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Brits Want the UK to Ban Arms Sales to Israel But its Political Leaders Aren’t Listening

A new poll commissioned by Byline Times suggests that supporters of all political parties now back an embargo on all arms sales to Israel

People inspect the site where World Central Kitchen workers were killed in Deir al-Balah, Gaza Strip, Tuesday, April 2, 2024. Photo: Associated Press / Alamy

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Almost seven in ten British voters support a ban on UK arms sales to Israel, a new poll commissioned by Byline Times suggests.

According to the poll, conducted last week by pollsters We Think, 68% of those surveyed said they would support a ban on arms sales to the country, compared to just 32% who were opposed.

A majority of supporters of all major political parties support a ban, the poll suggests, with even 56% of those Conservative voters surveyed agreeing.

The poll was conducted before Israel’s attack on an aid convoy on Tuesday, which killed seven aid workers, including three Brits.

A number of aid charities and humanitarian groups have since suspended their operations in the country in the wake of the attack, due to safety concerns.

An Israeli spokesperson insisted the fatal attack on the World Central Kitchen aid convoy, was due to a “misdentification”.

Asked about the incident on Wednesday, the UK’s former national security adviser Lord Peter Ricketts said that the UK should now ban all arms sales to the country.

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Ricketts told the BBC Radio 4 Today Programme that “I think there’s abundant evidence now that Israel hasn’t been taking enough care to fulfil its obligations on the safety of civilians. And a country that gets arms from the UK has to comply with international humanitarian law. That’s a condition of the arms export licence. So honestly, I think the time has come to send that signal.”

Last week 130 MPs from across the House of Commons called for the UK to “immediately suspend export licenses for arms transfers to Israel.”

The UK has imposed a ban on arms sales to Israel in the past. Tony Blair’s government imposed a de facto arms embargo on the country in 2002 in response to the country’s then operations in Palestine

However, both the UK Government and the opposition Labour Party currently opposes a ban.

Asked in the wake of Israel’s World Central Kitchen attack, whether Labour would support an embargo on Israel, the party’s national campaign co-ordinator Pat McFadden told Sky News on Tuesday that the party would continue to back selling arms to “allies” like Israel as long as they “abide by international law.”

A spokesperson for Rishi Sunak said that any decision on selling arms to Israel would remain “under review” but “our position remains that we support Israel’s right to self defence.”

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