The UK has dismissed a petition asking the key EU power to put an arms embargo on Israel and press other countries to stop supplying arms to Tel Aviv, over its conduct in the Gaza War.
The petition on the prime minister’s office site was initiated by a man named Yusuf Ibrahim and was signed by over 38,000 people — far more than the quorum 500 signatures it needed to receive a response from the office.
The government responded last week to the petition posted to forestall another Operation Cast Lead, which left more than 1,450 Palestinians killed in the Gaza Strip and left thousands of others wounded in late December 2008 and early January.
The petitioners called on Gordon Brown "to do everything in his power to impose an arms embargo on Israel in light of the recent Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip and to apply pressure on countries supplying Israel with arms that breach international agreements with the intention of restoring lasting peace to the region."
It further accused Tel Aviv of provoking tension and violence in the Middle East, calling on London to show its commitment to establishing peace in the region by sending "a clear message to Israel that this government will not accept the prolonged armed conflict.”
In its last week response, the British government, however, ruled out the practicality of an embargo and supported Israel’s "right to defend itself.”
The government, however, maintained that it regularly turns down Israeli requests for weapons, noting that "each export license request is assessed on a case-by-case basis and conduct in recent conflicts is always taken into account.”
"We will not grant export licenses where there is a clear risk that arms will be used for external aggression or internal repression."
London also reiterated its commitment to a two-state solution and to helping the Palestinian Authority, emphasizing the need for the Israeli authorities to stop all settlement activity in the occupied Palestine.
Israel must also ease restrictions on crossings for aid, trade goods and reconstruction materials, as well as flows of people in the beleaguered Gaza, under Israel’s paralyzing blockade since June 2007.