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UK confirms no arms sales to Israel since April 2024

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In a recent written question in the House of Commons, Matt Western, Shadow Minister for Education, inquired about the UK government’s arms sales to Israel.

He asked, “whether the Government has sold arms to Israel since 1 April 2024.”

James Cartlidge, the Minister of State for the Ministry of Defence, responded succinctly: “The UK government has not sold arms to Israel since 1 April 2024.”

Further information from the Commons Library

During the 2023/24 Israel-Hamas conflict, some MPs in the UK Parliament have raised concerns about UK arms exports to Israel, citing a risk that they could be used to violate international humanitarian law. Israel’s Government states it is “committed” to conducting its military operations “in accordance with international law” and will investigate any alleged misconduct by its forces.

UK arms exports to Israel

The Secretary of State for Defence, Grant Shapps, says that UK defence exports to Israel are “relatively small”, amounting to £42 million in 2022. Since 2008, the UK has licenced arms worth over £574 million to Israel, according to analysis of Government export data by Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), a UK based pressure group that seeks an end to the global arms trade.

In relation to the current Israel-Hamas conflict, CAAT has highlighted UK industry contributions to F-35 combat aircraft, which CAAT says are “currently being used in the bombardment of Gaza”.

Calls to suspend export licences to Israel

In the UK, MPs have asked the Government to consider revoking arms export licences to Israel in relation to the current conflict with Hamas. Several MPs raised this with the Secretary of State for Business and Trade during oral questions on 30 November 2023. Zarah Sultana (Lab) also led a debate on arms exports to Israel on 12 December 2023. The SNP has called on the Government to suspend export licences to Israel.

Other organisations, such as Campaign Against Arms Trade and Saferworld, are also calling for the UK to halt arms exports to Israel.

The Government’s response

Ministers have responded to such concerns by referencing the UK’s strategic export licencing system, under which all applications for a licence to export military equipment and related items are assessed against a set of criteria, and emphasised Israel’s right to defend itself within the bounds of international humanitarian law. The criteria reflect, among other things, the UK’s obligations under international law, and the potential for the goods to be used in the violation of human rights.

The Government says export licences are kept under review (PDF) and can be amended, suspended, refused or revoked as circumstances require.

Review of export licences to Israel, December 2023

The Government undertook a review of existing and pending licences (PDF) in December 2023. On 18 December 2023 the Business and Trade Secretary, Kemi Badenoch decided not to suspend existing licences or stop granting licences, but to keep her decisions “under careful review.”

This briefing explains how licences are granted, information on UK arms exports to Israel and the Government’s review of existing licences to Israel in December 2023.

Further information about events in Gaza and Israel can be found in Commons Library papers 2023/24 Israel-Hamas conflict: UK and international response, and UK aid to the West Bank and Gaza Strip: FAQs. Library paper Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories: A Parliamentary reading list (2020 – 2024) collates Commons and Lords Library papers, Committee reports, parliamentary material and Government press releases.

More information on arms exports, the process for granting licences and some of the most commonly raised concerns can be found in Commons Library briefing An introduction to UK arms exports. More information on the criteria can be found in Commons Library research briefing UK amends its criteria for arms exports.

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George has a degree in Cyber Security from Glasgow Caledonian University and has a keen interest in naval and cyber security matters and has appeared on national radio and television to discuss current events. George is on Twitter at @geoallison
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Jonathan
Jonathan (@guest_819665)
17 days ago

It is an interesting question, removing for a second the specifics of the Hamas Israel conflict…but just looking at the multilateral nature of the modern arms industry…if the UK band exports to a nation the U.S. would be prevented from selling F35s to that country…unless the UK components were replaced… That has a number of implications…having a national ethical stance on arms sales that are not in lockstep with partners in large multinational projects could mean the UK losses its entire share of the world market as it’s removed from production or if it cannot be removed it impacts on… Read more »

ABCRodney
ABCRodney (@guest_819698)
17 days ago

Just as well the question was a very nuanced and closed one. If it had been a more open question I suspect a lot of people would be surprised to know the size of direct or indirect Arms Trade with Israel. Do we buy arms or defence equipment from Israel or Israeli owned firms ? Yes very much so ! Do UK based companies make money from the supply of arms or defence equipment to Israel ? Yes in fact the U.K. Government own a share in one that supplies massive amounts from its US subsidiaries. Do 3rd party countries… Read more »

Steve
Steve (@guest_819713)
17 days ago

No arms sales since last month. I mean that’s a bit of a non answer. It’s not like military goods are brought daily.

John
John (@guest_819733)
17 days ago

These “MPs” who question a nations right to import arms to defend itself against terrorists backed by Iran really do not understand geopolitics. And I guess like many are closet Jew haters. Labour particularly has a rich history of anti Semitism. I detect they have not cleaned house properly.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_819783)
16 days ago
Reply to  John

And in power soon mate. Watch out Defence Industry as others happily clean up.

John
John (@guest_819784)
16 days ago

Truth.

ABCRodney
ABCRodney (@guest_819954)
16 days ago

M8 The biggest threat to our Defence Industry is the value of the £ at present. It makes our companies very cheap to buy out by overseas investors (mainly US investment funds). Cobham, Ultra etc all now US owned.
Only 2 that are safe are BAe and RR.
The other side of the coin is it makes our weapons and manpower seem cheap in comparison.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_819973)
16 days ago
Reply to  ABCRodney

Mate. I’m on about the ideological side of the Labour party costing UK Industry contracts by blocking sales to certain nations that their ideology support. And yes, Middle East Saudi Yemen and Israel are two obvious ones. When we refuse on “moral” grounds, I’m quite sure others will have no such issues and sell, and UKPLC lose the deal. Look at the pressure Starmer has been under over the Israel Gaza situation from within his own party. Tell me mate, hypothetically, what do you expect to happen to IF Starmer got deposed by the left? And that was the initial… Read more »

Tomartyr
Tomartyr (@guest_819912)
16 days ago

Confirmation of no sales since the last sale?

AlexS
AlexS (@guest_819920)
16 days ago

UK confirms will not fight against Nazis in XXI century.

Alternative title:
UK 21st century Nazi supporters are stronger than UK 20th century Nazi supporters.

Last edited 16 days ago by AlexS
Zac
Zac (@guest_820029)
15 days ago

We should be selling arms to Israel to help it defend itself against Islamic Supremacism which apparently we have a problem with from some MPs in our parliament. They should be investigated for potential links with terrorist groups.

Simon
Simon (@guest_820045)
15 days ago

Hanmas is terrorist org absolutely agreed. Israel has no plan except revenge and wrong to bomb a million people out of their homes, turn water and food off. Uk cannot supply weapons to Israel under these circumstances. All uk surveillance flight data should be given over if assisting with war crimes by either side.

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