The British government has blocked almost one third of British military exports to Israel this year, citing possible threats to regional stability and fears the equipment might facilitate human rights violations.I hear the air is very thin at those moral altitudes.
According to official figures, the value of UK military sales arms to Israel declined by one third last year, and has fallen by a drastic 75 percent since 2005.
"There is evidence that the British government's export control policy to Israel may have been tightened up," said Parliament's new 2007 Strategic Export Controls report, issued by the Quadrapartite Commission, which comprises representatives from four ministries.
The change in policy, said the report, reflects a convergence of government attitudes with its own official guidelines.
The report comes amid a period of uncertainty in Anglo-Israeli relations . . .
Outside of government, the opposition Liberal Democrat party has called for a rethinking of arms sales to Israel, while in May the UK's Legal Services Commission, the state agency that provides funding for attorney's fees for indigent defendants, agreed to underwrite the costs of litigation brought by a Palestinian man in a British court seeking a ban on arms sales to Israel.
The August 7 Quadripartite Committee report largely praised the government's overall handling of strategic exports but warned that the rapid pace of technological change and rising threat of terrorism required increased state vigilance . . .
While the "case-by-case" approach gave the government a "flexibility" that allowed a "latitude to adjust policy without the need for public explanation," its arms sales policies towards Israel were "neither transparent nor accountable," the panel found.
The committee asked that "the government explain its policy on licensing exports to Israel, Jordan or other countries in the Middle East and that it explain whether it has adjusted its policy since 1997 as events in the Occupied Territories and Middle East have unfolded."
"We further recommend that the government explain how it assesses whether there is a clear risk‚ that a proposed export to Israel might be used for internal repression," it said.[...]
Crossposted on Soccer Dad