LONDON Aug 12 Britain said on Tuesday it would
suspend 12 licences to export military items to Israel,
including tank, aircraft and radar parts, if hostilities with
Hamas in Gaza resumed, citing concerns the exports may be used
to breach international laws.
Britain said last week it was reviewing all arms export
licences to Israel after fierce fighting which has resulted in
heavy civilian casualties in the Palestinian enclave of Gaza.
That review concluded on Tuesday that 12 licences would be
temporarily suspended pending further investigation if the
current truce breaks down and heavy fighting resumes.
"The UK government has not been able to clarify if the
export licence criteria are being met," Business Secretary Vince
Cable said in a statement.
"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."
Israel says its operation in Gaza is self-defence, aimed at
stopping rockets being fired from the enclave by Islamist
According to a report by a British parliamentary committee
last month, outstanding government-approved contracts for export
of dual use or military goods to Israel are worth more than 7.8
billion pounds ($13 billion). These include contracts to supply
body armour, drone components and missile parts.
Cable's department said the vast majority of export licences
were not for items that could be used by Israeli forces in its
operations in Gaza, but it was unable to immediately confirm the
value of the licences that could be suspended.
Britain said that the suspensions would not include
components for Israel's "Iron Dome" system which protects the
country from rockets fired by Hamas.
Last week Sayeeda Warsi, a senior Foreign Office minister,
resigned, accusing Prime Minister David Cameron's government of
taking a "morally indefensible" approach on Gaza.
(Reporting by William James; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)