UK deputy PM calls to suspend arms to Israel

The Deputy Prime Minister of the UK coalition government and leader of the Liberal Democrat Party Nick Clegg's call came immediately after Cabinet Minister and Conservative Party member Baroness Sayeeda Warsi resigned from her post after expressing her criticisms of the UK government's policy on Gaza.

UK deputy PM calls to suspend arms to Israel

World Bulletin / News Desk

The Deputy Prime Minister of the UK coalition government and leader of the Liberal Democrat Party Nick Clegg has called for arms exports to Israel to be suspended.

His call came immediately after Cabinet Minister and Conservative Party member Baroness Sayeeda Warsi resigned from her post after expressing her criticisms of the UK government's policy on Gaza.

"I think the question marks that Sayeeda Warsi has raised about the arms export licences which we issue to arms exporters selling to Israel are very serious ones and I share her concerns," Clegg said in a statement published on the Liberal Democrat's official website.

Saying that the Israeli military operation in Gaza "overstepped the mark," Clegg called the Israeli bombing of three UN schools an "outrageous spectacle" that breached the conditions of export licenses.

He said he wants to see export licenses suspended pending a "wider review of whether they should be revoked more permanently in the long run."

"I believe we will be able to make an announcement on this, finally, very shortly. It’s taken a little bit longer than I’d like to have this agreed across government but I think it’s very important that in response to clearly what appears to be disproportionate military action of Israel in Gaza, we should be suspending the arms export licenses that presently exist," he added.

Senior British Foreign Office Minister Baroness Sayeeda Warsi resigned from the UK government on Tuesday, saying she can no longer support the government's policy on Gaza.

The Baronness revealed her decision on her official Twitter page, saying: "With deep regret I have this morning written to the Prime Minister & tendered my resignation. I can no longer support Govt policy on #Gaza."

"Our approach and language during the current crisis in Gaza is morally indefensible, is not in Britain's national interest and will have a long term detrimental impact on our reputation internationally and domestically," Warsi said.

Speaking in an interview with the Huffington Post after the announcement, Warsi said she "couldn't sit silently by as the Israeli military committed acts that have been described by (U.N. Secretary-General) Ban Ki-moon as 'moral outrages' and 'criminal acts'."

Warsi, the first Muslim to serve as a full cabinet minister, has thus become the first minister to resign from the British government 'on principle' the coalition was formed between the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats in 2010.

While the British government has repeatedly called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, Prime Minister David Cameron has come under criticism from the opposition Labour party for refusing to describe Israel's actions as disproportionate.

Last week, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond also said the situation in Gaza had become "intolerable."

UK STILL ARMING ISRAEL

A report revealed earlier this week showed the extent to which the British government has been supplying Israel with military equipment ranging from weapons control and targeting systems to ammunition, drones and armoured vehicles which are being used in the bombardment of Gaza.

Documents shown to The Independent revealed that arms export licences worth £42m had been granted to 130 British defence manufacturers since 2010 with the aim of selling military gear to Israel.

Lawmaker Katy Clark of the Labour Party opposition told The Independent: “By refusing to investigate this vital question the British Government are trying to bury their heads in the sand. This is a shameful approach to take and frankly makes the Government look as if it has something to hide.

“The British public have the right to know the level of support which the United Kingdom has provided to the Israeli armed forces through arms sales.”

Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) member Andrew Smith told The Independent, “There must be an immediate embargo on all arms sales and military collaboration with Israel. When governments sell weapons into war zones they cannot absolve themselves of responsibility for what happens when they are used.”

To this, a statement read by a British government spokesman replied: “We are currently reviewing all existing export licences to Israel. All applications for export licences are assessed on a case by case basis against strict criteria. We will not issue a licence if there is a clear risk that the equipment might be used for internal repression, or if there is a clear risk that it would provoke or prolong conflict.”

"We are currently reviewing all export licences to Israel to confirm that we think they are appropriate," a spokeswoman for Prime Minister David Cameron told reporters. The decision to conduct the review was taken last week, she said.

Almost 1,900 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since Israeli forces began pounding the blockaded enclave with air, sea and ground assaults on July 7.

Most of those killed were civilians, around a quarter of whom were children.

Last Mod: 06 Ağustos 2014, 12:25
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