Senior UK jurists join the call to end arm sales to Israel – TechVerdant


By Jill Lawless | Associated Press

LONDON — More than 600 British jurists, including three retired judges from the U.K. Supreme Court, are calling on the government to suspend arms sales to Israel, piling pressure on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak after the deaths of three U.K. aid workers in an Israeli strike.

Britain is just one of a number of Israel’s longstanding allies whose governments are under growing pressure to halt weapons exports because of the toll of the six-month-old war in Gaza.
In an open letter to Sunak published late Wednesday, the lawyers and judges said the U.K. could be complicit in “grave breaches of international law” if it continues to ship weapons.

Signatories, including former Supreme Court President Brenda Hale, said Britain is legally obliged to heed the International Court of Justice’s conclusion that there is a “plausible risk of genocide” in Gaza.

The letter said the “sale of weapons and weapons systems to Israel … falls significantly short of your government’s obligations under international law.”

Britain is a staunch ally of Israel, but relations have been tested by the mounting death toll, largely civilian, from the war. Calls for an end to arms exports have escalated since an Israeli airstrike killed seven aid workers from the aid charity World Central Kitchen, three of them British.

Israel says the attack on the aid workers was a mistake caused by “misidentification.”

The U.K.’s main opposition parties have all said the Conservative government should halt weapons sales to Israel if the country has broken international law in Gaza.

Several senior Conservatives have urged the same, including Alicia Kearns, who heads the House of Commons foreign affairs committee.

Sunak has not committed to an arms export ban, but said Wednesday that “while of course we defend Israel’s right to defend itself and its people against attacks from Hamas, they have to do that in accordance with international humanitarian law.”

British firms sell a relatively small amount of weapons and components to Israel. Defense Secretary Grant Shapps has said that military exports to Israel amounted to 42 million pounds ($53 million) in 2022.

Other allies of Israel are also facing calls to cut off the supply of weapons and to push for a cease-fire in the conflict, which has killed more than 32,000 Palestinians, according to health authorities in Gaza.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said Thursday that his country had stopped selling weapons to Israel, and urged other nations to do the same. Sanchez said Wednesday that his government has left “the door open” to diplomatic actions against Israel over its “insufficient” explanation of the aid workers’ deaths.



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