UK breaking arms sales rules, says rights group

The use of British components in warplanes destined for Israel breaches EU rules on arms sales to repressive regimes, a Palestinian human rights group claims.

Last week, the UK’s Foreign Secretary Jack Straw revealed that his government had granted export licences for parts due to be fitted in US- made F16 fighters, bound for Israel. Straw said the ‘head-up’ display units concerned - manufactured by BAe Systems - account for less than 1% of the jets’ value. But the Jerusalem-based Palestinian Society for the Protection of Human Rights (LAW) argues that the deal contravenes the EU’s 1998 code of conduct on arms exports.

It says that EU states should not send arms to countries “if there is a clear risk that the proposed export might be used for internal 

LAW spokesman Arjan El Fassed said: “Israel’s record is inconsistent with the criteria provided for in the EU code of conduct. Export licences should therefore be refused.”

Straw has told the House of Commons in London that halting the supply of these components would have “serious implications” for Anglo-American defence cooperation. Earlier this year he had condemned Israeli troops for using British military equipment in attacks against Palestinians.

El Fassed added that equipment from Britain is used in US Apache helicopters, also exported to Israel, and that British cooling systems have helped to equip the Merkava tanks driven by the Israeli defence forces. “Germany, France and the Netherlands are also major arms traders [with Israel],” he said.
He called on the EU to impose a full-scale embargo on arms sales to Israel ”since there is no common system of monitoring the end use of European arms by the Israeli forces in the occupied Palestinian territories”.

SOURCE: European Voice