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Britain to examine arms sales to Israel

The government added that Israel maintains its right to self-defense.
By Ed Adamczyk Follow @adamczyk_ed Contact the Author   |   Aug. 4, 2014 at 1:32 PM
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LONDON, Aug. 4 (UPI) -- Britain is reviewing the sale of $13.48 billion of military equipment to Israel to judge its suitability in light of the conflict in Gaza, the British Prime Minister's office said Monday.

Export licenses have been granted to 130 British suppliers of equipment, and the government said contracts will be individually examined to guarantee "internal repression or the provocation of conflict" is not the aim of the purchase by Israel, reported The Guardian.

Of particular interest are contracts for cryptographic software and military communications. The action comes after Prime Minister David Cameron agreed with the United Nations that Israeli shelling of Gaza schools was a "moral outrage."

"We are currently reviewing all export licenses to Israel to confirm that we think they are appropriate," a spokesman for the prime minister said.

Among the material supplied by British firms are components for two of Israel's most visible items in the Israeli arsenal -- the Hermes drone and Merkava battle tank. The British government, though, said it would not investigate it British-made parts were in use in equipment deployed in Gaza, and reinforced its belief Israel had a right to its self-defense.

Several days ago, Foreign Office Minister Tobias Ellwood pointed out, "The United Kingdom does not believe that imposing a blanket arms embargo on Israel would promote progress in the Middle East peace process. All countries, including Israel, have a legitimate right to self-defense, and the right to defend its citizens from attack. In doing so, it is vital that all actions are proportionate, in line with international humanitarian law, and are calibrated to avoid civilian casualties."

Other British political figures, including Labor Party leader Ed Milibrand, have declared their opposition to Israel's incursion in Gaza. The Green Party has called for a total arms embargo of Israel, calling the sale of equipment "nothing short of scandalous."

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