‘Take Immediate Measures to End Genocide Risk’ – Over 600 Lawyers Urge UK Government 

More than 600 lawyers, academics and retired senior judges have called on the British government to suspend arms provisions to the Israeli government. (Image: Palestine Chronicle)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

“The UK must take immediate measures to bring to an end through lawful means acts giving rise to a serious risk of genocide.”

More than 600 lawyers, academics and retired senior judges have called on the British government to inter alia, impose sanctions on those inciting genocide in Gaza as well as suspend arms provisions to the Israeli government.

In a 17-page letter, dated April 3, 2024, the signatories, including three former supreme court justices, said they “share deep concern about the catastrophe unfolding in the Gaza Strip.”

The signatories said that in a letter dated October 26, 2023, “over a thousand members of the legal profession wrote to you concerning your Government’s obligations to avert and avoid complicity in serious breaches of International Humanitarian Law (“IHL”) in Gaza.”

Since then, the letter stated, there have been significant developments concerning the situation in Gaza.

“These include the provisional order of the International Court of Justice dated 26 January 2024, by which the Court concluded that there was a plausible risk of genocide in Gaza;  UN Security Council Resolution 2728 on 25 March 2024 demanding an immediate ceasefire during the month of Ramadan; and the worsening situation in Gaza, where the UN and international aid agencies warn of imminent famine, and where a ground offensive is threatened in Rafah, the last place of refuge for two-thirds of the population.”

In light of those developments, the signatories reminded the Government of its “obligations under international law.”

Resume UNRWA Funding

They called on the government to work “actively and effectively” to secure a permanent ceasefire in Gaza, as well as take “all available measures” to ensure safe access to and delivery of humanitarian aid to Palestinians in the besieged enclave.

This includes “confirmation that UK funding to UNRWA will continue with immediate effect,” the signatories said.

UNRWA funding was withdrawn following Israel’s unsubstantiated allegations that staff were involved in the October 7 resistance operation.

They also called on the government “to impose sanctions upon individuals and entities who have made statements inciting genocide against Palestinians.”

“By imposing financial and/or immigration sanctions upon individuals who have incited the commission of genocide the UK would deter further such incitement and thus be acting to prevent genocide in accordance with its obligations under the Genocide Convention,” the letter, which also reportedly amounts to a legal opinion, stated.

Suspend Arms Sales

The letter also urged the suspension “of provision of weapons and weapons systems” to the Israeli government, stating “The provision of military assistance and material to Israel may render the UK complicit in genocide as well as serious breaches of IHL. Customary international law recognises the concept of ‘aiding and assisting’ an international wrongful act.”

“The 2030 Roadmap should be suspended,” the letter further stated, and “to initiate a review into the suspension of the UK’s bilateral trade agreement with Israel and consider the imposition of sanctions.”

The letter said, “The UK must take immediate measures to bring to an end through lawful means acts giving rise to a serious risk of genocide.”

It added, “Failure to comply with its own obligations under the Genocide Convention to take ‘all measures to prevent genocide which were within its power’ would incur UK state responsibility for the commission of an international wrong, for which full reparation must be made.”

The signatories expressed concern that the UK government “is failing in its international obligations in these respects.”

“While we welcome the increasingly robust calls by your Government for a cessation of fighting and the unobstructed entry to Gaza of humanitarian assistance,  simultaneously to continue (to take two striking examples) the sale of weapons and weapons systems to Israel and to maintain threats of suspending UK aid to UNRWA falls significantly short of your Government’s obligations under international law.”

The letter’s signatories include former Supreme Court justices Lord Sumption and Lord Wilson, former Lord Justices of Appeal Sir Stephen Sedley, Sir Alan Moses, Sir Anthony Hooper and Sir Richard Aikens, as well as former Bar of England and Wales Chair, Matthias Kelly, KC.

‘Complicity in Killing Innocents’ – Scottish Leader Urges Halt of Arms Sales to Israel

Mounting Pressure

Pressure is mounting on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to take action after seven international World Central Kitchen (WCK) aid workers, including three British citizens, were killed in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza on Monday.

Scotland’s First Minister Humza Yousaf on Wednesday reiterated his appeal to the UK government to suspend arms sales to Israel.

“By not stopping arms sales to Israel, the UK is in danger of being complicit in the killing of innocent civilians,” Yousaf said in a letter to Sunak.

Israel has admitted to the killings of the World Central Kitchen (WCK) aid workers with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calling it “a tragic event in which our forces unintentionally harmed non-combatants,” and adding “This happens in war.”

‘Totally Unacceptable’ – 130 Parliamentarians Urge UK Government to Ban Arms Sales to Israel

UK ‘Complicit’

According to the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), the UK government and arms industry is complicit in Israel’s killing of the aid workers, including three British citizens.

“The workers were killed by a strike from a Hermes 450 drone manufactured by Elbit Systems. The Hermes 450 is powered by a UK-made R902(W) Wankel engine, produced by Elbit subsidiary UAV Engines Limited in the UK,” CAAT said in a statement on Thursday.

Since 2015, the UK has licensed £487m ($615 million) worth of weapons to Israel, the organization stressed. However, this does not include equipment exported via open licences.

Israel is Breaking International Law in Gaza – UK Government Silent on Legal Advice

“In particular, 15% of the value of every US-made F-35 combat aircraft, which Israel uses to bomb Gaza, is made in the UK, exports for which are covered by an open licence with no limit on the quantity or value of exports,” CAAT said.

The organization conservatively estimates that the work on the 36 F-35s exported to Israel up to 2023 has been worth at least £368m to the UK arms industry.

Call from Parliamentarians

Last month, 130 British parliamentarians signed a letter urging the British government to ban arms sales to Israel.

According to the Guardian, the parliamentarians wrote in the letter that “business as usual” for arms exports to Israel is “totally unacceptable” amid the ongoing war on Gaza.

The British government also received advice from its lawyers that Israel has violated international humanitarian law in the Gaza Strip, but failed to make the information public, according to a leaked recording obtained by the Observer newspaper.

Alicia Kearns, the Conservative Chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, reportedly said “The Foreign Office has received official legal advice that Israel has broken international humanitarian law but the government has not announced it.”

(The Palestine Chronicle)

(The Palestine Chronicle is a registered 501(c)3 organization, thus, all donations are tax deductible.)
Our Vision For Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders & Intellectuals Speak Out

1 Comment

  1. “… UK state responsibility for the commission of an international wrong.” — the UK created the original “international wrong” – Balfour, Partition, etc. – and, UK imperialist again, committing the present “international wrong” – again! Worse, PM Sunak follows his worse impulses, White British Imperialism and Brown Indian (Modi) Imperialism: Palestine and Kashmir. Both Netanyahu and Modi specifically refer Gaza as their own justification “international wrong”. They both follow the White Western Imperial model.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.