Over 130 UK lawmakers call on government to halt Israel arms sales

Over 130 UK lawmakers call on government to halt Israel arms sales
Over 130 UK lawmakers signed a letter to Foreign Secretary David Cameron which said the case for halting arms sales to Israel was 'overwhelming'.
3 min read
27 March, 2024
Zarah Sultana (left) and Jeremy Corbyn (right) were among the letter's signatories [Leon Neal/Getty-archive]

Over 130 UK lawmakers have called on the British government to halt arms sales to Israel.

The letter, sent to Foreign Secretary David Cameron and Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch, said the case for doing so was "overwhelming".

Signatories included Labour MP Zarah Sultana, Stephen Flynn, the head of the Scottish National Party in Westminster, and independent MP and former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

They were joined by members of the House of Lords, the UK's upper house of parliament, including Conservative Nosheena Mobarik, Liberal Democrat Jonathan Oates, and the Green Party's Natalie Bennett.

"We write as cross-party parliamentarians calling on you to immediately suspend export licences for arms transfers to Israel," the lawmakers' letter said.

It added that the UN Secretary-General António Guterres, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch were among those to say Israel has carried out serious breaches of international law in Gaza.

No 'business as usual'

The parliamentarians' letter noted the International Court of Justice's finding in January that Israel was plausibly violating the Genocide Convention.

"In this context, 'business as usual' for UK arms exports to Israel is totally unacceptable," the letter said.

"Both domestic and international law… require the government to prevent the transfer of military equipment where there is a clear or overriding risk that such exports might be used to commit or facilitate a serious violation of international humanitarian law or international human rights law."

The letter charged that UK-made weapons were being used in Gaza, saying the government authorises export licences for Israeli F-16 warplane parts.

Israel's war on Gaza has so far killed 32,490 people, the enclave's health ministry said on Wednesday.

United Nations experts last month called on states to stop arms transfers to Israel, including export licences.

'Man-made catastrophe'

Afzal Khan, a Labour MP who signed the letter, told The New Arab that the "horrific" situation in Gaza was a "man-made catastrophe".

"It is weapons that are sold by the UK that have helped create this," he said.

"We cannot sit back and watch the Israeli army commit egregious human rights abuses against Palestinians, knowing the UK has played some part – however small – in aiding this.

"It's clear the UK has a moral imperative to suspend arms sales to Israel immediately whilst there are allegations of war crimes being committed."

Live Story

Khan said he was pleased to co-sign the letter to Cameron and Badenoch calling on the government to do so.

"I will continue to lobby the Conservative government to put their morals before money and impose an immediate arms embargo against Israel," he added.

In response to a request for comment, the UK's Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office directed The New Arab to remarks made on Tuesday by government minister Andrew Mitchell.

"All exports are regularly assessed against clear criteria. We regularly review Israel's adherence to international humanitarian law and act in accordance with that," he said.

Protesters demanding the UK halt arms sales to Israel were set to demonstrate outside Britain's defence ministry on Wednesday evening, according to a press release from the group Revolutionary Socialism in the 21st Century.