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Pressure mounting to suspend arms exports to Israel

By Staff Reporter

Labour has upped the pressure on the coalition to suspend arms exports to Israel amid renewed violence in Gaza.

Shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander urged the Government to publish its review of export licences and "act swiftly" on the findings.

He also condemned Liberal Democrat ministers for posturing on the issue without actually blocking supplies of arms to Israel.

The comments came amid an apparent stand-off between Tories and Liberal Democrats over how to respond to the bloodshed in Gaza.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has called for the suspension of arms exports – but although a review was launched last week, the Government has so far stopped short of putting licences on hold.

Mr Alexander said: "Sadly the Government's response to growing concerns regarding the possible use of British arms in the latest Gaza crisis has so far been characterised by division, disagreement, and confusion.

"It is now nearly a week since the Government accepted the need to review all existing UK arms export licences to Israel in light of the ongoing violence in Gaza.

"These licences are jointly approved by the Business Secretary and the Foreign Secretary on behalf of the Government.

"So it is neither credible nor acceptable for Liberal Democrat Ministers to be simply issuing press statements, when instead they should be issuing urgent instructions to their own officials.

"Rather than simply taking public positions, as ministers they should be taking action to address these widespread concerns.

"Labour is today demanding the immediate publication of the Government's review, and confirms our view that no arms should be being exported under existing licences whilst there remain any doubts about whether the equipment could be used for internal repression, the abuse of human rights or to provoke or prolong armed conflict. Clearly the Government should be prepared to act swiftly in the light of the outcomes of its review so that the British public can be assured that no British arms exports are in breach of the consolidated criteria."

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