Monday, October 22, 2018

US and UK arms trade likely to remain amid renewed call for embargo


By Annelies Verbeek - May 02, 2018
TAGS:
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [Gaza] [US President] [arms embargo]

“The time for symbolic statements of condemnation is now over. The international community must act concretely to stop the delivery of arms and military equipment to Israel,” Amnesty International wrote in a statement published on its website Friday April 28. The organisation renewed its call for an arms embargo against Israel as Israeli soldiers shoot peaceful protesters in Gaza. 

Palestinians have been gathering along the Gaza border fence for five weeks as a part of the “Great March of Return.” This series of events is entering its final week, and is organised to draw attention to the plight of Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip, as well as the Palestinian Right of Return to territories taken in 1948.
 
Israeli soldiers have shot non-violent protesters with live fire, killing 45 Palestinians so far. Among the dead are at least two journalists and two children. Thousands have been wounded.
 
Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) described the wounds as “devastating” and “of unusual severity.” The gunshot wounds will leave the patients with serious, long-term physical disabilities.
 
However, it is unlikely that arm supplying countries will cease military sales to Israel. The main provider of weapons to Israel is the United States.The Obama administration signed a $38 million arms deal with Israel in September 2016. The deal will extend from 2019 to 2028.
 
“We don’t know what will happen in the next ten years, but we know that the US will always be there for Israel,” US National Security Advisor Susan Rice had said at the Washington ceremony, according to Israeli newspaper Haaretz. The statement exemplified the US’ decades-old willingness to support Israel, regardless of human rights violations.
 
Meanwhile, the Trump administration is making plans for additional arms sales. The US State Department’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency published several press releases on its website informing of possible future arms deals.
 
One statement, published the same day as Amnesty’s call for arms embargo, informed of a possible sale of naval guns at an estimated worth of $440 million. In March, the Agency had published an announcement on a possible deal in equipment for precision bombardments with an estimated worth of 1.9 billion.
 
Meanwhile, UK-based NGO the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) has documented that since the Gaza war of 2014, the UK has sold approximately $450 million worth of arms to Israel. Andrew Smith of CAAT informed Palestine Monitor that the largest sales happened in the last quarter of 2017, in which the UK sold Israel approximately $251 million worth of arms.
 
Smith stated “the UK should not be fueling the abuse [of Palestinians] with political support and continued arms sales to Israel.” He emphasized that British politicians should be working towards a peaceful solutions, instead of helping weapon companies profit of pain and conflict.
 
Other countries supplying different types of military assistance to Israel include Germany, France, Brazil, India and South Korea.
 
Patrick Wilcken of Amnesty International told Palestine Monitor that Amnesty has been pressuring supplier governments for policy change. “There have been periodic suspensions of licenses. But generally, as Israeli human rights violations disappear from the news, governments quietly start supplying Israel with arms again,” Wilcken explained.
 
“However, Amnesty is continuing to press for policy change, and hopes that recent terrible events in Gaza will help refocus the minds on this issue,” Wilcken concluded.
 

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