UK govt under Tory pressure to stop arming Israel


Several Conservative leaders have called on the government to stop exporting arms to Israel…reports Asian Lite News

Several Conservative politicians have called on the British government to stop exporting arms to Israel after seven aid workers, including three Britons, were killed on Tuesday by an Israeli airstrike in Gaza.

David Jones, the Conservative MP for Clwyd West, told the Guardian: “The government should urgently reassess its supply of arms and deliver a stern warning to Israel about its conduct. Israel has every right to defend itself and every right to act proportionately. That doesn’t include people who are trying to do good. Given that we’ve seen three British citizens — all of them ex-forces — killed in what is, at best, a negligent manner I think that we really need to reassess our supply of weaponry there. I thought that (Benjamin) Netanyahu’s response — ‘these things happen in war’ — was completely inadequate, frankly, shamefully inadequate.”

Flick Drummond, the Conservative MP for Meon Valley, said UK arms sales to Israel should be stopped “for the foreseeable future.”

“This has been concerning me for some time,” she said. “What worries me is the prospect of UK arms being used in Israel’s actions in Gaza, which I believe have broken international law.”

Hugo Swire, a former Foreign Office minister in David Cameron’s government, said: “What I do not support is the selling of arms which can be, and now look as if they are being, used offensively in Gaza.”

The calls to halt arms sales were supported by crossbench peer Peter Ricketts, who was a national security adviser to the government during Cameron’s leadership.

He told BBC Radio 4’s “Today” program: “I think there’s abundant evidence now that Israel hasn’t been taking enough care to fulfill its obligations on the safety of civilians.

“And a country that gets arms from the UK has to comply with international humanitarian law. That’s a condition of the arms export license. So, honestly, I think the time has come to send that signal. It won’t change the course of the war. It would be a powerful political message. And it might just stimulate debate in the US as well, which would be the real game changer.”

The UK’s Liberal Democrats also called for the suspension of arms exports to Israel on Wednesday.

The aid workers — who also included a Palestinian, a US-Canadian dual citizen, a Pole and an Australian — were working for international charity World Central Kitchen to deliver food aid to Gaza when they were killed.

Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper that reported on the airstrike on Tuesday citing defense sources, said the drone fired three missiles at the convoy of three armored cars — all of which were clearly marked with the WCK logo on their roofs and sides — because they were suspected of transporting an armed militant.

The vehicles were hit while returning along a route preapproved and coordinated with the Israel Defense Forces, the report said. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has called for an urgent investigation into the Israeli airstrike.

‘Voters support ban on arms sales to Israel’

A majority of voters in Britain support a ban on the sale of arms to Israel, according to a YouGov poll. The survey of more than 2,000 people was commissioned by Action for Humanity and conducted before Monday’s airstrike by Israeli forces that killed seven aid workers, including three Britons.

The poll, reported by The Guardian on Wednesday, found that 56 percent of respondents favored a ban on the export of arms and spare parts, compared to 17 percent who did not.

Support for a ban was strongest among those planning to vote for Labour in the upcoming elections, with 71 percent in favor versus 9 percent against.

Seventy percent of Liberal Democrat voters support the ban, while among Conservative supporters, just 38 percent were in favor, with 36 percent against it.

In the poll, 59 percent of people said Israel was violating human rights in Gaza, with two out of three Conservative voters thinking that, The Guardian reported.

The findings will be disappointing for Israel, which has historically relied on strong UK support. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly said that his country’s efforts to destroy Hamas as a fighting force were dependent on Western backing.

Some senior Israeli politicians have expressed concerns that Israel is slipping into pariah status on the world stage.

Nearly 33,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza, but the deaths of the British, Polish, Canadian and Australian aid workers appear to have created a tipping point for Western powers.

The incident prompted several Conservative politicians on Wednesday to call on the British government to stop exporting arms to Israel.

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