Calls for UK to end arms sales to Israel are 'insane' and 'shameful', says Boris Johnson

5 April 2024, 23:48 | Updated: 6 April 2024, 07:07

Former prime minister Boris Johnson has criticised calls to end arms to Israel
Former prime minister Boris Johnson has criticised calls to end arms to Israel. Picture: Getty Images

By Flaminia Luck

Boris Johnson has described calls for the UK to end arms sales to Israel as "hypocritical", "insane" and "shameful".

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Three Britons were among the seven aid workers who were killed in airstrikes in Gaza carried out by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) on Monday, prompting global outrage.

The incident has led to widespread calls from MPs from all major parties to end UK arms sales to Israel, as well as a letter signed by more than 600 lawyers, including former Supreme Court justices.

However, the former prime minister has slammed the idea and said those who supporting it are "clamouring for us to turn our backs on the only democracy in the Middle East".

Three British nationals killed in an Israeli air strike in Gaza
Three British aid workers were killed in an Israeli air strike in Gaza. Picture: World Central Kitchen

James (Jim) Henderson, 33, John Chapman, 57, and James Kirby, 47 were named by World Central Kitchen as the three Britons who were killed delivering food parcels.

Rishi Sunak described the deaths as "appalling".

Two officers were sacked over the strikes, which were described as a "grave mistake stemming from a serious failure".

Foreign Secretary Lord David Cameron said the UK will review findings of the initial IDF report into the incident.

Read more: ‘We won't stop until they're home’: Brother of Israeli hostage twins says he is scared ‘the world will forget about us’

In his column for The Daily Mail, Mr Johnson said Israel is under a greater existential threat than at any time he can remember.

"If we ban the sale of arms ourselves, it surely follows that we do not think any self-respecting country should be arming the Israelis.

"And if we are willing everyone, including the U.S., to end their military support, be in no doubt what that means. There is only one logical conclusion.

"We are willing the military defeat of Israel and the victory of Hamas. Remember that in order to win this conflict, Hamas only has to survive. All they need at the end is to hang on, rebuild, and go again.

"That’s victory for Hamas; and that is what these legal experts seem to be asking for."

Pro-Palestine protesters stage a demonstration outside the Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Pro-Palestine protesters stage a demonstration outside the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Picture: Alamy

He went on: "I do not for one minute deny the immense suffering of the people of Gaza. I just ask you to consider who is really to blame for it."

He added Lord Cameron had been silent on the issue, saying the Foreign Secretary had "gone into a kind of purdah" on arms sales.

Mr Johnson said it was "shattering" to see deaths of three British aid workers, but that Israel was sending warnings of their attacks and "trying to use precision munitions".

"Israel is trying to make sure that there is some kind of proportionality between the military objectives and the risk of human suffering. Israel is trying to winkle out the Hamas terrorists, while doing its best to spare the surrounding population."

Israeli attacks continue on Gaza
Israeli attacks continue on Gaza. Picture: Getty

He went on: "If we ban arms to Israel now, it would, of course, be absurdly hypocritical.

"I don’t remember many qualms about loss of civilian life during the Nato strikes on Libya.

Read more: Two IDF officers sacked over fatal strike on aid workers as charity vehicles hit when logos ‘could not be seen at night’

"We sustained — very sensibly — our vast arms deals with Saudi Arabia throughout the war in Yemen.

"But it’s not the hypocrisy I mind. It’s the implication: that good, clever, kindly people in this country are actually willing to take away, from Israel, its means of defending its citizens against Hamas.

"That is insane. That is shameful — and the sooner the Government formally denounces the idea, the better."

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