MPs across parties call for suspension of arms sales to Israel

24 May 2018 - 10:00am
Press release

A cross-party group of MPs have called for a suspension of arms sales to Israel in an Early Day Motion tabled on 23 May 2018.

MPs from across political parties have expressed dismay over the UK Government’s response to Israel’s killing of unarmed protesters in Gaza, with particular questions on the legality of UK arms sales to Israel.

In an Early Day Motion tabled by Richard Burden MP, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Palestine, MPs expressed concern that the Government stated it does not collect data on military equipment exported from Britain after sale.

The UK Government has approved export licences for millions of pounds worth of arms and arms components to Israel in the past year alone. Categories of approved items include sniper rifles, pistols, weapons sights, targeting equipment, ammunition for small arms, and other items similar to those used by Israeli forces in deadly attacks on unarmed protesters.

Responding to the news, Ryvka Barnard, Senior Militarism and Security Campaigner at War on Want said:

“MPs are absolutely right to call for a suspension of arms sales to Israel in light of its use of excessive and unlawful force against unarmed Palestinians, resulting in over 100 dead and thousands injured. It’s shocking that this has to be called for through an Early Day Motion, as arms exports to Israel should have been suspended as a matter of course. The UK’s own arms export controls stipulate that weapons and military equipment should not be approved for export if there is a risk that it might be used in serious violations of international law. If these policies were implemented, the result would quite rightly be a de facto arms embargo on Israel.

She continued:

“Palestinians have every right to protest the appalling conditions they have been subjected to, and to demand their UN-sanctioned rights as refugees to return to their homes. It is devastating that calling for their basic rights has again made Palestinians the targets of brutal and calculated military violence.

“The UK Government should be standing up for Palestinian human rights, not selling arms to the state which systematically violates them. Suspending arms sales is the legal and moral first step towards ensuring that justice, human rights, and accountability mechanisms for victims of violence are put in place.”

In just one day, over 3000 War on Want supporters lobbied their MPs to support the motion. 

Last week, the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva voted in favour of an independent war crimes inquiry to Gaza to investigate Israel’s lethal reaction to peaceful protests, in which Israeli forces killed over 100 Palestinians. However, the UK abstained from the vote, drawing criticism of the Government from MPs.

Government ministers had said just days before the vote that the UK would support an independent probe, but the Government is now calling on Israel to conduct an investigation into its own alleged war crimes instead, against the international consensus.

Contacts

Ryvka Barnard, Senior Campaigns Officer – Militarism and Security, War on Want
rbarnard@waronwant.org / 07983 550 728

Notes to Editors

Briefing: UK weapons and Israel’s use of force in the Gaza Strip: https://waronwant.org/resources/briefing-uk-weapons-and-israels-use-force-gaza-strip

Early day motion 1305: https://www.parliament.uk/edm/2017-19/1305

Gaza: UN to launch war crimes investigation into Israeli forces' shooting of protesters The Independent, 18 May 2018

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