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Britain Reviewing Arms Sales to Israel

Britain is reviewing licenses to sell arms and military goods to Israel in the light of ongoing operations in Gaza.
By Elad Benari and AFP
First Publish: 8/5/2014, 3:45 AM

Cameron and Netanyahu
Cameron and Netanyahu
Flash 90

Britain is reviewing licenses to sell arms and military goods to Israel in the light of ongoing operations in Gaza, Prime Minister David Cameron's office said Monday, according to AFP.

Britain's government has approved licenses for the sale of military goods to Israel worth at least $71 million since 2010, according to government figures obtained by the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT).

These are mostly to supply weapons control and targeting systems and components for ammunition, drones and armored vehicles.

"We are currently reviewing all export licenses to Israel to confirm that we think they are appropriate," said a Downing Street spokeswoman.

"Clearly the current situation has changed compared to when some licenses will have been granted, and we're reviewing those existing licenses against the current situation, but no decisions have been taken beyond going back again and reviewing," the spokeswoman said, according to AFP.

The decision to review the contracts was taken last week, she added.

CAAT spokesman Andrew Smith welcomed the review but called for an immediate embargo on the selling of military equipment to Israel, insisting the government "should never have agreed the licenses in the first place".

"It not only facilitates, but signals approval to the actions of the Israeli government," he claimed.

The announcement from Downing Street comes after Cameron said earlier Monday that the United Nations was "right" to condemn the shelling of a UN school in Gaza which killed 10 people but declined to say whether he thought it breached international law.

Cameron was one of several European leaders to criticize Israel over its actions in Gaza.

The opposition Labour Party in recent days has criticized Cameron for not taking a tougher line against Israel.

Meanwhile, the Spanish newspaper El Pais reported Monday night that Spain has already decided to suspend weapons sales to Israel. According to the report, a ministerial committee reached that decision last Thursday.

Spanish arms sales to Israel are limited and only made up 1% of the total Spanish exports in 2013, the newspaper noted, but the move is meant to send a political message to the Jewish state.