HomeForeignUK Won’t Stop Arms Exports To Israel

UK Won’t Stop Arms Exports To Israel

Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron has reiterated that UK arms sales to Israel would not be suspended.

The announcement follows mounting pressure on the government over its weapons trade with Israel, after an air strike which killed aid workers and the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

Ministers have been asked whether legal advice deems Israel to have breached international humanitarian law.

If proved, it could ultimately bar arms sales from the UK.

On 8 March, Lord Cameron said he would get new advice on the issue “in the coming days”.

Earlier on Tuesday, at a State Department news conference in Washington, the BBC asked Lord Cameron why, a month later, there had still been no announcement on a decision. He confirmed he had now reviewed the “most recent advice” about Israeli conduct, saying: “The latest assessment leaves our position on export licences unchanged.”

Lord Cameron said: “Let me be clear, though, we continue to have to have grave concerns around the humanitarian access issue in Gaza, both for the period that was assessed and subsequently.

“So far, no like-minded countries have taken the decision to suspend existing arms export licences to Israel and I’d add that Israel remains a vital defensive security partner to the UK,” he added.

But Labour’s shadow foreign secretary, David Lammy, suggested the government’s position was “simply not good enough”.

“David Cameron is still hiding from scrutiny, by stating that arms sales will continue without even publishing a summary of the legal advice or offering any rationale behind his decision”, he said.

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, meanwhile, said the US had not been given a date by Israel for its threatened ground offensive into the city of Rafah. The Biden administration has repeatedly said it opposes a full-scale assault on the city, which is home to 1.4 million displaced Palestinians.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he has set a date for an operation but has not clarified exactly when that is. Israel says it is targeting four Hamas battalions that remain in Rafah.

Mr Blinken said the US was having “an ongoing conversation with Israel about any Rafah operation”.

The BBC asked him about last week’s air strike by Israel that killed seven workers from the food charity World Central Kitchen, and whether the family of Jacob Flickinger, a US-Canadian citizen among those killed, could expect meaningful accountability.

He said Israel had taken some “initial steps in that direction”, including sacking two senior commanders who were engaged in what he called a “horrible incident”.

“But we’re in the process, an ongoing process of looking at the looking at the conclusions and talking both to Israel and humanitarian organisations about it,” Mr Blinken added.

Lord Cameron was also asked to divulge the details of his dinner with former President Donald Trump on Monday, which he dismissed saying it was a “private meeting”.

The pair dined at Mr Trump’s Florida estate Mar-a-Lago, and Lord Cameron said they “discussed a range of important geopolitical subjects”.

He argued there was precedent for foreign secretaries to meet opposition candidates during visits abroad.

BBC

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