- Following the ICJ ruling that there is plausible evidence Israel is committing genocide against Palestinian people in Gaza, the UK government must take immediate action and halt all arms exports to Israel. The UK has a legal obligation to stop arms exports if there is a clear risk they could be used in violations of International Humanitarian Law (IHL), and under the Genocide Convention which places obligations on states to take action to prevent and punish genocide.
- The ruling found that the court had jurisdiction and evidence to take the case further. It also authorised interim measures due to the “real and imminent risk of irreparable prejudice” to the rights of Palestinian people under the Genocide Convention.
- Foreign Secretary David Cameron recommended continuing arms sales to Israel on 12th December 2023 despite previous Foreign Office assessments stating there were “serious concerns” about breaches of IHL, and over Israel’s commitment and ability to comply with IHL. Cameron further accepted that Israel has a different interpretation of IHL.
- One of the interim measures implemented by the ICJ is for Israel to “prevent and punish the direct and public incitement to commit genocide”. This was due to statements made by senior Israeli politicians and military leaders. These statements were considered by the Foreign Office Assessment Unit as part of its review on 10th November 2023. However, while such statements caused concern, the unit dismissed them, stating: “It is not possible to define clearly what may be political rhetoric for a domestic audience and what speaks to the conduct of the campaign”.
- Since 2015, the UK has licenced over £487m worth of arms to Israel in single issue licences. However, this does not include open licences whereby companies can export unlimited amounts of specified equipment without further reporting requirements. One of these open licences is for components for the F35 stealth combat aircraft that Israel is currently using to bombard Gaza. UK industry makes 15% of each F35, and Campaign Against Arms Trade estimates the value of the F35 contract is at least £336m since 2016. These figures do not include licences issued since 7th October due to a lag in reporting arms export data.
Campaign Against Arms Trade’s Media Coordinator, Emily Apple, said:
“This government and the UK arms industry are complicit in genocide. The ICJ ruled that Israel needs to take immediate action. But it’s not just Israel that needs to act.
“This government must stop putting the profits of arms companies above the lives of Palestinian people. The Foreign Office assessment unit has found excuse after excuse to ignore and dismiss allegations that Israel is committing IHL violations. Enough is enough. There are no excuses left. This government must back calls for a ceasefire and stop arms exports to Israel immediately.”
- Information about the assessments made by the Foreign Office and Cameron’s recommendation to continue selling arms can be found here – CAAT – Revealed: David Cameron advised continuing arms exports to Israel, accepting Israel has a different interpretation of its International Humanitarian Law obligations
- The Foreign Office Assessment Unit’s comments on speeches made by Israeli political and military leaders is at point 35 here 26e1a5_14f16c2640e24bc99211ee41243e9c45.pdf (glanlaw.org)
- ICJ ruling can be found here – The Court indicates provisional measures (icj-cij.org)
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