Friday, 18 July 2014

MP questions UK military sales to Israel

As Israel increases its attacks on the people of Gaza by launching a ground invasion in addition to air and sea bombardments, local MP Katy Clark has questioned the Tory-Lib Dem Government on military links between the United Kingdom and Israel.

According to a 2013 report by the Westminster Committee on Arms Export Controls, there were over 380 Standard Individual Export Licenses and Open Individual Export Licenses granted to UK companies in relation to supplying military hardware and components to Israel. The value of the contracts was put at £7.8billion.

Included amongst equipment supplied to the Israeli government by UK companies were components for drones and military combat vehicles, and technology for small-arms ammunition.

In 2009 the UK Foreign Secretary confirmed that components manufactured in Britain were almost certainly used by the Israelis during a previous invasion and bombardment of Gaza.

Katy Clark last week asked the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills if he will suspend all standard individual export licences and open individual export licences to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories until at least such time as a ceasefire in the present conflict has been established. The Labour MP for North Ayrshire & Arran also asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will investigate whether any UK-manufactured weapons or components have been used by Israeli military forces during the current offensive, which the Tel Aviv Government calls Operation Protective Edge.

In addition, Ms Clark has questioned UK Ministers on whether or not they believe Israel has complied with international legal obligations during the recent military action, and has asked what steps the UK Government will take to assist Palestinians who have been made homeless.

Katy Clark said, “Like many, I have been appalled to hear the reports of civilian deaths in Israel and the occupied territories. The footage of four Palestinian children killed by an Israeli missile while playing on a beach was particularly disturbing.

“I believe the [UK] Government now needs to review its military relations with Israel as a matter of urgency. It cannot be right that British-manufactured weapons and components can continue to be exported to Israel at a time when increasing numbers of civilians, including children and disabled people, are dying as a result of Israeli air and naval strikes.

“If we are going to have a lasting peace in the region we need to bring about an end to these outbreaks of violence. The UK, rightly, does not sell weapons to Hamas but it now needs to take an even-handed approach and end its military ties with Israel until a fair and lasting peace is secured.”

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