Campaigners call on UK government to end military ties with Israel

By staff writers
11 Jul 2014

Campaigners are calling for the UK to end its military ties with Israel.

The UK has consistently given extensive political and military support to Israel. Earlier this year the Prime Minister, David Cameron, described his support for Israel as "unbreakable".

The UK agreed over £10 million of military licences to Israel in 2013 alone. In addition to the military equipment supplied directly from the UK, there are components which go into equipment destined for Israel. A Ministerial Statement on 21 April 2009, by the then Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary David Miliband, confirmed that Israeli equipment used in Gaza in the 2008-9 conflict "almost certainly" contained UK-supplied components.

Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) says the relationship is two-way, with the UK spending millions of pounds each year on 'battle-tested' arms from Israeli companies. One growing link is in the area of unmanned aerial vehicles or drones.

In 2005, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) awarded UAV Tactical Systems Ltd (U-TacS), a joint venture between Israeli arms company Elbit Systems and its partner company Thales UK, a contract which would ultimately be worth nearly £1 billion for the development of the Watchkeeper WK450 drones, says CAAT.

Israeli arms companies will exhibit at the Farnborough Air Show (14-20 July) which CAAT has described as as a shop window for the UK arms industry. At least seventeen UK-based exhibitors have applied for military export licences to Israel in recent years.

Ann Feltham of Campaign Against Arms Trade said: "We know UK-produced military equipment has been used by Israel in its previous actions. An embargo on all military exports to, and military collaboration with, Israel is essential to send a strong message to the Israeli government that the UK does not support its military action against the Palestinians."

Campaigners are also calling for pressure to be exerted on the EU to review the EU Israel Association Agreement, which includes funding for military research and development via the Horizon 2020 research and development funding program, which is worth €80 billion.

[Ekk/4]

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