Olmert cancels flight over fears of arrest

Former PM told he could be arrested for war crimes if he lands in Zurich, Switzerland.

Gary Willig ,

Ehud Olmert
Ehud Olmert
Yoni Kempinski

Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert cancelled a flight to Switzerland over fears he could be arrested for alleged war crimes.

Over the weekend, the Foreign Ministry and the Justice Ministry received a statement from the Swiss authorities that once Olmert landed in Zurich he would be taken for questioning on suspicion of war crimes during Operation Cast Lead.

Olmert, who was prime minister during the 2009 conflict with the Hamas terrorist organization which runs the Gaza Strip, told authorities: "I led a war against terrorist organizations against Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and after the war six heads of state and foreign ministers came here to support the State of Israel."

However, the authorities told Olmert that the situation was not so simple. After a discussion between legal and security officials, the former told him that if he traveled, he might be arrested, and this could lead to a great diplomatic embarrassment for Israel. Olmert decided to cancel his trip.

Anti-Israel activists have attempted for years to use European universal jurisdiction laws to arrest current and former Israeli politicians.

In 2017, the Belgian Foreign Ministry warned former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni that she would be detained and questioned in connection with war crimes charges if she landed in Brussels.

A British court issued an arrest warrant against Livni in 2009 in connection with Operation Cast Lead.