UK Lifts Restrictions on Arms Sales to Israel

The United Kingdom (UK) has lifted the threat of an arms embargo on Israel, the Independent reports, after a year-long review of sales in light of Operation Protective Edge in Gaza. 

In August 2014, the UK threatened to halt exports during a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel during the war, arguing that its exports may have been used to defend Israel against the rain of rocket fire on Israeli civilians. 

There had been talk of tougher British arms export measures to Israel after UK Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg supported the suspension of arms exports to Israel in light of the war, over concerns about Palestinian civilian casualties.

A detailed study after Operation Protective Edge proved 49% of the casualties in Gaza were terrorists, meaning the IDF achieved a 1:1 civilian to combatant ratio almost unprecedented in urban warfare.

Twelve export licenses were under review; if suspended, the UK would have halted or severely restricted exports of components for radar systems, fighter jets and tanks. 

The review – and the threat of a permanent arms embargo if hostilities continued – was instituted by British Business Secretary Vince Cable, an MP of the Liberal Democratic party. Cable's Business department did clarify in that announcement that the "vast majority" of UK exports to Israel were "not for items that could be used by Israeli forces in operations in Gaza in response to attacks by Hamas."

Cable has since been replaced by Business Secretary Sajid Javid, a member of Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservative party who is considerably more pro-Israel. 

Javid announced Thursday that the review had finally been completed and that he was satisfied that it met the UK's export criteria.

“Following the review the Government has concluded that in the present context where the facts are clearer these criteria may now be applied, without any additional measures," the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) stated Thursday. 

The UK has reportedly exported £42 million ($70.5 million) in arms to Israel since 2010.

Source: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/198318

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