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UK Arms Sales to Israel

Volume 741: debated on Monday 20 November 2023

1. What assessment his Department has made of the potential impact of UK arms sales to Israel on (a) civilian deaths and (b) compliance with international humanitarian law in Gaza. (900146)

All export licence applications are assessed on a case-by-case basis against the strategic export licence criteria. This Government will not use any export licences to any destination where applications are not consistent with the criteria.

I thank the Secretary of State for that answer, but since the horrendous Hamas attacks on 7 October, 12,000 innocent Palestinian civilians have been killed; and two thirds were women and children. The UN Secretary-General has described Gaza as a “graveyard of children”. Today an Israeli airstrike on a United Nations Relief and Works Agency school has killed 12 people. The Indonesian hospital in Gaza is currently surrounded by Israeli Defence Forces tanks. Can the Minister confirm whether arms sold by the UK have been used in violations of international humanitarian law, and will he explain why arms sales to Israel have not yet been suspended?

The hon. Lady is right to describe as terrorism the horrendous and heinous attacks by Hamas, without which this would not have started. We call on all parties—the Israelis included—to ensure that they act within international humanitarian law. It will interest her to know that our defence exports to Israel are relatively small—just £42 million last year—and, as I mentioned in my initial answer, they go through a very strict criteria before anything is exported.