MPs call on UK to halt arms sales to Israel

The group of 130 parliamentarians was organised by Zarah Sultana


Zarah Sultana at an anti-Israel protest in 2023 (Abdullah Bailey/Alamy Live News)

The United Kingdom could be closer to halting arms exports to Israel over the war in Gaza after more than 130 parliamentarians signed a letter urging Whitehall to cut off weapons sales.

A letter sent to Foreign Secretary David Cameron and Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch says that the scale of violence committed by Israel is "vastly more deadly" than previous conflicts in 2009 and 2014.

British defence exports to Israel totalled £42 million ($53 million) in 2022, according to Defence Secretary Grant Shapps.

Labour Party MP Zarah Sultana co-ordinated the letter, which was signed by 107 MPs and 27 peers.

They include former Labour secretary of state for work and pensions Lord Peter Hain, Labour backbencher Jess Phillips, and former SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn.

"More than 32,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israel's assault, 70 per cent women and children,” the letter states.

It continues: "Israeli bombing has destroyed or severely damaged up to 80 per cent of civilian infrastructure, including homes, hospitals, schools and sanitation facilities. Famine is now imminent in northern Gaza, with children already dying of hunger.”

Sultana said: “The UK government must finally uphold the rights of the Palestinian people, heed this call from 130 cross-party parliamentarians, and immediately end arms sales to Israel.”

The letter references a January airstrike in which several medics were injured in Gaza though they were in a designated safe zone and had shared co-ordinates of their location with Israel via the United Nations.

A UN investigation concluded that the strike most likely involved a missile fired from an F16 jet, which are built in America and include parts supplied by Britain.

The letter comes after Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz expressed his displeasure with Canada’s government over its announcement that it would halt arms sales to Israel.

“It’s regrettable that the Canadian government is taking a step that undermines Israel’s right to self-defence against Hamas terrorists, who have committed terrible crimes against humanity and against innocent Israeli civilians, including the elderly, women, and children,” tweeted Katz.

“History will judge Canada’s current action harshly. Israel will continue to fight until Hamas is destroyed and all hostages are returned home,” he added.

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