Israeli Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz has headed to Switzerland in a bid to end the threat of arrest warrants faced by Israeli war crimes suspects visiting the country, reported Ynet.
According to reports, Katz embarked on the official visit on Monday, “accompanied by a legal team”, in an effort “to find a solution to existing Swiss legislation that allows Israeli political and military officials to be arrested and interrogated for alleged war crimes”.
As part of the visit, Katz has held talks with Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis and President Ueli Maurer. Ynet stated that Katz will stress that Israel “will not tolerate any form of denial of its right to self-defence” or “threats to prosecute past or present Israeli leaders and military personnel”.
The report stated that Katz’s visit also “brings together senior Israeli jurists with their counterparts in Switzerland to find a suitable solution to the problematic legislation and to ensure Israeli representatives could visit the country peacefully.”
Last month, former prime minister Ehud Olmert was forced to cancel a scheduled visit to Switzerland after being notified that he faced arrest over alleged war crimes.
As prime minister, Olmert had ultimate responsibility for the Israeli assault on the occupied Gaza Strip in 2008, an offensive which saw a number of war crimes committed by Israeli forces.
That trip was ultimately cancelled “after the Foreign Ministry and the Justice Ministry received a statement from the Swiss authorities saying that Olmert would be taken in for questioning”.
According to Ynet, “Olmert initially insisted on traveling normally, but after consultations between the Justice and Foreign Ministries, it was decided that he should stay in Israel.”
A number of former Israeli officials have faced troubles with international arrest warrants, including Tzipi Livni, who was serving as foreign minister in Olmert’s government during the 2008 offensive.