Thank you for contacting me about UK arms sales to Israel. This issue needs to be seen in the wider context of UK policy on the ongoing conflict.
The UK has long held the position that there should be a negotiated settlement leading to a safe and secure Israel living alongside a viable and sovereign Palestinian state.
I join the UK Government in utterly condemning the appalling terrorist attacks against Israel by Hamas on 7 October, and in standing with Israel as it seeks to defend itself against these atrocities. The UK recognises the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people, and supports equal measures of justice and freedom for Israelis and Palestinians alike. However, Hamas does not represent those aspirations, and offers nothing for the Palestinian people other than more terror and more bloodshed.
The UK’s response to Hamas’ attacks is ultimately directed at reviving the long-term prospects for a two-state solution and regional stability. This response includes unequivocally backing Israel’s right to defend itself in line with international humanitarian law, stepping forward with humanitarian support and working to protect civilians from harm, and doing everything possible to improve regional stability.
Ministers in London and officials in Tel Aviv continue to monitor all issues, including allegations of human rights abuses and breaches of international law, relating to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians and raise concerns with the relevant authorities, and via the appropriate multilateral fora, accordingly. The Export Control Joint Unit has in place an established process for responding, at pace, to changing conditions in a country where the UK has previously granted export licences and where those licences remain in place. That situation is under constant review. The fact remains, however, that Hamas could end this conflict today, stopping the suffering of everybody, including the Palestinian people whom it continues to endanger.
Arms sales to Israel are subject to the same principles as arms sales to any other country. The UK Government takes its export control responsibilities extremely seriously and operates one of the most robust export control regimes in the world. All export licence applications are rigorously assessed on a case-by-case basis against the Strategic Export Licensing Criteria, based on the most up-to-date information and analysis available.
Licence decisions take account of prevailing circumstances at the time of application and include human rights and international humanitarian law considerations. Export licences are not issued where to do so would be inconsistent with the consolidated criteria, including where there is a clear risk that the items might be used for a serious violation of international law.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
Craig Whittaker MP