British Parliament in London
British Parliament in LondonRennett Stowe

The British government will consider suspending arms export licenses to Israel if it goes ahead with a ground offensive on the city of Rafah in southern Gaza, The Guardian reported on Wednesday.

According to the report, as the humanitarian situation in Gaza has worsened, diplomatic pressure has been mounting on the UK to follow other countries and suspend arms exports to Israel.

Ministerial sources said that while no decision had been made about a suspension of arms export licenses, the UK had the ability to respond quickly if the legal advice to ministers said that Israel was in breach of international humanitarian law.

The UK has joined other allies in pressuring Israel to avoid a ground offensive in Rafah. In a letter to the foreign affairs select committee about arms export controls to Israel published on Tuesday, Foreign Secretary David Cameron said he could not see how an offensive in Rafah could go ahead without harming civilians and destroying homes.

In the Commons, the UK foreign minister Andrew Mitchell underscored that an offensive in Rafah represented a red line for the UK government, telling MPs on Wednesday that the UK was urging the Israeli government not to launch an attack that could have “devastating consequences”, according to The Guardian.

At a meeting in Geneva on Wednesday on the Arms Trade Treaty, UK officials were accused by Palestinian Arab diplomats of breaking the treaty by refusing to rescind arms sales after the ICC ruled that Israel must ensure its forces did not commit acts of genocide against Palestinians in Gaza.

British officials told the meeting, according to The Guardian, “We can and do respond quickly and flexibly to changing and fluid situations.”