The UK won’t suspend selling arms to Israel, Lord Cameron has confirmed

Britain has “grave concerns” about humanitarian access in Gaza but would not be suspending arms exports to Israel, Lord Cameron has said.

The Foreign Secretary said he had reviewed the most recent legal advice about the situation in Gaza, and this left the UK’s position on export licences “unchanged”.

His remarks come after the killing of seven aid workers in an air strike last week.

Speaking at a press conference in Washington, he said: “This is consistent with the advice that I and other ministers have received, and as ever we will keep the position under review.”

But, he added, the UK continued to have “grave concerns” about humanitarian access to Gaza, saying Israeli promises to “flood Gaza with aid now need to be turned into reality”.

The Government has faced increasing pressure to suspend licences for arms exports to Israel following the deaths of three British nationals in an air strike that killed seven people working for the humanitarian group World Central Kitchen.

Lord Cameron said continuing to allow arms exports put the UK in line with other “like-minded countries” and reiterated that the UK had a “robust legal process” for assessing those licences.

He added that the Government would not publish or comment on legal advice, but would “act in a way that is consistent with it”.

“We are a Government under the law and that’s as it should be,” he said

“So far, no like-minded countries have taken the decision to suspend existing arms export licences to Israel, and I’d add that Israel remains a vital defence and security partner to the UK.

“Let me be clear though, we continue to have grave concerns around the humanitarian access issue in Gaza, both for the period that was assessed and subsequently.”

Lord Cameron, who had earlier met Donald Trump for talks at his Florida home, said the UK and US may need to start looking at a “plan B” for the Israel-Hamas conflict if the current strategy does not work and there is an attack on Rafah.

“We have a very clear plan A for how we bring this conflict to an end,” he said.

“We have a temporary pause, we turn that into a sustainable ceasefire, we see Hamas leaders removed from Gaza, we see the terrorist infrastructure taken down. That is the way to have a political process that brings the war to an end.

“But we have to be aware if that doesn’t work, we have to think about what is plan B, what can humanitarian and other organisations do to make sure that if there is a conflict in Rafah that people can achieve safety, they can get food, they can get water, they can get medicine, and people are kept safe.

“I think that’s something we are going to have to be looking at and we were talking about today.”

Lord David Cameron said his discussion with Mr Trump was “entirely proper” and covered “a range of important geopolitical subjects”.

He said the meeting was “in line with precedent of Government ministers meeting with opposition politicians in the run-up to elections”.

Asked what had been said of Mr Trump’s position on Ukraine, he said: “These things are entirely proper but it was a private meeting so I haven’t really got anything to add but we discussed a range of important geopolitical subjects.”

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