The decision by the Labour Party to call for an end to arms sales to Israel on Wednesday has been challenged by leading UK Jewish groups.
As Breitbart Jerusalem reported, the Labour annual conference in Liverpool approved a motion that condemned Israel for recent Palestinian casualties at the Gaza border and called for an immediate halt of UK arms sales to the Jewish state.
The move was immediately applauded by anti-Israel groups.
Great News! UK Labour Party has voted to freeze arms sales to Israel, rekindling hope that Israel’s South Africa moment is getting closer. Palestinians had urged Labour to end UK complicity in Israel’s crimes against Palestinians, most critically by adopting a military embargo pic.twitter.com/c7xWREjvpa
— BDS Movement (@BDSmovement) September 25, 2018
Latest figures reveal last year the UK issued £221m worth of arms licences to defence companies exporting to Israel. This made Israel the UK’s eighth largest market for UK arms companies, an increase on the previous year’s figure of £86m, itself a substantial rise on the £20m worth of arms licensed in 2015.
In total, over the past five years, Israel has bought more than £350m worth of UK military hardware.
Marie van der Zyl, president of the Board of Deputies community organization, defended this bilateral arms trade. She pinpointed the security threats Israel faces and UK-Israel security cooperation, which if halted could be detrimental to the security of British citizens, according to the Jerusalem Post.
“Israel is situated in a region of unique turmoil and threat, faced with implacable enemies determined to kill civilians and ultimately destroy Israel in its entirety. This includes terrorist organizations who in the past few years have murdered hundreds of Jewish and Arab civilians,” Van der Zyl said.
She continued, adding that an arms embargo could threaten British jobs and security while maintaining, “It is absolutely right to provide arms for the country’s defence.”
“Decreasing military cooperation, including arms sales, could endanger British civilians and assets in both the Middle East and in the UK,” she added, saying that the Board of Deputies was “disappointed but not surprised” with the motion, which she derided as “irresponsible” and “misguided.”
— Palestinians abroad (@PalesAbroadE) September 26, 2018
In 2016 the UK issued licences for anti-armour ammunition, gun mountings, components for air-to-air missiles, targeting equipment, components for assault rifles, components for grenade-launchers and anti-riot shields.
The Post reports Labour Friends of Israel parliamentary group was also critical of the motion seeking to end that trade, with LFI director Jennifer Gerber calling it “deeply disturbing but sadly unsurprising.”
Said Gerber, “One-sided resolutions, denunciations of the world’s only Jewish state, antisemitic conspiracy theories and an abject failure to recognize the existential threats posed to Israel, show that this is a party which is no longer remotely serious about peace.”
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