Letter from the Foreign and Commonwealth
Office to Dr Phyllis Starkey MP
Thank you for your letter of 7 December about
arms sales to Israel following up several written parliamentary
questions. You also raised these issues in the Westminster Hall
debate on 14 December, and I should like to take this opportunity
to clarify the points raised on both of these occasions.
To address the first question in your letter,
about assurances, we are, and have been, in regular direct contact
with the Israeli Government, including at senior Israeli military
official level, as part of our ongoing enquiries to confirm that
equipment and components licensed for export from the UK have
not been, and will not be used against civilians in the Occupied
Territories or southern Lebanon. We received an assurance from
the Israeli government, on 29 November, that no equipment or components
licensed for export from the UK are used against civilians in
the Occupied Territories or in southern Lebanon. I was unable
to include a reference to this assurance in reply to your two
questions tabled on 17 November because at the time of answering
we had not received it.
We are not, however, simply relying on an assurance
from the Israeli government. Our defence section and other staff
in the Embassy in Tel Aviv have been active in checking that neither
British made equipment nor components have been used during the
recent events in the Occupied Territories.
On the last point in your letter, as I said
in answer to your written question, no geographical restrictions
have been placed on the end-use of equipment licensed for export
to Israel by this Government. The reason for this being that we
assess all applications for export licences on a case by case
basis, against the criteria and in light of the best information
available at the time. We do not issue licences if we judge the
equipment would be used in any way to contravene the criteria.
In the Westminster Hall debate you queried my
answer to a previous parliamentary question about CS gas. I should
like to clarify that we did issue a licence for the temporary
export of CS gas grenades to Israel in 1998, for demonstration
purposes only. It is a condition of all temporary exports that
they are returned to the UK. As my answer stated, we have not
issued licences for the permanent export of CS gas to Israel.
19 December 2000