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'Shameful' and 'insane' - Former British PM Boris Johnson warns against anti-Israel arms embargo

Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and former Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison visit Kibbutz Kfar Aza following the October attack by Hamas gunmen from the Gaza Strip, in southern Israel, Nov. 5, 2023. (Photo: REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein)

“If you want an example of the death wish of Western civilisation, I give you the current proposal from members of the British establishment that this country should ban arms sales to Israel,” former UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson wrote on Friday in his Daily Mail column.

“If you want evidence of government madness, it appears that Foreign Office lawyers are busily canvassing the idea — which has not, as far as I can tell, yet been rejected by the Foreign Secretary [David Cameron] himself.”

As a former foreign secretary, Johnson said it would be “insane” for the United Kingdom to end military support to Israel, which he said would be advocating for “the military defeat of Israel and the victory of Hamas.”

“Remember that in order to win this conflict, Hamas only has to survive,” the former premier explained. “All they need at the end is to hang on, rebuild, and go again. That’s victory for Hamas; and that is what these legal experts seem to be asking for.”

Johnson expressed his position last week after 600 British lawyers, including the former president of the British Supreme Court, called for the British government to end its arms exports to Israel, arguing that Britain's military support for the Gaza campaign is a breach of international law.

Three former Supreme Court judges signed the letter, which is a response to South Africa’s recent case against Israel at the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Speaking to BBC Radio 4, one of the three, Jonathan Sumption, said: “The most important point is that Article 1 of the Genocide Convention requires states to do what they can to prevent genocide. Now, it hasn’t yet been determined whether what the Israelis are doing is genocide. The ICJ is considering that issue, but they have already ruled that there is a plausible case that that is what is going on in Gaza."

“It seems to me that we have a duty, as we do in international law, to prevent genocide and there is plausible case that is what is happening, you should do what you can to obstruct it.”

In response, Johnson wrote: “Let us be clear what it would mean, to ban arms sales now, when Israel is under a greater existential threat than at any time I can remember. If we ban the sale of arms ourselves, it surely follows that we do not think any self-respecting country should be arming the Israelis.”

The former British prime minister concluded by accusing the British establishment of being in danger of abandoning her only true ally in the region.

“More alarming still,” he continued, “we are told that an Israeli arms ban is the subject of an active row in Cabinet, with only a handful of ministers positively sticking up for Israel. The contagion has spread pretty wide, and very fast. The proposed embargo is now supported by MPs on all sides, by the former head of MI6, by some former Supreme Court Justices, and by about 600 members of the legal profession, all of them clamouring for us to turn our backs on the only democracy in the Middle East.”

According to Ynet, the British arms export to Israel only constitute 0.4% of London’s total military exports worldwide. However, Jerusalem and supporters of Israel fear that, if implemented, other countries could join the arms embargo while the country is fighting for its existence against the Iranian-backed terrorist alliance.

On Friday the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) voted in favor of implementing an arms embargo against Israel.

Israeli Ambassador to the UN in Geneva Meirav Eilon Shahar condemned the UNHRC’s resolution as further evidence of the organization’s deeply entrenched hostility against Israel.

“This Council has long abandoned the Israeli people and long defended Hamas. It has become a shield for terrorists. It has turned a blind eye to any acts of violence against Israelis and Jews,” Shahar said.

However, the United States and Germany, the two countries responsible for the vast majority of arms exports to Israel, opposed the resolution.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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