The Commons Committees on Arms Export Controls (CAEC) revealed that the UK approved more than 3000 arms export licences totalling over £ 12 billion to 27 countries despite their poor human rights records. “Severe concern” was raised specifically about arms exports to Israel that, at £ 7.8 billion, were worth more than half of the total. The UK government granted 381 export licenses to Israel for equipment such as: all-wheel drive vehicles with ballistic protection, body armour, military helmets, components for pistols, components for assault rifles, military support vehicles, and small arms ammunition. However, most of the value of UK arms exports to Israel consisted of cryptographic equipment.
John Stanley, the chairman of the Commons Committees on Arms Export Controls (CAEC), commented: ‘[the] scale of the extant strategic licences to the FCO’s 27 countries of human rights concern puts into stark relief the inherent conflict between the government’s arms exports and human rights policies.’ MP Richard Burden, a member of the CAEC, raised further concern about the arms exports and claimed that “the UK’s human rights policy is being fundamentally undermined by the scale and nature of arms exports licenses being approved by the Government.”
The CAEC chairman John Stanley added that, ‘’[the] government should apply significantly more cautious judgments when considering arms export licence applications for goods to authoritarian regimes‚ which might be used to facilitate internal repression‚ in contravention of the government’s stated policy.’ The UK Government’s policy on arms exports states that: “We will not issue licences where we judge there is a clear risk that the proposed export might provoke or prolong regional or internal conflicts, or which might be used to facilitate internal repression.”
However, CAEC member Richard Burden – who is also the Chair of the Britain Palestine All Party Parliamentary Group – raised specific concerns about UK arms exports to Israel, and questioned the scale of the exports to the country considering that “[the] UK Government regularly expresses concern about Israel’s breaches of international law and human rights abuses.” He added that the UK Government faces serious questions about its arms exports to Israel.