Monday, July 13, 2009

UK Withdraws Arms Export Licenses to Israel

This Monday, the United Kingdom revoked arms export licenses to Israel after it was proven in a government review that the criteria for licensing was breached. The British embassy in Tel Aviv claims that it is not a partial embargo, they simply are adhering to their licensing policy.

Of the 182 licenses, only 5 were denied. The revoked licenses authorized the sales of spare parts for Sa’ar 4.5 gunships. The UK administration conducted an inquiry into the uses of British-made equipment by the Israeli military. The results proved that the gunships were used in operation Cast Lead (the three-week war in the beginning of this year). The British government declared this a violation of the security agreement it had with Israel.

The British Embassy in Tel Aviv released a statement explaining their reasoning for revoking the export licenses saying, "Future decisions will take into account what has happened in the recent conflict. We do not grant export licenses where there is a clear risk that arms will be used for external aggression or internal repression.”
“We consistently urge Israel to act with restraint and supported the EU Presidency statement that called the Israeli actions during operation Cast Lead 'disproportionate.'"

The UK is not a large arms dealer to Israel, and the spare parts they denied the Israeli navy will have little impact on its operational capability. This is, however, a very significant political statement. It sets precedence for other nations to also show disapproval of the Israeli military’s actions and encourages them to enforce tighter arms sales restrictions.

Click MORE to read the rest of the article on the CNI website.