'None of our closest allies have stopped': Rishi Sunak defends decision not to suspend arms sales to Israel

10 April 2024, 08:12

Rishi Sunak defended the UK's decision not to suspend arms sales to Israel

EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Rishi Sunak defended the UK's decision not to suspend arms sales to Israel, saying "none of our closest allies" have stopped existing export licences but added Benjamin Netanyahu "needs to do more" to alleviate suffering in Gaza.

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The conversation comes as the Government faces increasing pressure to suspend licences for arms exports to Israel following the deaths of three British nationals in an air strike that killed seven people working for the humanitarian group World Central Kitchen.

Responding to a caller during an exclusive LBC phone-in interview with Nick Ferrari, the Prime Minister said: "It was a shocking tragedy what happened to our veterans when they were selflessly carrying out aid missions into Gaza and I've also said repeatedly the situation in Gaza is increasingly intolerable, you know, the humanitarian suffering that people are experiencing isn't right and Prime Minister Netanyahu needs to do more to alleviate that.

"I've made that very clear to him."

Mr Sunak said the UK has a "long-established process" relating to the arms export regime and "we review these things regularly".

"That's led to no change. Actually, none of our closest allies have currently suspended existing arms licences either, so we continue to discuss these things with our allies."

Read more: UK will not suspend arms sales to Israel despite pressure after aid worker deaths, Foreign Secretary confirms

Read more: Campaigners stage protest outside Keir Starmer's house over arms sales to Israel

The Prime Minister was speaking to LBC's Nick Ferrari during an exclusive phone-in
The Prime Minister was speaking to LBC's Nick Ferrari during an exclusive phone-in. Picture: LBC

Yesterday Labour's shadow foreign secretary has criticised Lord Cameron's decision not to publish legal advice on arms sales to Israel.

David Lammy said: "This simply is not good enough. David Cameron is still hiding from scrutiny by stating that arms sales will continue without even publishing a summary of the legal advice or offering any rationale behind his decision.

"The Foreign Secretary should come to the Bar of the House of Commons on its return to take urgent questions from MPs on the content of the Foreign Office's legal advice, the time period of the advice he is referring to and what impact political pressure from other members of the Cabinet had on his decision.

"It's vital the UK is not complicit in any breach. If there is a clear risk that UK arms might be used in a serious breach of international humanitarian law, the Government must suspend the sale of those arms."

Braverman: Iran is 'funding and supporting proxies to carry out attacks in the UK'

Recent tragedies in Gaza are not a reason to walk away from Israel, former home secretary Suella Braverman told LBC yesterday during an exclusive interview.

Asked if the UK should still be selling arms to Israel, Ms Braverman said: "I don't think the fact that these tragedies happen is a reason to walk away from Israel, and to stop selling arms to Israel, because of that broader battle that they are engaging with."

Ms Braverman said she supported the convention that legal advice given to the Government should be confidential.

She said: "I think that the Government needs to be able to behave in an environment where legal advice is confidential and privileged."