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Israel Snubs UK Over War Crimes Law

But in other news, James Bond may go to Tel Aviv

Dan Klein
November 04, 2010
Hague in the Holy Land today.(Gali Tibbon/AFP/Getty Images)
Hague in the Holy Land today.(Gali Tibbon/AFP/Getty Images)

British Foreign Secretary William Hague is having an awkward time on his first trip to Israel. Only a few days after Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor canceled a London trip for fear of arrest, Israeli officials confirmed that they would “postpone” an annual high level British-Israeli military dialogue planned for later this month to avoid falling afoul of the U.K.’s “universal jurisdiction” law.

Oh snap! While Israel is denying that the cancellation is intended to send a message, it doesn’t seem like many are buying it. The dis reflects Israel’s disappointment that the law has not changed, as British politicians have promised it would be, ever since an arrest warrant was issued for opposition leader Tzipi Livni last December. The English papers, on the other hand, were not amused by the snub. The Daily Mail suggested it was “an ambush” and the Financial Times called the matter an “embarrassing spat” which is “irritating British officials.”

Hague for his part seemed to take the cancellation in stride, promising that the law would change as promised, but, “We will do that in our own way and within our own time frame.” The British Embassy put out a statement saying a first draft of the amendment will be put before parliament in a few weeks, and diplomats say the changes will be ready by next summer.

The much less contentious news (though that might be wishful thinking) from the trip is that Hague and Foreign Minster Lieberman managed to sign a ten-year-in-the-making agreement that makes Israel a favored location for the British Film industry, which is the third largest in the world. Apparently this increases the chance of the Holy Land making a cameo in the next Bond film. Hopefully by then Israelis will be able to make the London premiere.

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