SPEAKING on 9 April at a press conference in New York on the conflict in Gaza, David Cameron mentioned the need to have a ‘plan B’ should the conflict escalate into Rafah and said that the UK’s arms export to Israel will continue.

Responding, Oxfam’s Chief Impact Officer, Aleema Shivji, said: “There is no plan B for more than a million desperate people currently sheltering in Rafah – if Israel launches a ground offensive, then the scale of the crisis would be catastrophic. Instead of planning for how aid agencies can operate in even more dangerous conditions, the UK government should be using every diplomatic and economic lever at its disposal to press Israel to not launch the offensive. This must include immediately stopping all arms sales to Israel.

“It is incomprehensible that the UK is devising a humanitarian plan for an Israeli offensive into Rafah while UK-made arms and components could be used to harm Palestinian civilians in the very same offensive.

“The UK must do everything in its power to ensure the only plan is for an immediate and permanent ceasefire to end the death and destruction, enable more vital aid gets to those who need it, and secure the release of hostages.”

Campaign Against Arms Trade also released a statement in response to the Foreign Secretary’s remarks. The statement in full:

David Cameron’s announcement that the UK will continue arming Israel is outrageous and illegal given the mounting and indisputable evidence that Israel is committing war crimes amounting to genocide. Rishi Sunak, David Cameron, and the rest of the government, alongside the UK arms trade, are complicit in these war crimes, and they should face the consequences of this complicity.

The UK government treats Palestinian lives with utter contempt, ignoring this overwhelming evidence in favour of preserving the profits of arms dealers.This government is making a mockery of international law, ignoring over 600 legal professionals, UN experts and its own civil servants in continuing to arm Israel.

This is a decision that parliament urgently needs to scrutinise. The announcement should have been made in parliament, not at a press conference, in another country, lasting just a couple of minutes. This allowed Cameron to claim, unchallenged, that the UK is acting ‘consistently’ with legal advice. But senior Conservative MP and Foreign Affairs Committee chair, Alicia Kearns, has accused the government of suppressing legal advice stating that Israel is violating international law. It is not good enough for Cameron to simply say the UK is following the law. This legal advice must be published and subjected to parliamentary scrutiny.

International law provides a foundation for global peace. The world is not made safer by the UK arming Israel. It is made safer when states abide by international law, and when there are clear consequences if they fail to do so. Cameron’s statement gives Israel impunity for the horrific war crimes it has committed over the last six months, and gives Netanyahu the green light to proceed with his planned destruction of Rafah and inflict even more devastating atrocities on the people of Gaza.

Over the last week, the government has faced immense pressure to halt arms sales. It is still resisting. We have to keep up that pressure, not only on this government, but on the Labour Party to finally take a stand and call for a total arms embargo.

But we can’t just wait for the government to take action. It is also down to us. Every day the government allows arms sales to continue is another day arms dealers profit from genocide. Every day people are taking action against these death merchants. This must continue, Every single company that supplies weapons or military equipment must be held to account.

* Sources: Oxfam GB  and Campaign Against Arms Trade