MP: no need to alter arms to Israel policy

Andrew Gwynne, parliamentary chairman of Labour Friends of Israel, says there is no need for the government to change its policy over arm sales to Israel following a review of exports announced last week by the Foreign Secretary David Miliband.

Mr Miliband told the Commons that the government was “looking at all extant licences to see whether any of these need to be re-considered in light of recent events in Gaza”.

But Mr Gwynne said this week: “The UK has a very thorough set of export controls and there should be no need for any changes to export licences that have already had approval.”

Mr Miliband had been questioned in January over the possible Israeli use of British arms components by Israel during its attack on Gaza. He said that Israel was estimated to buy less than one per cent of its arms from the UK. Britain would not export arms where there was a “clear risk” that they might be used for internal repression or provoking or prolonging conflicts.

Some equipment containing British components “may have been involved” in Operation Cast Lead, he told MPs.

A Foreign Office spokesman said the review would be a “factual assessment” of the use of the military equipment according to export guidelines. “It is not a value judgment on the conduct of the IDF. We do not believe the situation in the Middle East would be improved by the UK imposing an arms embargo. Israel has the right to defend itself and faces real security threats.”

Last updated: 10:15am, April 30 2009