After Gaza war, UK cuts some arms sales to Israel
Britain has cancelled the planned sale of some military components to Israel following an export review prompted by the December-January war in the Gaza Strip, an Israeli official said on Monday, Reuters reported.
London cancelled five out of 182 licensed British arms exports to Israel, the official said, all involving equipment for the Saar 4.5 class Corvette, a naval vessel that took part in the offensive which killed more than 1,400 Palestinians.
British Foreign Minister David Milliband announced the review in April after some legislators pressed for an arms embargo on both Israel and the Hamas Islamists ruling Gaza.
British exports of sensitive products that are for military use or that can have both civilian or military applications need a licence. Britain says it will not grant a licence if there is a clear risk of exports being used either for internal repression or for external aggression.
The cancelled sales were first reported in Israel's Haaretz newspaper, which described the move as a "partial arms embargo". But in a preliminary response, the British embassy in Tel Aviv said there had been no change in policy.
"We do not believe that the current situation in the Middle East would be improved by imposing an arms embargo on Israel," the embassy said in a statement.
It did not elaborate on whether arms sales had been cancelled, but said: "Future decisions will take into account what has happened in the recent conflict."
Israel has weathered international censure over the civilian toll of the Gaza war, arguing that Hamas provoked the violence by firing rockets at civilian communities across the border. Thirteen Israelis were killed during the 22 days of fighting.
Israel's Defence Ministry had no immediate comment. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman brushed off the Haaretz report.
"Israel has known many cases of embargo in the past," he told Israel Radio. "We always knew how to get by, and there is no need to get excited about this."