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70,000 sign petition calling on UK to end arms sales to Israel

April 16, 2024 at 3:47 pm

(L to R) Brendan O’Hara MP, Beth Winter MP, Richard Burgon MP, PSC Director Ben Jamal, War on Want Director Asad Rehman, Alison Thewliss MP and Chris Law MP outside 10 Downing Street on 16 April 2024 as they deliver a petition calling for an end to arms sales to Israel [PSC]

A petition calling on the UK government to halt arms exports to Israel has been handed in at 10 Downing Street by Palestine Solidarity Campaign and a cross party group of MPs.

Nearly 70,000 people have signed the petition which comes as Chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, MP Alicia Kearns, was recorded at an event saying: “The Foreign Office has received official legal advice that Israel has broken international humanitarian law, but the government has not announced it.”

According to the government’s arms export guidelines, it “will not grant a licence if it determines there is a clear risk that the items might be used to commit or facilitate a serious violation of international humanitarian law.”

Yesterday in the Commons, Zarah Sultana MP asked Prime Minister Rishi Sunak: “Was the Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee telling the truth – yes or no?” Sunak refused to deny the Foreign Office has received such legal advice, saying only that “Israel is committed and capable of complying with international humanitarian law.”

More than 1,000 lawyers, academics and retired judges, including the former President of the Supreme Court Baroness Hale, have signed an open letter saying that the continued supply of arms to Israel puts the UK in breach of international law. Two weeks ago a cross party group of 135 Parliamentarians wrote to the foreign and business secretaries, saying the case for a suspension of arms export licences to Israel is “overwhelming.”

READ: Staff at UK Department of Business and Trade threaten to walk out over arms sales to Israel

Canada, the Netherlands, Japan, Spain and Belgium have all announced they would stop shipping weapons to Israel. Despite this, Foreign Secretary David Cameron has said the UK will continue arms sales.

“Israel’s genocidal assault on Palestinians, and its attacks on Lebanon, Syria, and Iran, prove that arming it not only makes the UK complicit in violating international law but also the sparking of a regional war with catastrophic consequences. Continuing to arm Israel cannot help the cause of peace or justice in the Middle East. Any Government truly committed to upholding international law does not sell weapons to a state that continually breaches it,” PSC Director ben Jamal said.

More than 34,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza in six months, most of the civil infrastructure in Gaza has been destroyed and the UN has issued stark warnings that famine is imminent for the population of 2.3 million people. It is in this context that the International Court of Justice (ICJ) concluded there was plausible evidence that Israel is conducting a genocide.