Israeli arms embargo ‘not wise’ – with US and UK ‘in totally different situation’, says Cameron | Politics News

An Israeli arms embargo is “not a wise path” and the UK and America are “in a totally different situation”, the foreign secretary has said.

Lord Cameron told the Sunday Morning With Trevor Phillips Show that it would be “extremely dangerous” for Israel to attempt a major offensive in Rafah.

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But asked if the UK would follow in the US’s footsteps and halt the supply of weapons to Israel if launches an attack on the southernmost city of Gaza – a crucial route for aid – he said the UK and American “are in a totally different situation”.

“The United States is a massive bulk state supplier of weapons to Israel, including, you know, 1,000lb pound bombs and all the rest of it,” he said.

“The UK provides less than 1% of Israel’s weapons and is not a state supplier. We have a licensing system and those licences can be closed if it’s judged there’s a serious risk of a serious international human rights violation.”

Palestinians flee Rafah. Pic: Reuters
Palestinians flee Rafah. Pic: Reuters

He added that when he last came under pressure to announce an arms embargo, “a few days later there was a massive Iranian attack on Israel, including 140 cruise missiles.

“So I don’t think it would have been a wise path.”

“If I announced that today, it might help me get through this television interview, but actually it would strengthen Hamas. It would weaken Israel,” Lord Cameron said.

“I think it probably makes a hostage deal less likely. So I don’t think some sort of political declaration is the right answer. We should stick with our rigorous process of making sure we act within the law.”

Israel has called on residents of Rafah in Gaza to evacuate and head to the “expanded humanitarian area” as it prepares to ramp up its military assault.

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Israel expands Rafah evacuation order

Despite heavy US pressure, Israel has said it will proceed with an assault on the southern city, where more than 1.4 million people have taken refuge from the fighting – around half of them children.

Israeli forces say Hamas militants are dug in, so Rafah is key to its goal of dismantling the group’s capabilities and returning scores of hostages captured in the 7 October attack by insurgents that triggered the war.

But tensions over the gathering offensive have led Joe Biden to warn the US would stop supplying Israel with some weapons if it presses ahead with an invasion.

UK ‘should pause weapons to Israel’

Pic: Reuters
Palestinian children pull water containers as people flee Rafah after Israeli forces launched a ground and air operation in the eastern part of the southern Gaza city, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, in the southern Gaza Strip May 9, 2024. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Palestinian children pull water containers as people flee Rafah. Pic: Reuters

Labour said a full-scale offensive into Rafah would be “catastrophic beyond description” and the UK should adopt the US’s position.

Shadow frontbencher Jonathon Ashworth told Sky News. “We do not want to see weapons used in Rafah and like Joe Biden has said, if that goes ahead those weapons should be halted and we believe the government should adopt that position now.”

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Lord Cameron said the UK government has been clear it does not support the Rafah offensive and it would be wrong for Israel to go ahead with it “without a plan to protect people”.

“In Rafah you’ve got hundreds of thousands of people who’ve moved from other parts of Gaza. So it would be extremely dangerous to attempt a major offensive in that way,” he said.

However, he also said the problem “goes back to Hamas”.

“Hamas have been offered a deal which would release hundreds of prisoners from Israeli jails,” Lord Cameron said.

“That would provide a pause in the fighting to get desperately needed aid into Gaza.

“And they’re not taking that deal. So the question really, I think, is for Hamas, you know, why are you allowing this suffering to go on when you could stop it now?”

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