UK 'will suspend 12 arms export licences to Israel if war restarts'

The government has identified 12 arms export licences for equipment to Israel which it says it will suspend if the current ceasefire with Gaza collapses.

A review of licences conducted by the Business, Innovation and Skills department has concluded that the vast majority are not for items that could be used by the Israel Defence Force in operations in Gaza.

But 12 licences have been identified which could be used. If the current ceasefire breaks down and “significant hostilities” resume, the government said it would not be able to clarify if the licence criteria were being met and a suspension would take place “as a precautionary step”.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “We welcome the current ceasefire in Gaza and hope that it will lead to a peaceful resolution. However the UK government has not been able to clarify if the export licence criteria are being met.

“In light of that uncertainty we have taken the decision to suspend these existing export licences in the event of a resumption of significant hostilities.

“No new licences of military equipment have been issued for use by the Israeli Defence Force during the review period and as a precautionary measure this approach will continue until hostilities cease.”

The government said it was continuing to monitor the situation and would revoke arms export licences to Israel if those already in place were not used consistently with their issuing criteria.

The 12 identified licences refer to military equipment including radar systems, combat aircraft and tanks.

No suspensions would affect Israel’s Iron Dome missile shield system, or a deal for £7.7 billion of cryptographic equipment which was agreed with the UK in February last year.

Last updated: 11:15am, August 13 2014