May 27, 2024

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Cameron says a British ban on arms sales to Israel would strengthen Hamas

Cameron says a British ban on arms sales to Israel would strengthen Hamas

  • Written by Sam Francis
  • Political correspondent, BBC News

Video explanation, Watch: Changing British arms exports would make Hamas stronger, says Cameron

The UK’s ban on arms sales to Israel will only strengthen Hamas, the British Foreign Secretary told the BBC.

He said the UK provides only 1% of weapons to Israel, and warned that Israel must do more to protect civilians and allow humanitarian aid to pass through.

Labor’s Jonathan Ashworth said he did not want British-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 when he said the United States “will not provide us with weapons” if Israel goes ahead with its planned invasion of Rafah – the city in the southern Gaza Strip where some 1.4 million people are home. Shelter.

The United Nations says more than 80,000 people have fled Rafah since Monday, while Israeli tanks have reportedly massed near built-up areas.

Israel said it would go ahead with its planned operations in Rafah despite warning from the United States and other allies that the ground offensive could lead to large numbers of civilian casualties and a humanitarian crisis.

Its Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has pledged to eliminate the Hamas brigades that he claims are stationed in Rafah.

Comment on the photo, Israeli tanks and other armored vehicles gathered near the Gaza border fence on Thursday

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

But he said the US was “in a very different position” to the UK, because it was a “major arms supplier”.

Lord Cameron said that the last time he was urged to halt arms sales to Israel, when three Britons were killed in an air strike on aid workers in Gaza, “a few days later there was a brutal attack by Iran on Israel”.

He adds: “Simply announcing today that we will change our approach on arms exports will make Hamas stronger and make a hostage deal less likely.”

He said he wanted instead to focus on “working every day” to get humanitarian aid into Gaza.

On Friday, the US State Department published an investigation concluding that Israel may have used US-supplied weapons in violation of international humanitarian law during the war in Gaza.

Asked whether he agreed with the findings, Lord Cameron said that “Israel is not performing well enough,” arguing that “Israel does not have a clean bill of health” on allowing humanitarian aid into the country.

But the UK “has a different approach”, and Lord Cameron said he was “not really interested in sending messages” through policy moves such as ending arms sales.

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

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

This comes after the BBC reported last month that the government was considering sending British forces to Gaza to help deliver aid via a new sea route.

Labor MP Zara Sultana accused the government of not following its rules for supplying weapons to Israel.

the government Strategic export licensing standards The sale of arms is prohibited “if there is a clear risk that the items may be used to commit or facilitate a serious violation of international humanitarian law.”

Sultana said that the volume of arms sales to Israel “does not matter.”

She told the BBC: “We are aiding and abetting war crimes that happen every day.”

Labor’s position on Gaza has changed since the October 7 Hamas attacks, in which 252 people were kidnapped and some 1,200 killed, triggering a massive Israeli military operation in the area.

Since then, more than 35,000 people have been killed and 78,000 injured in Gaza, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry in the Strip.

Last year, 10 Labor Party members resigned over the party’s failure to call a ceasefire in Gaza, supporting instead a “humanitarian truce” to allow aid to flow into the country.

Ashworth, a senior member of the shadow cabinet, said he “did not want to see British-made weapons used” in the Rafah invasion.

He added, “Any large-scale attack on Rafah would be a disaster beyond description.”

He called on the government to publish the legal advice it provided regarding arms sales to Israel.

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