London Mayor Sadiq Khan calls for immediate halt of UK arms exports to Israel over Gaza killings

London Mayor Sadiq Khan calls for immediate halt of UK arms exports to Israel over Gaza killings
Sadiq Khan, London's first Muslim mayor, said that the Israeli government should be held accountable for their actions, after aid workers were killed in Gaza.
3 min read
04 April, 2024
London mayor Sadiq Khan called for the British government to pause arms exports to Israel [Getty]

The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, called on the UK government to immediately pause arms exports to Israel as outrage grows over the killing of three British aid workers in Gaza.

In the video message, Khan - London's first Muslim mayor - highlighted that 33,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since the start of Israel’s war on the enclave in October, including 13,000 children.

Leading British officials have called on the UK government to take a tougher line against Israel after John Chapman, 57, James Henderson, 33, and James Kirby, 47 - all former British servicemen - were killed in an Israeli drone strike on their vehicle on Monday.

"We saw in the last 48 hours, seven aid workers, three British being targeted… three cars by the Israeli Defence Forces," he said, referring to the three airstrikes on the World Central Kitchen (WCK) aid convoy they were travelling with.

"I think the government should be pausing all sales of weapons to Israel, I think we should be holding to account the Israeli government," he added, saying that ever hour the war goes on, "innocent people are dying".

When quizzed about his statement on stopping arms exports to Israel, Khan responds "I can see no reason not to".

"The government has now had weeks to publish the legal advice, they've not published it, and if they publish that legal advice and it shows there’s a breach to international law, we should halt all sales."

Khan said it is now up to the UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and the Conservative Party to take action and hold Israel accountable.

His comments come a day after 600 legal experts, including three former British Supreme Court justices, warned the UK government that by continuing to arm Israel, it risks violating international law.

In a letter addressed to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Wednesday evening, the signatories — comprising former Court of Appeal judges and over 60 King’s Counsels (KCs) — describe the current conditions in Gaza as "catastrophic".

They said the UK has a legal obligation to prevent genocide in Gaza, stemming from the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) interim ruling in January that Israel's actions could plausibly constitute genocide.

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Fellow Conservative MPs have also ramped up pressure on Sunak to stand up to Israel.

Sources within the Conservative Party indicate that the Foreign Secretary David Cameron has advocated for a tougher stance towards Israel by the government, but has faced opposition from Downing Street, according to The Guardian.

Three Conservative backbenchers, and a former minister now in the House of Lords, have called for the UK to halt arms exports to Israel following the airstrike.

Following the killing of the aid workers on Monday, Sunak told British media that an independent investigation should be carried out into the airstrike, but stopped short of saying arms sales to Israel should end.

He claimed that his government had been "consistently clear" with Israel that it must follow international humanitarian law.

However, the legal experts disagree with the prime minister.

They say his government has not gone far enough and that measures such as an arms embargo and imposing sanctions on Israeli officials "who have made statements inciting genocide against Palestinians" should be made.