UK Lawyers Join Calls For UK To Suspend Israeli Arms Export Licences

More than 600 lawyers signed a petition on Thursday urging the UK government to freeze arms export licences to Israel after three Britons were killed in an Israeli strike.

The three perished in Gaza on Monday, along with four other employees of the US-based humanitarian organization World Central Kitchen (WCK).

According to Britain’s strategic licensing standards, weapons should not be transferred if there is a “clear risk” that they will be used to violate international humanitarian law.

Signatories to the letter, including former Supreme Court judges, warned that continuing to authorize the transfer of arms to Israel put the government in violation of international law.

They said that the worsening situation in Gaza, as well as the International Court of Justice’s judgment that there was a “plausible risk of genocide,” compelled the UK to ban military supplies to the country.

Since 2015, London has approved around £487 million ($614 million) in weapon sales to Israel using so-called single issue licences, while firms export more through open licences, according to arms control groups.

This includes providing essential equipment worth tens of millions of pounds for F-35 fighter jets manufactured in the United States and sold to Israel, according to sources.

On Wednesday, two days after the Israeli strike that murdered seven WCK employees, two UK opposition parties and several individual politicians repeated calls for the government to halt shipments.

They included former UK national security adviser Peter Ricketts, who currently serves in the House of Lords, Britain’s unelected upper chamber.

He claimed that there was “abundant evidence now that Israel hasn’t been taking enough care to fulfil its obligations on the safety of civilians” .

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has thus far sounded unconcerned about the requests, telling The Sun on Wednesday that London has a “careful export licensing regime”.

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