by Stephen Oryszczuk

The Government has said it will not arrest Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for “war crimes” in Gaza when he visits London next month – despite 82,000 petitioners asking authorities to do so.

In its written response, a Foreign and Commonwealth Office statement read: “Under UK and international law, visiting head of government, such as Prime Minister Netanyahu, have immunity from legal process, and cannot be arrested or detained.”

The petition originated last month and would trigger a parliamentary debate if it reaches 100,000 signatures, with organisers saying Netanyahu should be held responsible for the “massacre” of over 2,000 people in Gaza last year.

Activist Damian Moran said: “It is a clear message to him that there’s a massive amount of people who don’t want him here.”

Sir Eric Pickles, the former minister and current chairman of Conservative Friends of Israel, said the petition was “absurd” and would have “no impact” on relations between the two states. The Israeli embassy described it as a “meaningless publicity stunt”.