UK ban on selling arms to Israel would strengthen Hamas, says Cameron

A ban on British arms sales to Israel would only strengthen Hamas, the Foreign Secretary told the BBC.

Lord Cameron said that while he did not support a major ground offensive in the Gaza city of Rafah, Britain would not copy US plans to end some arms sales.

He said Britain supplies only 1% of Israel’s weapons and warned that Israel must do more to protect civilians and allow humanitarian aid.

Labour’s Jonathan Ashworth said he did not want UK-made weapons to be used in Rafah.

This week, US President Joe Biden upended part of one of the world’s most important strategic relationships, saying the US “will not supply weapons” if Israel begins planning an attack on Rafah, a southern Gaza city with about 1 ,4 million people. . took refuge

The UN says more than 80,000 people have fled Rafah since Monday and Israeli tanks are said to have massed near the settlements.

Israel has said it will continue with planned operations in Rafah despite warnings from the United States and other allies that a ground offensive could cause massive civilian casualties and a humanitarian crisis.

Its prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has vowed to destroy the Hamas battalions he says are in Rafah.

Speaking to Laura Kuenssberg on Sunday, Lord Cameron said he would not support a full-scale attack on Rafah until he saw Israel’s “plan to protect people”.

But he emphasized that the United States, which he called “the country’s main arms supplier”, is in a “completely different situation” than Britain.

The British government does not sell weapons directly to Israel, but licenses them to arms companies on legal advice. In contrast, the United States uses less restrictive intergovernmental agreements to sell weapons.

Lord Cameron said the last time he was ordered to stop arms sales to Israel, when three Britons were killed in an airstrike on aid workers in the Gaza Strip, Iran launched a brutal attack on Israel days later. .

“Just announcing today that we are changing our approach to arms exports would strengthen Hamas and make a hostage deal less likely,” he adds.

He said he wanted to focus instead on the “daily” delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza.

The US State Department released an investigation Friday that found Israel may have used US-supplied weapons in violation of international humanitarian law during the Gaza war.

Asked if he agreed with the findings, Lord Cameron said Israel’s “record is not good enough” and argued that “Israel did not have the full sanity to allow humanitarian aid into the country”.

But Britain has a different approach and Lord Cameron said he was “not really interested in sending messages” through political means such as ending arms sales.

Lord Cameron said: “I am interested in what we can do to maximize the pressure on the British people and the results that help people in their lives – including the release of hostages, including British citizens.”

He rejected the idea of ​​British boots in Gaza, saying it was “a risk we should not take”.

It comes after the BBC reported last month that the government was considering sending British troops to Gaza to help deliver a new sea route.

“Aiding and abetting war crimes”
Labor MP Zarah Sultana accused the government of breaking its own rules in supplying arms to Israel.

The government’s strategic export licensing criteria prohibit arms sales “where there is a clear risk that the items could be used to commit or promote a serious violation of international humanitarian law.”

Ms Sultana said the scale of arms sold to Israel was “insignificant”.

“We are helping with war crimes that happen every day,” he told the BBC.

The position of the Labor Party in Gaza changed after the attacks by Hamas on October 7, in which 252 people were kidnapped and around 1,200 were killed. This triggered a full-scale Israeli military operation in the region.

More than 35,000 people have been killed and 78,000 injured in Gaza since then, according to the region’s Hamas Health Ministry.

Last year, 10 Labor supporters walked out because the party did not call for a ceasefire in Gaza but called for a “humanitarian pause” to allow a flood of aid to enter the country.

But in February a worker began demanding an “immediate ceasefire” after “developments” in Gaza.

Ashworth, a senior member of the shadow cabinet, said he “does not want to see British weapons used in the Rafah attack”.

“A full attack on Rafah is an unspeakable disaster,” he said.

He called on the government to publish legal advice on the sale of Israeli arms.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *