Britain’s business secretary said Tuesday London would halt some arms exports to Israel if fighting resumed in Gaza.
Vince Cable will cancel 12 arms export licenses to Israel, covering components for radar systems, combat aircraft and tanks, according to a statement from the Department for Business Innovation and Skills.
Cable, of the minority Liberal-Democrat coalition party, said the export licenses would be revoked if fighting renewed after a 72-hour truce currently being used for the sides to negotiate a longterm ceasefire. The truce ends Wednesday at midnight.
“We welcome the current ceasefire in Gaza and hope that it will lead to a peaceful resolution. However, the UK government has not been able to clarify if the export licence criteria are being met,” Cable said in a statement. “In light of that uncertainty, we have taken the decision to suspend these existing export licences in the event of a resumption of significant hostilities.”
Cable also said that the UK would continue to not grant new licenses while the conflict persisted.
A number of politicians and activists in Britain had pushed for a full arms embargo on Israel regardless of whether fighting resumed again or not.
“It is a very weak position and it will be seen as a sign of political support for the Israeli government,” Andrew Smith from Campaign Against Arms Trade told the Huffington Post UK.
A spokesperson from Cable’s Liberal Democrat party told the BBC that faction wanted an embargo on arms to Israel, but had to negotiate with the main governing Conservative party.
This is “as far as we have been able to reach in collective agreement with the Conservatives,” the spokesperson said.
The move comes a week after Foreign Office minister Sayeeda Warsi quit her post to protest British policy vis-a-vis Israel. She called Britain’s arms sales to Israel “morally indefensible.”
The issue of export licenses has proved a major point of contention between Prime Minister David Cameron and Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond, against Cable and Liberal Democrat head Nick Clegg, according to The Guardian.
Nearly NIS 250 million in export licenses for military equipment have been granted to British firms since 2010, according to the Guardian.