• Saturday, July 20, 2024
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Three former UK Supreme Court judges, other senior legal experts says arms sale to Israel must stop


Three former Supreme Court justices have joined more than 600 legal experts in calling for the UK government to end weapons sales to Israel.
In a letter to the prime minister, they said exports must end because the UK risks breaking international law over a “plausible risk of genocide” in Gaza.

Rishi Sunak is already facing growing cross-party pressure after seven aid workers were killed in an air strike.

On Tuesday, he said the UK has a “very careful” arms licensing regime.
British sales are lower than those of other countries, including Germany and Italy, and dwarfed by the billions supplied by its largest arms supplier, the United States.

But a UK ban would add diplomatic and political pressure on Israel, at a time when its conduct in the Gaza conflict is coming under renewed international scrutiny.

Former Supreme Court president Lady Hale is among more than 600 lawyers, academics and retired senior judges who have signed a 17-page letter.

It says “serious action” is needed to “avoid UK complicity in grave breaches of international law, including potential violations of the Genocide Convention”.

The letter addsthat the sale of arms and weapons systems to Israel “falls significantly short” of the government’s obligations under international law, given the “plausible risk of genocide” in Gaza – which the letter said was highlighted in a provisional judgement issued by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in January – and the worsening humanitarian situation since.

The growing calls for the suspension of UK export licences comes after seven aid workers – including three British citizens – were killed in an Israeli air strike in Gaza on Monday.
In an interview with the Times, the brother of James Henderson – who declined to be named by the newspaper – said it was “hard to comprehend” the UK’s inaction over the killings of UK nationals.

“Accountability is the only hope of justice I have. I don’t believe our government will hold the correct people to account, but I guarantee that our government will sell weapons to Israel, which may in turn be used to kill our fellow citizens,” he added.

Australian, Palestinian, American-Canadian, and Polish nationals were also killed. The group had just unloaded more than 100 tonnes of food aid.