The British government has responded to citizens who called for the arrest of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he visits the United Kingdom in September, after an online petition garnered more than 70,000 signatures this month. British citizens condemned Netanyahu for "war crimes" against Palestinians during the Israeli military’s 50-day war in the Gaza Strip in the Aug. 7 petition, which was created through the Parliament's official website.

British officials dismissed the petition and noted that visiting heads of state cannot be arrested or detained under international law.

"The British Government has invited Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as head of the Israeli Government, to visit the UK in September," the statement said. "Under UK and international law, certain holders of high-ranking office in a State, including Heads of State, Heads of Government and Ministers for Foreign Affairs are entitled to immunity, which includes inviolability and complete immunity from criminal jurisdiction."

The statement continued:

"We recognise that the conflict in Gaza last year took a terrible toll. As the Prime Minister said, we were all deeply saddened by the violence and the UK has been at the forefront of international reconstruction efforts. However the Prime Minister was clear on the UK’s recognition of Israel’s right to take proportionate action to defend itself, within the boundaries of international humanitarian law. We condemn the terrorist tactics of Hamas who fired rockets on Israel, built extensive tunnels to kidnap and murder, and repeatedly refused to accept ceasefires. Israel, like any state, has the right to ensure its own security, as its citizens also have the right to live without fear of attack.

The government supports negotiations for a two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on 1967 borders, according to the statement, which added that U.K. officials will reinforce this message to the Israeli prime minister when he visits.




Any British citizen can post a petition on the Parliament's website. After 10,000 signatures the government must respond to the petition, and after 100,000 signatures the petition must be considered for debate in Parliament.