7 Aug 2014

Coalition row: should UK stop exporting arms to Israel?

Here in the UK, a bitter row is going on within the coalition over calls for an arms embargo against Israel – and this isn’t just the standard coalition spat.

Channel 4 News has learned that the Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond, has sat on a proposal for the suspension of arms export licences – proposed by a fellow Conservative minister – for the last two weeks, to the increasing exasperation of many in government. I’ve been finding out what’s going on.

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10 reader comments

  1. Jake says:

    Great reporting by Channel 4. Thanks. BBC needs to learn to it is fast losing its viewers.

    We voted in Cameron not Congress to be our leader.

    Let this be the subject that unites and not divides our Great British Nation

  2. Dj Footprint says:

    Philip Hammond is totally and undeniably unfit for his post of Foreign Secretary. Even William Hague showed some ‘backbone’ (to a degree) whilst previously in the post – and not just in matters relating to Gaza / Israel (and that’s saying something, coming from someone who has despised the Tory Govt./Party since my early teens – and now in my late 40’s).
    To find out that Philip Hammond has ‘sat on’ this proposal for the suspension of Export Licences to Israel – so that yet more children and civilians can be murdered by the IDF – for the last fortnight is an utter disgrace, and shows him to be yet another lapdog of Israel and the very powerful right-wing AIPAC / Republican fraternity in the US and Congress, who are the one’s that have Obama’s arms tied completely behind his back.
    It also shows Cameron’s sneaky manipulations in the recent ‘re-shuffle’, whereby he removed anyone likely of dissent – ie; Kenneth Clarke.
    Therefore, it shows Cameron – and his non-dissenting Ministers to also be complicit in War Crimes – as these arms will no doubt be used by the Israeli’s to inflict more death and misery upon the civilians of Gaza. Including a ‘shoot-to-kill’ policy as once again displayed on Thursday’s C4 News – which once again, the Israeli spokesman / liar, Mark Regev tried to brush off in his own inimitable way (ie; ‘We don’t care what you, or anyone thinks’).

    1. John Richmond says:

      So, you support an organisation that is proscribed as terrorist by the UN, UK, EU, USA and many other nations and whose charter explicitly calls for the elimination of Israel prior to Islam taking over the world, is supported in preference to a nation that defends itself, constantly called for peace between Arab and Jew and is the only democratic and meritocratic polity in the Middle East. I suppose there’s some crazy logic in this somewhere.

  3. Malcolm says:

    That the world turns a blind eye to this tragedy is a shame.
    Arms embargo is the least that should be done.

  4. Philip Edwards says:


    Of course the decent answer to your question is Yes.

    But the British establishment is not decent. So it won’t happen.

    Oh there’ll be the usual bullshit about “complications” and how “difficult” it is to implement. But in the end it won’t make the slightest difference.

    And don’t be fooled for a minute by Hammond’s seeming diffidence. The man is a war criminal to line up with Balir, Brown, Straw, Darling, Cameron, Clegg, Cable and all the other disgusting mass murderers – none of whom will end up arraigned by the International Court.

  5. NB Kassim says:

    Both Israel and Palestine should be demilitarised for a safer and just world. The world leaders should impose sanctions on Israel so that they will be more willing to negotiate and accommodate the Palestinians’s aspiration and right to have a state of their own. The Palestinian have to accept Israel existence. In return Israel should accord the right of return to Palestinian refugees.

    Ii is already 100 years since WW 1 ended. 3 generations of Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs have grown up under war time conditions. One as winner/conquerer, the other as loser/occupied people. The destiny and development of both people and countries have been distorted . Surely their psyche would have been affected by the never ending cycle of violence. The money spend by USA, and EU countries to arm Israel should be used for peace and development of Israel and Palestine. Martin Buber’s dream for co existence could be realised.

  6. Bob says:

    Dear Mr Rugman

    Thank you for your exceptional courage and that of your colleagues, showing such an example of courage for the sake of what is right, for those suffering so badly, this contrasts so sharply with our Government, still on holiday? If Mr Cameron’s house was on fire or his family being massacred he would be soon home- what is the difference?, where is the sense of leadership -where is it? -you and others show it ever day, Thank you doesn’t say half of it, those who see themselves as leaders do not know the meaning of the word, something has to change, it will be too late for so many who have suffered so badly, but others can be rescued -still-, why haven’t our troops gone in, helping would not be that difficult,


    take care

    God Bless

    prob sending it to Mr Rugmans blog

  7. MCF says:

    Dear Cathy

    Thank you so much for your report on this issue. The BBC has lost his position as the best broadcaster. In my opinion Channel 4 is far better and getting even better by the day.

    I find extremely upsetting and frustrating the shameless silence of our PM in this matter with Israel We have heard several political figures like Alex Salmond or Nick Clegg asking to band weapons sales to Israel, but never Mr Cameron. why?

    In the meantime his cabinet is flapping around and doing nothing about it either. All seems to rely in that ceasefire. We all know what is going to happen: Israel will find yet another excuse to stall the process, as it has been doing for decades.

    Lots of waffle from MPs and ministers but not bold action. It almost feel that that is the idea. Delay, delay until the problem goes away and people forget. Then there will not be need for it and business can resume as usual. The problem with this is that our reputation and that of those in government will be already gone.

    Spain was very quick with the arms embargo. It didn’t need the EU backing, USA’s blessing and most certainly didn’t need 2 weeks to make a decision. Spain is not richer than UK but certainly far braver. Why the cowardice from the UK and in particular, why the cowardice from Mr Cameron? I would like to know.

    Situations like this put things in perspective. If our PM shows this weakness and hypocrisy at a time like this where our country is not really at war and the decision is quite simple, really, you have to wonder how he would behave if our country was in real trouble. Would he be up to the music? I am not sure, really

    I disagree with Mr Clegg. He says that is Mr Cameron’s decision. Well, Mr Clegg seems to forget that he is representing a lot of voters and not just that: without the agreement of the lib dems there would not be coalition government and Cameron would not be PM. So, I think Mr Clegg is taking advantage of his position as a Deputy for not being really as forceful and pulling his weight in the matter as he could have.

    I feel that this issue is like a huge iceberg. We only see the tip of it but there is an awful lot of deadly iceberg that is under the water. I wish I knew what it was. I wish our government wasn’t taken over by the interests of Israel and USA and could operate in the interests of the British people and the British people only. Why is it not the case? Why are being manipulated like puppets?

    My disrespect and disgust for Mr Cameron and the rest of the coalition government grows by the hour. This government has proved to be completely spineless. The only person that had a clear mind in the matter was Baroness Warsi. She was the only person in this coalition government that seems to have the courage to confront those powers from Israel that seem to hold our government in ransom. And yet many criticised her as a backstabber. I must say that in my opinion she was not a backstabber at all. She was rather upfront and stroke face to face.

    I have absolutely no doubt that Cameron knows that the majority of this country wants a band in ALL weapons to Israel. And yet he ignores his country’s wishes and drags his heels refusing to stop selling weapons against the will of most British people. I would like to as Mr Cameron if he thinks the opinion of Israel or Zionists who pay bribes to our government (but not to taxpayers) are more important than that of his voters and the non voters that he represents as a PM. If the answer is yes I would like to know why.

  8. Leslie Hadi says:

    I am appalled by the one-sided coverage of the conflict in Gaza on Channel 4 News. I believe that Jon Snow’s biased reporting has come to the attention of international journalism bodies and is being condemned as inaccurate and unprofessional. It is now acknowledged that all TV reports and pictures from Gaza are being censored by the Hamas to surpress the truth and serve their murderous aims.

    The truth is that Hamas initiated the current conflict and are continuing with it hoping to achieve their goal – the destruction of the State of Israel. It is Israel’s right to take military action to defend its civilians from Hamas terrorist rocket attacks from Gaza and the threat of Hamas’ terrorist tunnels into Israel.

    Israel is engaged in a rightful act of self-defence in accordance with the UN Charter. It is taking every step possible to minimise civilian casualties. The goals are limited and defensive: to safeguard the civilians of Israel from rocket fire and attack from the tunnels by crippling the terrorist infrastructure in Gaza and to restore Israel’s deterrent against future attacks.

    A current petition asking the Prime Minister to stop the sales of British-made weapon-parts to Israel has cited the controversial Sayeeda Warsi who called the British policy on the Gaza crisis “morally indefensible”. Yet there can be little more morally indefensible than an attempt to withold Israel’s means to defend itself against a barrage of rocket attacks from a terrorist organisation with one clear aim – to destroy Israel and kill the entire Jewish population.

    The deaths of so many civilians in Gaza is tragic and heartbreaking. But the unequal comparison of numbers of Arab deaths versus numbers of Israeli deaths is being manipulated into an indicator of victim versus aggressor. In fact the only reason more Israelis haven’t been killed is because of Israel’s Iron Dome defence system, which shoots rockets out of the sky. Without their sophisticated defences a huge number of Israelis would have been killed in this current conflict. The frightening fact is that it seems a great many people would be happier if the Israeli death count were in the hundreds or thousands too.

    There is incontrovertible evidence to show that the innocent casualties would have been greatly reduced had Hamas not repeatedly used Palestinian children and civilians as human shields. It is widely accepted that Hamas is using schools and hospitals as rocket launch sites, and there is clear evidence to show that well over a hundred of Hamas’ rockets have misfired and landed within Gaza. There is also absolute proof that Israel routinely warns civilians in Gaza ahead of any military attack on the area, by leaflet and telephone. There can be no doubt that responsibility for a great many unnecessary deaths rests within Gaza itself.

    No state can accept a situation in which its civilians are threatened by rockets fired indiscriminately against civilian areas or terrorist raids launched from tunnels. With normal life for Israeli civilians deteriorating rapidly, Israel has been forced to act. Israel has acted with restraint, tolerating for years sporadic rocket attacks that have sent residents in the south running to shelters, and only reacting militarily when these attacks became a veritable barrage.

    Ex-Prime Minister and Peace Envoy to the Middle East, Tony Blair has said: “If 80 rockets would be fired upon the citizens of Great Britain, no way I wouldn’t be taking action. If an Israeli prime minister would fail to take action, people would say that this is unacceptable”. In the words of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: “If the Arabs put down their weapons today, there would be no more violence. If the Jews put down their weapons today, there would be no more Israel.” If David Cameron bows to pressure to stop the sale of weapons-parts to Israel, he will be denying the right of the only democratic state in the Middle East to defend itself from terrorist attack.


  9. derrick says:

    I think Isreal is naturing its own beast. It has been for the last 2-3 decades. I have come to believe that Isreal is opposed to a stable Palestine state as a neighbor and why that is!!??. But I wonder!! What will happen in like 50yrs from now, the anti Isreal talk is growing, not because the news blocks are baised in the way they report but because actual war crimes are committed in Gaza, I think the idea for lasting peace should start by empowering the Palestinians in having a government that will take Hamas position. What is happening now only gives Hamas more power and sympathy, soon enough all the world will see is the bully “Isreal” beating a kid “Palestine” and there is the Isreals beast fully grown enough to eat them.

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