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

British Prime Minister Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. (Photo: Simon Dawson / No 10 Downing Street, via Wikimedia Commons)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

“The Foreign Office has received official legal advice that Israel has broken international humanitarian law but the government has not announced it.”

The British government has 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, made the comments at a fundraiser for the Tory Party on March 13, reported the Guardian, sister paper to the Observer.

“The Foreign Office has received official legal advice that Israel has broken international humanitarian law but the government has not announced it,” she is quoted as having said.

“They have not said it, they haven’t stopped arms exports. They have done a few very small sanctions on Israeli settlers and everyone internationally is agreed that settlers are illegal, that they shouldn’t be doing what they’re doing, and the ways in which they have continued and the money that’s been put in.”

‘Intense Pressure’

The paper said that Kearns, who has repeatedly pressed ministers, including foreign secretary David Cameron on the issue, stood by her comments and called for the government to come clean.

The former Foreign Office and Ministry of Defense official is reported as having said on Saturday night that she remained “convinced the government has completed its updated assessment on whether Israel is demonstrating a commitment to international humanitarian law, and that it has concluded that Israel is not demonstrating this commitment, which is the legal determination it has to make.”

“Transparency at this point is paramount, not least to uphold the international rules-based order,” she added.

The revelation placed Cameron and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak “under intense pressure,” the Guardian said because such legal advice would mean the UK had to halt all arms sales to Israel immediately.

The paper further said that failure to do so, “would risk putting the UK in breach of international law itself, as it would be seen as aiding and abetting war crimes by a country it was exporting arms to.”

MPs Urge Arms Sales Ban

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

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

Noting that the UK government had suspended its arms sales to Israel, in two previous wars on the Strip, the letter reportedly concluded that “the scale of violence committed by the Israeli military is vastly more deadly, but the UK government has failed to act”.

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

The UK’s arms exports to Israel amounted to £42m in 2022, said the paper.

Former lord chancellor Charles Falconer warned that a legal assessment that Israel had breached international law meant the UK would be prevented from sharing intelligence with Tel Aviv, the paper further reported.

“Governments who abide by the rule of law cannot ignore mounting evidence of breach which would then put those governments in breach if they continued assisting,” Falconer reportedly said.

Israeli Government Spokesman Resigns

Meanwhile, Eylon Levy, the Israeli government spokesman, resigned on Sunday amid a row over his public criticism of Cameron.

His resignation came three weeks after he was suspended following a complaint by the British Foreign Office about a tweet in which he responded to Cameron’s remarks concerning humanitarian aid to Gaza.

Levy changed his bio on his X account to “Former Israeli Government Spokesman,” and posted “You don’t need to be a spokesperson to speak up for Israel.”

On March 8, Cameron posted: “We continue to urge Israel to allow more trucks into Gaza as the fastest way to get aid to those who need it.”

The Israeli spokesman responded on X by saying: “I hope you (British Minister Cameron) are also aware there are NO limits on the entry of food, water, medicine, or shelter equipment into Gaza, and in fact the crossings have EXCESS capacity.”

“Test us. Send another 100 trucks a day to Kerem Shalom and we’ll get them in,” Levy added.

Israel’s Channel 12 had reportedly said the UK’s Foreign Office contacted the Israeli government, asking if Levy’s posts reflected their official position.

The channel said his suspension followed “a series of diplomatic incidents in which he was involved – including an unusual response to a tweet by the British Foreign Minister.”

‘Crisis Communications’

Levy told The Times of Israel earlier on Sunday that he found it “difficult to believe” that his suspension was “really about the tweet to David Cameron because I tweeted government policy and facts.”

“I definitely think that one of the lessons that will have to be learned for the next war — please God, there won’t be a next war — is improving our response to crisis communications,” the paper reported Levy as saying.

Broken Ribs – This is What Happens when International Aid is Dropped over Gaza

Levy said on X that he had done “over 400 media interviews, briefings and press conferences as an official spokesperson on behalf of the Israeli government since October 7.”

(The Palestine Chronicle)

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