AJC Criticizes Spanish Refusal to Guarantee Israeli Parliamentarian's Immunity

Oct 26, 2010, 13:26 ET from American Jewish Committee

NEW YORK, Oct. 26 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- AJC criticized the refusal of the Spanish authorities to guarantee immunity from prosecution for Avi Dichter, a member of Israel's parliament and the former head of the Shin Bet security service. This move resulted in his withdrawal from a conference on Middle East peace in Madrid this coming weekend.

(Logo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20100816/AJCLOGO)

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20100816/AJCLOGO)

"Spain has become the latest country in Europe to cave in to politically-motivated threats to prosecute Israeli officials for so-called war crimes," said AJC Executive Director David Harris. "If Spain is a friend of Israel, and if Spain acknowledges that Israel, a fellow member of the United Nations, has the right to defend itself from outside aggression, then the Spanish government has only one option – to guarantee that Israelis will be able to conduct their business in Spain without arrest warrants hanging over them."

Dichter had planned to attend a conference organized by the Madrid Coalition, a project which works closely with the former Spanish Foreign Minister, Miguel Moratinos. The conference will be attended by senior officials of the Palestinian Authority.

In a letter to Trinidad Jimenez, the new Spanish Foreign Minister, Dichter stated: "It's absurd that representatives from the Palestinian Authority, who worked within the Palestinian security mechanism with God knows what kind of record, meet with no difficulties when they arrive in Spain. The Spanish must take responsibility for the situation and I am optimistic that we will find a solution."

During Operation Cast Lead, Israel's defensive operation against Hamas in Gaza in January 2009, Dichter was Minister of Public Security. Other leading figures from the Israeli government at the time, such as former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, have faced arrest threats elsewhere in the EU.

SOURCE American Jewish Committee