UK threatens to stop arms exports to Israel over Gaza crisis


Gaza

The UK Government has threatened to suspend 12 military equipment export licences to Israel if the country resumes fighting in the Gaza Strip.

The licences cover components for military radar systems, combat aircraft and tanks, which were allegedly used by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) in Gaza in response to Hamas rocket attacks.

Israel and Hamas militants are currently observing a ceasefire and talks are underway between the two sides in the Egyptian capital city of Cairo to end the hostilities.

The UK Department for Business, Innovation and Skills secretary Vince Cable said: "The UK Government has not been able to clarify if the export licence criteria are being met.

"In light of that uncertainty, we have taken the decision to suspend these existing export licences in the event of a resumption of significant hostilities.

"No new licences of military equipment have been issued for use by the Israeli Defence Force during the review period and as a precautionary measure this approach will continue until hostilities cease."

"The UK Government has not been able to clarify if the export licence criteria are being met."

The suspensions do not affect a licence granted in February 2013 for the export of up to £7.7bn of cryptographic equipment, which could be used for the construction of mobile phone networks in residential areas and for small businesses.

Britain will also continue to supply components for Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile system, which helps protect Israelis from Hamas rocket attacks.

Campaign Against Arms Trade spokesperson Andrew Smith said: "The UK's failure to even suspend these licences unless the violence resumes is simply not good enough.

"It is a very weak position and it will be seen as a sign of political support for the Israeli Government and military.

"It should announce a full embargo on all arms sales to Israel, as well as an end to all military-industrial collaboration with Israel."

The UK Government has agreed £42m worth of military licences to Israel, including targeting systems and drone components, since 2010.


Image: Palestinians gather in Beit Hanoun in Gaza during the ceasefire. Photo: courtesy of Boris Niehaus (www.1just.de).

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