Oliver Dowden Says UK Will Stop Arms Sales To Israel If It Breaks International Law

Oliver Dowden Says UK Will Stop Arms Sales To Israel If It Breaks International Law

The UK will halt arms sales to Israel if it is found to be breaking international law in its war with Hamas, Oliver Dowden has said.

The deputy prime minister said the government had “concerns” about the way the country is conducting itself in Gaza.

But he insisted that, at the moment, the legal advice “has not changed” and that arms sales to Tel Aviv could continue.

Dowden made his comments amid mounting calls for the West to stop supplying munitions to Israel as the death toll in Gaza continues to rise.

On the BBC’s ‘Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg’ show, Dowden repeatedly avoided the question when asked if Israel was acting “within the law”.

He said: “I think that Israel is conducting a legitimate campaign and it is doing so in a very, very difficult environment where it is facing Hamas – a terrorist organisation that hides within its civilian population.”

He added that foreign secretary David Cameron’s advice on whether arms exports to Israel were legal “has not changed”.

Kuenssberg then asked: “So currently, you believe Israel is acting within the law?”

Dowden replied: “The key thing is ‘is it legitimate, can we lawfully sell arms to Israel’ and yes, that is the case.”

Later in the interview, Kuenssberg asked him: “If the UK government receives legal advice that says Israel is in breach of international law, will arms sales stop.”

Dowden said: “We will of course act in accordance with our obligations in respect of arms sales, and the way that that works is there’s legal advicem, the foreign secretary reaches a judgment and he gives that advice to the business secretary.

“If it is the case that we can’t lawfully do so then of course we won’t supply those arms.

“We rightly hold ourselves to a high standard and we rightly hold the countries to whom we export arms to a high standard and that’s what you’d accept.”

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