Letter from the FCO on Israel
I am writing to draw your attention to Mr Bradshaw's
11 March reply to a Parliamentary Question from George Galloway
MP, informing the House that UK-supplied equipment licensed for
export under a previous Administration and a different export
control regime is being used by the Israelis in the Occupied Territories.
The Israelis have modified a number of Centurion tanks, exported
to Israel between 1958 and 1970, into armoured personnel carriersthe
Puma and Nachpadonwhich have been deployed to the Occupied
Territories. This contradicts a written assurance that the Israeli
Government gave us on 29 November 2000 that: "no UK originated
equipment nor any UK originated systems/sub-systems/components
are used as part of the Israel Defence Force's activities in the
Territories". This assurance was referred to in our answer
to question 13(c) asked by the committee on 15 January.
The Defence Attaché in Tel Aviv first
observed the Puma APC deployed in the OTs in September 2001, with
further sightings in November 2001 and December 2001 and the Nachpadon
APC was first observed deployed in the OTs on 29 January 2002.
Ministers were not informed of this until 11 March. A mistake
was made in not making the connection sooner between the sighting
of the Puma and Nachpadon APCs in the OTs, the fact that these
APCs incorporate a British tank chassis, supplied up to 44 years
ago, and the Israeli assurances about the use of British-supplied
equipment in the OTs.
Had Ministers known about the use of UK-supplied
equipment in the Occupied Territories when answering the Committee's
questions in February, then reference would have been made to
it. This oversight was wholly unintentional.
We have sought an explanation from the Israeli
Government about the deployment of Puma and Nachpadon APCs in
the Occupied Territories in the light of their assurance of 29
November 2000. We have been promised a response soon. Mr Bradshaw
has undertaken to inform the House of the outcome.
We have received no evidence that equipment
manufactured in the UK and licensed for export by this Government
has been used by Israeli forces in the Occupied Territories since
the start of the second intifada in September 2000. Many UK exports
have been for components for pieces of technology, which can be
embedded in other systems and are therefore not visible. The DTI
and MoD are currently closely scrutinising their records to ensure
that this information is correct. The UK has not licensed for
export main equipment such as tanks, aircraft, warships or artillery
to Israel since May 1997.
21 March 2002