UK lawmakers move to cut off arms to Israel
Palestinians carry the body of a woman found under the rubble of a destroyed building following an Israeli airstrike in Rafah, Gaza Strip, March 27, 2024. | AP

More than 100 members of the Parliament in the UK demanded the government halt all arms sales to Israel today because of what they say is its genocidal assault on Gaza.

The 108 MPs backed the call in a letter put together by Zarah Sultana, a member of Parliament from Coventry South. The letter was also signed by 27 members of the House of Lords.

It comes as pressure mounts on the British government to do its part to implement the United Nations Security Council resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire in Gaza passed earlier this week.

Israel has rejected the resolution and continues its assault on the people of Gaza. MPs expressed concerns earlier this week that continuing to arm Israel would make Britain complicit in war crimes and other breaches of international law.

Signers include ex-Labor Leader Jeremy Corbyn, former Labor Middle East minister Lord Peter Hain, Westminster leader Stephen Flynn, and former Labor shadow minister Jess Phillips, who resigned from the front bench in November over the party’s refusal to back a Gaza ceasefire.

Sultana said that “when Israel is ‘plausibly’ in breach of the Genocide Convention and flagrantly violates international law on a daily basis, it is utterly unconscionable for arms sales to Israel to continue.

“But the UK government is refusing to act, making it complicit in this atrocity.

“With the Israeli government now seemingly disregarding the UN Security Council’s ceasefire resolution, it is again violating international law and making the case for an end to arms sales impossible to ignore.

“The UK government must finally uphold the rights of the Palestinian people, heed this call from 135 cross-party parliamentarians, and immediately end arms sales to Israel.”

In the letter to Foreign Secretary David Cameron and Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch, she argues that “business as usual for UK arms exports to Israel is totally unacceptable.”

It points out that a recent United Nations probe found that an F-16 fighter jet made with British parts was likely responsible for the bombing of British doctors in besieged Gaza.

Suspended in the past

In previous escalations of the conflict, the letter notes that UK governments have suspended arms sales to Israel.

“Today, the scale of violence committed by the Israeli military is vastly more deadly, but the UK government has failed to act,” the letter states.

Among the MPs signing are members of the Labor, Scottish National, Liberal Democratic, and Green parties, as well as independent parliamentarians. A Tory peer also indicated support.

Other countries, including most recently Canada, have announced a halt to all arms exports to Israel, in line with a call by UN experts to immediately stop such transfers.

A growing number of charities have also called for arms permits to be suspended, including Oxfam, Save the Children, Christian Aid, Amnesty International, and Islamic Relief.

Katie Fallon of the Campaign Against the Arms Trade said: “From the outset of this bombardment, cross-party parliamentarians have repeatedly and rightly asked the government how arms transfers can continue when domestic and international law require permits to be suspended.

“Every day for almost six months, Palestinians have endured the most horrific consequences of this sanctioned impunity.

“Immediately suspending arms transfers to Israel is the only legally and morally coherent position for the UK government to take.”

Court documents have revealed that in December 2023 Lord Cameron recommended continuing arms sales to Israel despite the deaths and devastation in Gaza.

Such sales to Israel are worth at least tens of millions of pounds to British businesses each year, with precise figures obscured by different export procedures in place.

Badenoch followed Lord Cameron’s guidance by not suspending export permissions, despite Foreign Office warnings that it had “serious concerns” about Israel’s compliance with international law.

Ministers have refused to publish legal advice received.

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Morning Star
Morning Star

Morning Star is the socialist daily newspaper published in Great Britain. Morning Star es el diario socialista publicado en Gran Bretaña.