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04th Apr 2024

Sadiq Khan calls for immediate halt on British arms exports to Israel

Charlie Herbert


London Mayor Sadiq Khan has called for an immediate halt on Britain exporting arms to Israel.

The British government is facing growing pressure to stop selling weapons to Israel after seven aid workers for World Central Kitchen, including three British nationals, were killed in an air strike in Gaza.

Now, the London Mayor has become the first senior Labour figure to call for Britain to halt its export of arms to Israel.

Speaking to PoliticsJOE, Khan said he sees “no reason” for there not to be an immediate halt to all weapons exports to Israel.

Israel has been carrying out a huge military campaign in Gaza since October 7, when Hamas gunmen attacked southern Israel, killing about 1,200 people and seizing 253 hostages.

About 130 of the hostages remain in captivity, with at least 34 of these presumed dead.

Almost 33,000 people have been killed in Gaza since then, the Hamas-run health ministry says.

Speaking about the situation in Gaza, Khan told PoliticsJOE: “What I’m quite clear about is what we’ve seen since October 7. Not just what happened in Israel on October 7, and by the way those hostages should be released, but the awfulness of what’s happening in Gaza.

“Thirty-three thousand people have lost their lives, men, women and children. 13,000 children have lost their lives. And we saw in the last 48 hours, seven aid workers, three British, being targeted. Not one car, not two cars, three cars by the Israeli Defence Force (IDF).”

“I think the government should be pausing all sales of weapons to Israel. I think we should be holding to account the Israeli government.”

Khan went on to question Rishi Sunak’s claims that Britain has a “special relationship with Benjamin Netanyahu,” asking “where the evidence” is that the Prime Minister is using this to put pressure on the Israeli government.

He continued: “I worry every hour this war goes on, more innocent people are dying. We’ve got a situation where aid workers are dying, not just innocent men, women and children in Gaza. Foreign aid workers are now being killed by the IDF, it’s got to stop.”

When asked to confirm if he was calling for an “immediate halt to all exports”, the London Mayor replied: “I can see no reason not to.”

The UK government has received legal advice on whether Israel is in breach of international law and if arms being supplied to the country from Britain are being used in a violation of international humanitarian law.

However, it has yet to publish the legal advice.

In reference to this, Khan continued: “The government’s had weeks to publish the legal advice, they’ve not published it. If they publish the legal advice today and it shows there’s a breach to international law, we should halt all sales.”

Asked if he would be putting pressure on Labour leader Keir Starmer to commit to a halt in arms exports to Israel, Khan said: “It’s not about me putting pressure on Keir Starmer or anybody else. The Labour party is not the government, the Conservatives are the government.

“We have one rule for the Labour party in opposition and one rule for the Conservative government. The last time there was a Labour government, I was in it, and Gordon Brown, a few days after Israel went into Gaza, called for a ceasefire.

“The last Labour prime minister went to the United Nations and got a motion passed for a ceasefire and there was a ceasefire.

“The government now is a Conservative government and it’s Rishi Sunak and the Conservatives who should be held to account, not the Labour Party in opposition.”

Labour is calling on the government to publish the legal advice it has received in regards to Israel and whether it has breached international law.

Meanwhile, more than 600 legal experts, including three former Supreme Court justices, have signed a letter calling for the UK government to end weapons sales to Israel.

Pressure group Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) says that the UK has licensed over £574m worth of arms to Israel since 2008.

Speaking to MPs, Business Minister Greg Hands previously said the figure for 2022 was £42m and that this represented 0.02 per cent of Israel’s military imports that year.

Related links:

Richard Madeley apologises over ‘disgusting’ question he asked about Hamas on Good Morning Britain