The government has today announced the findings of a review of licensed exports to Israel. It has found that the vast majority of exports currently licensed for Israel are not for items that could be used by Israeli forces in operations in Gaza in response to attacks by Hamas.
Twelve licences have now been identified for components which could be part of equipment used by the Israel Defence Forces in Gaza. Currently there is a ceasefire in place and the government continues to urge both sides to respect this and to secure a lasting end to hostilities through the negotiations taking place in Cairo. However, in the event of a resumption of significant hostilities, the government is concerned that it would not be able to clarify if the export licence criteria are being met. It would therefore suspend these licences as a precautionary step.
Business Secretary Vince Cable said:
We welcome the current ceasefire in Gaza and hope that it will lead to a peaceful resolution. However the UK government has not been able to clarify if the export licence criteria are being met. In light of that uncertainty we have taken the decision to suspend these existing export licences in the event of a resumption of significant hostilities.
No new licences of military equipment have been issued for use by the Israeli Defence Force during the review period and as a precautionary measure this approach will continue until hostilities cease.
The UK aims to have one of the most rigorous and transparent export licence regimes in the world with strict criteria governing the provision of licences. In the event of the renewal of significant hostilities, the government’s concern is that it may not have sufficient information to determine whether the licence assessment criteria have been contravened, for example, whether a serious violation of international humanitarian law has occurred and whether equipment containing UK components has been used. It therefore would suspend licences while it establishes more information.
The government continues to monitor closely the situation in Israel and Gaza, and if existing licences are found to be no longer consistent with the criteria, those licences will be revoked.
The priority remains lasting peace in the region that allows both Israelis and Palestinians to live alongside one another securely and peacefully. The UK government will continue to work closely with colleagues in the EU and the US to help achieve this.
Notes to editors
- The suspensions will not include the single licence granted in February 2013 for the export of up to £7.7 billion of cryptographic equipment. This licence covers equipment that could be used to build mobile phone networks in residential areas and for small businesses. None of this equipment meets military specifications and would not be suitable for building military communications equipment.
- The licences covered by today’s announcement relate to export licences for military equipment that could be used by the Israeli Defence Force in Gaza. They include components for military radar systems, combat aircraft and tanks. Suspensions would not include components of Israel’s Iron Dome missile shield which helps to protect Israelis from Hamas rocket attacks, commercial exports, or components for manufacture of equipment to be supplied to countries outside Israel.
- The procedures for assessing licence applications are based on 8 consolidated EU and national arms export licensing criteria and address the risks of irresponsible arms transfers.