UK cuts arms licences to Israel after Gaza

By Jessica Elgot, July 13, 2009

The UK government has revoked the licenses of five arms companies to supply to the Israeli military with spare parts for guns on Sa'ar 4.5 ships.

British officials have confirmed that the ban was imposed because the supplies were being used by Israeli battleships which participated in the attack on Gaza.

The UK has claimed this would have violated the security agreements between Britain and Israel, which specifies how British equipment can be used by buyers.

The government has now informed the British arms companies that any current deals they have with the Israeli navy must be cancelled.

Britain has also revoked some export licenses to Russia and Georgia following their border war last year.

After reports describing the decision as a partial arms embargo, the UK embassy in Tel Aviv insisted there is “no partial U.K. arms embargo on Israel,"

The embassy spokesman said: "U.K. policy remains to assess all export licenses to Israel against the consolidated EU and national arms export licensing criteria.”

“We reassessed these licenses against the U.K. and EU consolidated criteria. We judged that in a small number of cases Israeli action in Operation Cast Lead would result in the export of those goods now contravening the consolidated criteria. These licenses have been revoked.”

Last updated: 1:26pm, July 13 2009