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Labour make first-time call for pause in arms sales to Israel

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Published Time: 12.05.2024 - 20:40:19 Modified Time: 12.05.2024 - 20:40:19

‘Not a wise path’ Lord Cameron tells David Lammy as UK not a state supplier of weapons AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP Labour has called for the UK to pause selling arms to Israel for the first time amid concerns over a military offensive in Rafah

‘Not a wise path’ Lord Cameron tells David Lammy as UK not a state supplier of weapons

: AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP

Labour has called for the UK to pause selling arms to Israel for the first time amid concerns over a military offensive in Rafah.

David Lammy, the shadow foreign secretary, urged the Government to suspend the sale of weapons that could be used in an assault in Rafah.

It marks a divide with the Government as Lord Cameron, the Foreign Secretary, said  on Sunday that it was “not a wise path” to halt arms exports to Israel.

Israel has urged residents in more areas of Gaza’s southern-most city to evacuate in a further sign its military is preparing for a ground incursion.

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The US has threatened to halt the supply of offensive weapons to Israel if it carries out an attack on Rafah.

Explaining the shift in Labour’s position, Mr Lammy said: “Labour has been opposed to an Israeli offensive in Rafah for months and has been clear it must not go ahead.

“This was part of Labour’s motion that passed the House of Commons in February and it is one of the reasons we have been calling on David Cameron to publish a summary of the legal advice with regards to arms sales.

“President Biden is correct to tell Israeli prime minister Netanyahu that the US will not supply weapons that could be used in a Rafah offensive if Israel proceeds with a full-scale attack on Rafah against the international community’s warnings. 

“The US has rightly been clear it will continue to supply weapons that allow Israel to defend itself.

“The UK Government should now work with the US to try and prevent a Rafah offensive by being clear it will assess UK exports and, if the Rafah offensive goes ahead, join our American allies in suspending weapons or components that could be used in that Rafah offensive.”

Suella Braverman, the former home secretary, accused Labour of abandoning Israel at a critical moment.

“Israel is acting in legitimate self defence against Hamas. We know that Hamas battalions, operatives, and many hostages, remain in Rafah. 

“In order to degrade Hamas and defend itself, it is necessary for Israel to go into Rafah and the UK should maintain support for Israel right now,” she said.

“To suspend arms exports would, symbolically speaking, be nothing but appeasement to Hamas. 

“The truth is that Israel will win this battle with, or without UK support. Labour has buckled under hard-Left pressure. That’s not a serious foreign policy.”

Yesterday, Lord Cameron argued that the US and UK were “in a totally different situation” when asked if the UK would follow in America’s footsteps.

He said: “The United States is a massive, bulk, state supplier of weapons to Israel, including 1,000lb bombs and all the rest of it.

: Elliott Franks

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