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UK will continue allowing arms exports to Israel – Cameron

09 Apr 2024 4 minute read
Former prime minister David Cameron leaving after giving evidence to the UK Covid-19 Inquiry – Image: Jeff Moore

The UK will not suspend arms exports to Israel following the killing of seven aid workers in an air strike last week, the Foreign Secretary has confirmed.

Lord Cameron said he had reviewed the most recent legal advice about the situation in Gaza, and this left the UK’s position on export licences “unchanged”.

Speaking at a press conference in Washington DC, he said: “This is consistent with the advice that I and other ministers have received, and as ever we will keep the position under review.”

But, he added, the UK continued to have “grave concerns” about humanitarian access to Gaza, saying Israeli promises to “flood Gaza with aid … now need to be turned into reality”.

The Government has faced increasing pressure to suspend licences for arms exports to Israel following the deaths of three British nationals in an air strike that killed seven people working for the humanitarian group World Central Kitchen.

Lord Cameron said continuing to allow arms exports put the UK in line with other “like-minded countries” and reiterated that the UK had a “robust legal process” for assessing those licences.

He added that the Government would not publish or comment on legal advice, but would “act in a way that is consistent with it”.

Lord Cameron said: “We are a Government under the law and that’s as it should be.”

Precedent

Aid organisation Care International UK said the Foreign Secretary’s statement appeared to contradict the precedent set in 2014 when the Government said it would suspend some licences as a “precautionary step” if it could not “clarify if the export licence criteria are being met”.

Care’s head of advocacy and policy, Dorothy Sang, said: “The Government’s criteria for arms exports are clear that licences should not be granted where there is a clear risk that the items might be used in violation of international humanitarian law.

“Gaza is experiencing a manmade humanitarian crisis. Over 33,000 Palestinians and 200 aid workers have been killed during this conflict. Famine is imminent if not already present in the north of Gaza.

“The UK Government must now follow its own advice and suspend arms export licenses to Israel.

The debate over whether to suspend arms export licences sparked rumours of a Cabinet split, with Lord Cameron appearing more strident in his criticism of Tel Aviv than some of his colleagues, including Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden.

Downing Street denied there was any difference between the two men’s public statements, and on Tuesday Lord Cameron reiterated the UK’s support for Israel’s “legitimate right to self-defence to deal with the Hamas threat”.

‘Deconflicted’

He also repeated his calls for more aid to flow into Gaza and for the territory to be “deconflicted” to allow that aid to be distributed, warning that more humanitarian workers could be killed if this did not happen.

Lord Cameron’s press conference alongside US Secretary of State Antony Blinken came as Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu escalated his threats to carry out a ground invasion of Rafah, in southern Gaza.

Around 1.4 million Palestinians are currently living in Rafah, many of whom have been displaced from other parts of Gaza, and Western allies have previously warned Mr Netanyahu against such a move.

With an invasion of Rafah becoming an increasing possibility, Lord Cameron told reporters the international community may need to start considering a “plan B”.

He said: “We have a very clear plan A for how we bring this conflict to an end.

“We have a temporary pause, we turn that into a sustainable ceasefire, we see Hamas leaders removed from Gaza, we see the terrorist infrastructure taken down. That is the way to have a political process that brings the war to an end.

“But we have to be aware if that doesn’t work, we have to think about what is plan B, what can humanitarian and other organisations do to make sure that if there is a conflict in Rafah that people can achieve safety, they can get food, they can get water, they can get medicine, and people are kept safe.

In a video statement, Mr Netanyahu said there was now a date for an invasion of Rafah. At Tuesday’s press conference, Mr Blinken said the US had not been made aware of any such date.


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Jeff
Jeff
1 month ago

Mr Cameron is not the giant on the world stage he thinks he is. Publish the advice. Netanyahu is making everyone suffer for generations now.

Mawkernewek
Mawkernewek
1 month ago
Reply to  Jeff

I doubt he even thinks he’s that big on the world stage, just the title Lord will last longer than his likely brief tenure in the Cabinet, and be useful for whatever grifting he proceeds to undertake next.

Swn Y Mor
Swn Y Mor
1 month ago
Reply to  Mawkernewek

Hey its Baron Cameron of Chipping Norton to you!

On a serious note Baron Wigley, Baron Elis Thomas, Baroness Smith of Llanfaes etc just appears incredibly outdated in 2024. It conjures up an image of Hugh Bonneville and his fictional family from Downton Abbey.

Frank
Frank
1 month ago

…. says the guy who threw in the towel and ran away from his duties when the going got too tough for him.

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
1 month ago
Reply to  Frank

Yes the guy who returned saying he loved public service didn’t care for it when he showed two fingers to his constituents and his association with Greensill Capital was all about self service.

Steve Woods
Steve Woods
1 month ago
Reply to  Frank

Dodgy Dave made a rod for his own back by turning an internal Tory party dispute about neighbouring countries that talk funny into the biggest foreign policy disaster since Suez in 1956.

karl
karl
1 month ago

Unelected clown, breaking international law. Thats the exceptionalism of the Uk. Disgusting.

Richard Davies
Richard Davies
1 month ago

When, and it is when, the ICJ announces its judgement it will find israel is guilty of genocide. All countries supplying arms to israel will be equally guilty, according to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (CPPCG, aka Genocide Convention) The relevant articles of the convention are: “Article II In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: (a) Killing members of the group; (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members… Read more »

Linda Jones
Linda Jones
1 month ago

Yet more evidence the UK is governed by people who lack any moral compass

Steve Woods
Steve Woods
1 month ago

Ah! ‘Lord’ Call Me Dave: the man who turned an internal Tory Party dispute into the Untied Kingdom’s biggest foreign policy disaster since Suez in the mid-1950s.

A man clearly on the wrong side of history.

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