Barak with British PM Gordon Brown
Barak with British PM Gordon Brown Israel news photo: Flash 90

Defense Minister Ehud Barak did not leave Britain despite an Arab court petition to have him arrested this week, after consulting with advisers who told him the Arab move would fail.

Dr. Ruby Seibel, formerly Legal Adviser to the Foreign Ministry and currently a lecturer on international law in the Jerusalem Hebrew University, told Arutz Sheva's Hebrew service that Barak's decision to remain in Britain was a sound one. He also said Israel should cooperate with Jewish groups to harass Arab officials with legal motions to have them arrested abroad, too.

"I was one of the people who were consulted before his decision to stay and I told him very clearly that there was no chance that the Defense Minister would be arrested,” Dr. Seibel said. “He has immunity just like any other minister who is invited to Britain and enjoys diplomatic immunity. In addition, the British government has no desire to have its court used for political purposes, just as we would not want a European citizen to file charges against the Serbian government in the Supreme Court in Jerusalem.” 

Psychological warfare

Dr. Seibel said the Arab plaintiffs were trying to frighten Israel. “Those Palestinian organizations want to embarrass us, first and foremost,” he explained. “So they will not be able to do anything against ministers because they have immunity but it is quite possible to file motions against IDF officers and there is no quick solution for that.” 

"What the State of Israel needs to do is first of all, to file requests with various governments asking that they appear in our name and defend us, especially when you are dealing with friendly governments. I think that most countries can prevent the filing of such provocative motions at the first stage, before it reaches the court. Only in Britain is this not possible.” 

Dr. Siebel called upon the government of Israel and the Foreign Ministry to make use of pro-Jewish organizations and to follow the Arabs' example by filing similar motions against PA officials who visit abroad.

"We too should be bothering those terrorists, filing motions against Syrian government officials suspected of torture, and pestering Arab representatives so that they too undergo the same kind of harassment we may have to face in the near future,” he suggested.