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UK won't ban arms sales to Israel despite ‘grave concerns’ about humanitarian issue, British foreign secretary says

Opposition groups increase pressure to halt weapons sales over ‘genocide’

British Foreign Secretary David Cameron holds a joint press conference with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the State Department in Washington, U.S., April 9, 2024 (Photo: REUTERS/Michael A. McCoy).

British Foreign Secretary David Cameron confirmed on Tuesday evening that his country would not suspend arms sales to Israel after a review of the situation. 

The British government encountered growing demands to suspend arms to Israel, especially following the deaths of three British aid workers last week during the strike on an aid convoy organized by World Central Kitchen. 

Cameron spoke at a press briefing in Washington alongside U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday, where he stated that the United Kingdom's “position on export licenses [is] unchanged.” 

“On Israel and international humanitarian law, as required by the UK's robust arms export control regime, I have now reviewed the most recent advice about the situation in Gaza and Israeli conduct of their military campaign,” Cameron stated. 

“The latest assessment leaves our position on export licenses unchanged. This is consistent with the advice that I and other ministers have received. As ever, we will keep the position under review.” 

While Cameron said that Israel remains a “vital defense and security partner” for Britain, he also addressed “grave concerns” regarding the humanitarian situation in Gaza. 

“Let me be clear though, we continue to have grave concerns around the humanitarian access issue in Gaza, both for the period that was assessed and subsequently," Cameron said while on a visit to the U.S. to coordinate British and American positions on aid to Ukraine.

On Tuesday, protesters rallied outside the home of British Labour Party leader Keir Starmer to oppose his party’s stance on arms sales to Israel. 

Several Members of Parliament, including Conservative MPs Alicia Kearns and Nicholas Soames, have called on the British government to suspend arms sales to Israel over the humanitarian situation in Gaza. 

Several hundred lawyers and judges in the UK have called on the government to halt sales of weapons to Israel, accusing the country of “genocide” over its actions in the Gaza War. 

Opposition parties in the Parliament have called on the government to publish the legal advice it received which led to the current decision, something Cameron said he would not do. 

“We don’t publish legal advice, we don’t comment on legal advice, but we act in a way that’s consistent with it. We’re a Government under the law and that’s as it should be,” Cameron stated. 

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

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