ON Monday 19 February, the High Court ruled that it would not allow a legal case against the UK government over arms sales to Israel to proceed.

The case, brought by Global Legal Action Network (GLAN) and Palestinian human rights organisation Al-Haq, challenged the government’s refusal to suspend arms sales to Israel, despite what a senior Al-Haq lawyer described as “a credible case that Israel is committing genocide in Gaza and that the government could be in breach of the Genocide Convention by not addressing it.” GLAN and Al-Haq are mounting a challenge to the Court’s decision.

The government’s own licensing criteria states that arms sales should be halted when there is a “clear risk” that weapons could be used in violations of International Humanitarian Law (IHL). However, the court has relied on a defence submission from the government to dismiss this case. This is despite the submission revealing that, at best, Foreign Secretary David Cameron misled the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, and that the Foreign Office assessment unit had “serious concerns” over breaches of IHL. It also revealed that the government accepted that Israel has a different interpretation of IHL.

Since 2015, the UK has licensed £487 million worth of weapons and military equipment to Israel. But this figure does not include open licences, whereby companies can export an unlimited amount of specified military equipment without further reporting requirements. One such open licence is for components for the F35 combat aircraft that are currently bombing Gaza. Of every F35, 15 per cent is made by UK industry, and CAAT estimates that the contract is worth at least £336 million since 2016.

Campaign Against Arms Trade’s Media Coordinator Emily Apple said: “This is an outrageous decision. Our government and the UK arms industry is complicit in a genocide. Yet the court has decided that it won’t even hear the case. The defence submission was a farce. It showed the Foreign Office doing everything it could to justify putting the profits of arms companies before the lives of Palestinian people.

“Our government may not have a conscience. But ordinary people across the country do. Everyday people are taking action to try to prevent our arms industry profiting from genocide. If our government refuses to act, then it is down to all of us to stop this murderous trade.”

* Source: Campaign Against Arms Trade