UK Foreign Secretary's Comment on Suspending Arms Sales to Israel Draws Criticism

The UK opposes halting arms exports to Israel, arguing it would only strengthen Hamas. The US has threatened to cut weapons supply if Israel attacks Rafah, but the UK provides less than 1% of Israel's weapons and has a licensing system. The UK supports civilian protection in Rafah but opposes a major offensive without a plan. The Campaign Against Arms Trade estimates UK arms exports to Israel since 2015 at over 1 billion pounds, including components for F-35 jets used in Gaza bombardments. The UK will not deploy troops to deliver aid in Gaza, considering it a risk.

PTI | London | Updated: 12-05-2024 22:12 IST | Created: 12-05-2024 22:12 IST
UK Foreign Secretary's Comment on Suspending Arms Sales to Israel Draws Criticism
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Halting arms exports to Israel is "not a wise path'' and would only strengthen Hamas, Britain's foreign secretary said Sunday.

Asked whether the UK would follow the US in threatening to cut the supply of offensive weapons to Israel if it carried out an attack on the southern Gaza city of Rafah, Foreign Secretary David Cameron said the two countries cannot be compared because unlike the US, Britain supplies a very small amount of Israel's weapons.

"The UK provides less than 1% of Israel's weapons and it's not a state supplier,'' Cameron told the BBC on Sunday. ''We have a licensing system and those licences can be closed if it's judged there's a serious risk of a serious international human rights violation." US President Joe Biden has said that his government will stop supplying weapons and artillery to Israel if its forces launch an all-out assault on Rafah, the last major Hamas stronghold in Gaza.

Britain's opposition Labour Party and human rights groups have argued that the UK should follow a similar position and stop the sale of British-made weapons or components in a Rafah offensive.

The US government said Friday that Israel's use of US-provided weapons in Gaza likely violated international humanitarian law. But it added that wartime conditions prevented US officials from determining that for certain in specific airstrikes.

Cameron said the UK did not support a major offensive in Rafah without a clear plan about how civilians can be protected.

The Campaign Against Arms Trade nonprofit group estimates that the real value of UK arms exports of Israel is at least 1 billion pounds since 2015, much higher than government figures.

It says that British industry, namely BAE Systems, provides about 15% of the components in the F-35 stealth combat aircraft used by Israel. The group alleges that the jets were used in recent bombardment of Gaza. The full value of component and other licenses is not known, it said.

Cameron also said that putting British boots on the ground in Gaza as part of international efforts to deliver aid would be "a risk that we shouldn't take".

His comments came after reports that UK authorities were considering deploying troops to land humanitarian supplies from a temporary pier being built by the US military.

Cameron said that his government's view was that "actually putting British boots on to the beach was not a good move." He said that instead, the aid delivery will likely be carried out by a contractor.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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