UK takes stand against Israel

British Foreign Minister Jack Straw told parliament that the British government considers that Israel should withdraw from the Palestinian territories and stated that arms export contracts to Israel were to be reviewed.

The British Labour government initiated a policy of ethical arms sales in its first term, meaning that sales are dependant on internal and external policy. Such restrictions were originally meant for Less Developed Countries, with poor human rights records.

The British government, said Mr. Straw, is no longer prepared to take for granted Israeli assurances that weaponry was not being deployed against civilians. It has been disclosed that British Centurion tanks exported to Israel between 1958 and 1970 have been transformed into armoured personnel carriers and that these were being used in the occupied territories. Since this occupation is illegal under international law, the use of the equipment brings the Israeli policy into a collision course with Britain’s line of ethical arms exports. The official line is that military exports must not be used for external aggression or internal repression.

In November, 2000, Israel produced a written document stating that no British military equipment was being deployed in the territories.

Mr. Straw called for an immediate ceasefire for talks to be held on mutual recognition of statehood. He declared that the Oslo agreements would be a good starting point. These meetings produced documents on the future of Palestinian refugees, Israeli colonies and the city of Jerusalem.

Ann Clwyd, the Labour Member of Parliament for the Cynon Valley, visited Jenin last week. She told the House of Commons about what happened. All men over the age of 16 were ordered out onto the streets. Some, who came out with their hands above their heads, were shot dead. She said hospitals had their electricity supplies cut off. She added that UN vehicles were prohibited from circulating freely.


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