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70,000 pro-Palestine people in UK urge London to end arms exports to Israel

(L to R) Brendan O’Hara MP, Beth Winter MP, Richard Burgon MP, PSC Director Ben Jamal, War on Want Director Asad Rehman, Alison Thewliss MP and Chris Law MP are seen outside 10 Downing Street on April 16, 2024 as they deliver a petition calling for an end to arms sales to Israel. (Photo by Palestine Solidarity Campaign)

Nearly 70,000 people have signed a petition calling on 10 Downing Street to put an end to Britain’s arms exports to Israel.

The petition was launched by Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) and a cross party group of British lawmakers.

It came as Chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, MP Alicia Kearns, has already admitted that the Foreign Office has received “official legal advice that Israel has broken international humanitarian law, but the government has not announced it.”

The UK’s arms export guidelines maintain that it “will not grant a license if it determines there is a clear risk that the items might be used to commit or facilitate a serious violation of international humanitarian law.”

On Monday, Labour MP Zarah Sultana grilled Prime Minister Rishi Sunak when she asked him whether Kearns told the truth about Israel’s violation of international humanitarian law.

“Was the Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee telling the truth – yes or no?” Sultana asked Sunak, who refused to deny that the Foreign Office had received such legal advice. “Israel is committed and capable of complying with international humanitarian law,” Sunak said.

His remarks came as a majority of Britons have called on London to no longer give arms to Israel, whose military has killed more than 34,000 Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip since October 7.

They fear Israel may be using British-made weapons in military actions that violate international law in the Palestinian territory.

More than 1,000 lawyers, academics, and retired judges, including former president of the Supreme Court Baroness Hale, have signed an open letter underscoring that the constant flow of British arms into Israel puts the UK in clear breach of international law.

Late March, a cross party group of 135 lawmakers wrote to the foreign and business secretaries, stating the case for a suspension of arms export licenses to Israel is “overwhelming.”

Canada, Japan, Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands have already announced they no longer ship arms to Israel.

British Foreign Secretary David Cameron, however, said on April 9 that the UK would keep exporting arms to the occupying regime anyway and that London’s position in this regard remained “unchanged.”

Sunak echoed Cameron’s remarks on April 10. He said arms exports to Israel would continue as before and that the flow would not be suspended.

Early this month, Israel’s deadly strikes on the World Central Kitchen (WCK) in central Gaza drew worldwide condemnation.

Three of the WCK aid workers killed by Israeli airstrikes were Britons, who were all UK military veterans working on its security team.

Britain supplied 42 million pounds ($53 million) of arms to Israel in 2022.

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