25 August 2021
Arms Exports: Israel

I do not agree with EDM 138 / 300 and I do not believe that an investigation into arms sales to Israel would be appropriate. However, I remain concerned about security in Israel and our friendship with Israel does not prohibit our criticism of some Israeli policies or our recognition of Israel as a thriving democracy. The UK supports Israel’s right to defend itself and will work alongside anyone in the Middle East who seeks to establish better stability and security for their people. 

Israel has a right to self-defence and to defend its citizens from attack. I hope and wish, as we all do, for the cycles of violence in Israel and Palestine to end. Every effort must be made to avoid loss of life, especially the lives of children. Civilian deaths, both in Gaza and Israel, are a tragedy. 

I know the Government takes its export control responsibilities extremely seriously and operates one of the most robust export control regimes in the world. All export licence applications are rigorously assessed on a case-by-case basis against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria, based on the most up-to-date information and analysis available.

Licence decisions take account of prevailing circumstances at the time of application and include human rights and international humanitarian law considerations. I understand the Government will not issue export licences where there is a clear risk that the arms might be used for internal repression or in the commission of a serious violation of international humanitarian law.

The UK’s support for Israel’s right to self-defence does not extend to support for the annexation plans for part of the West Bank. I strongly welcome the shelving of these annexation plans as part of the normalisation of relations between Israel and the UAE last year.