UK's Arms Trade with Israel September 2016

Thank you for contacting me recently regarding the UK's arms trade with Israel.

I agree that all arms exports should be subject to rigorous and transparent assessment and I know that organisations such as Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) have expressed concern about UK arms exports to Israel, particularly following the hostilities in Gaza in 2014.

I believe it is important to ensure our arms exports system has proper accountability and transparency, and is being correctly exercised, including in respect of human rights.

As you may know, all export licence applications are considered on a case-by-case basis through the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria. These criteria cover a range of considerations, including the potential for serious violation of international humanitarian law.

States, of course, have the right to acquire the means to defend themselves, and the Government has a clear responsibility to ensure that arms are only sold for defensive purposes.

The Government has made it clear that it does not believe a blanket arms embargo on Israel is appropriate. However, the Government has stated that it monitors the situation in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories and takes into account the latest circumstances when assessing licence applications.

It is ultimately the Government's responsibility to make sure it is implementing its own arms exports rules, and I acknowledge that any perceived failure in doing so would seriously undermine Britain in the eyes of the world.

More widely, I share the frustration and disappointment expressed by many at the lack of progress on the Middle East Peace Process and the need to find a negotiated two-state solution. I believe every effort should be made to see an immediate return to meaningful negotiations, and I will continue to press the Government on the steps it is taking to achieve this.

Thank you once again for writing to me and for sharing your views. I can assure you that I will continue to follow this issue closely and bear in mind the points you raise.