before a judge could issue such a warrant.

Britain's growing Muslim population is enjoying increasing influence in the government.

In a letter to Milliband, the Muslim Council of Britain urged him to reconsider amending the law.

"You appear to be committing the government to the path of selective compliance with the enforcement of international law," wrote Muslim Council General Secretary Mohammad Abdul Bari.

"This is surely not in the best interests of our country as it will add a further dimension to the double standards that our government is seen to have in relation to the politics of the Middle East," he wrote.

Meanwhile, British Attorney General Baroness Scotland of Asthal is in Israel this week, where she will meet with Justice Minister Yaacov Ne'eman and other government officials to discuss some of the issues straining Israeli-British relations.

The baroness will also speak at Hebrew University on Tuesday evening. Her timely topic is, Lawfare - Times for Rules of Engagement? 

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YNet news and The Jerusalem Post contributed to this report.

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