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Over 130 British parliamentarians urge gov’t to cease arms sales to Israel

March 27, 2024 at 4:45 pm

Israel’s fighter jets [Israeli Air Force / Wikipedia]

Members of Parliament (MPs) and ministers from the House of Lords have urged the British government to cease arms sales to Israel in response to international pressure against Israel’s actions in Gaza.

Over 130 parliamentarians have endorsed a letter addressed to Foreign Secretary David Cameron, calling for a ban on arms exports to Israel.

The letter, headed by Labour MP Zarah Sultana, garnered signatures from 107 MPs and 27 peers, including former Labour Middle East Minister Peter Hain, Scottish National Party (SNP) Westminster leader Stephen Flynn, and former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, reported the Guardian.

Among the signatories were Conservative politician Nosheena Mobarik, Foreign Office Permanent Secretary John Kerr, and former Labour Party minister Tessa Blackstone. The letter received widespread support, with backing from 46 Labour MPs and nearly the entire SNP parliamentary party.

Describing UK arms sales to Israel as “totally unacceptable,” the letter highlighted the use of British-made weaponry in the Gaza Strip.

Moreover, referencing a UN inquiry, the letter pointed out that an F-16 fighter jet, incorporating UK components, was likely involved in the bombing of British doctors in Gaza.

READ: Israel executed 13 children in Gaza in front of their families, says human rights NGO

The further letter recalls that during two prior escalations of conflict in Gaza, UK administrations halted arms sales to Israel. However, it points out that despite the current escalation witnessing a significantly higher level of violence from the Israeli military, the UK government has not taken any action.

Today, the scale of violence committed by the Israeli military is vastly more deadly, but the UK government has failed to act.

The UK has continued to provide military support to Israel despite international concerns surrounding possible war crimes and genocide being committed by Tel Aviv against the Palestinians in Gaza, with UK manufacturers supplying 15 per cent of the components for F-35 fighter jets.

The Ministry of Defence also recently revealed that nine Israeli military aircraft have been authorised to land at and depart from UK bases, and approximately 50 Royal Air Force aircraft have made flights to Israel since 7 October.

Hundreds of politicians from 12 countries have called for an arms embargo on Israel, deeming it a necessary action on both moral and legal grounds. This movement comes after the Court of Appeal in The Hague mandated the Netherlands to halt the export of F-35 components, highlighting concerns over potential complicity in Israel’s ongoing human rights violations.

Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Melanie Joly, also announced last week the halt of arms exports to Israel in light of the ongoing aggression on the besieged enclave.

The UK government’s guidelines for exporting arms include the same obligation to that used by the Dutch court in the Netherlands, mandating that exports must be stopped if there’s a significant chance the weapons might be utilised in serious violations of international humanitarian law.

This, activists have said, prompts important questions about the government’s commitment to its legal commitments. Asked about arms exports to Israel, government officials have repeatedly said they have been assured by Israeli officials that their army is abiding by international humanitarian laws.

WATCH: UK MP says UK should not be supplying weapons or medical supplies to Israeli soldiers waging war on Gaza