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UK should have been ‘ahead of the US’ in suspending arms sales to Israel, ex-national security adviser says

A former UK national security adviser has criticised Rishi Sunak for failing to suspend arms sales to Israel after the USpaused a shipment of bombs overnight.

Lord Ricketts said it was a pity Britain had not taken a stand and should have been “ahead of the US” on the decision.

The prime minister is facing mounting pressure, including from within his own party, to immediately suspend arms to Israel amid growing opposition to the number of civilians killed in its war on Hamas.

The Americans halted the shipment over concerns about Israel’s plans to launch a full-scale assault on the southern Gaza city of Rafah.

More than 1 million civilians are sheltering in Rafah after they were forced to leave other parts of Gaza.

A senior official in the Biden administration, a huge contributor of military aid to Israel, said a final decision had not yet been taken on whether the shipment of 1,800 2,000-pound bombs and 1,700 500-pound bombs would go ahead as planned.

In the wake of the US decision Lord Ricketts said the government “should suspend UK arms sales.”

He added that it was “a pity the government could not have taken a stand on this and got out ahead of the US.”

His call was echoed by former cabinet minister and Tory MP David Jones, who told The Independent: “We should give similar consideration to a pause. Anyone viewing the distressing scenes in Gaza will want to see an end to the fighting. Hamas is in reality beaten. Now is the time for diplomacy to bring this dreadful conflict to an end.”

On Tuesday shadow foreign secretary David Lammy inched Labour closer to calling for an outright ban on arms sales to Israel.

With his party under pressure from its own MPs and activists to take a harder line against Israel, Mr Lammy used an urgent question in the Commons to ratchet up Labour’s position.

It follows concerns in the party leadership that Muslims and others are not voting Labour because of its position on the conflict.

A Biden official speaking on condition of anonymity, said that as Israeli leaders seemed to approach a decision on a Rafah incursion, “we began to carefully review proposed transfers of particular weapons to Israel that might be used in Rafah”.

“As a result of that review, we have paused one shipment of weapons last week. It consists of 1,800 2,000-lb bombs and 1,700 500-lb bombs,” the official said.

“We are especially focused on the end-use of the 2,000-lb bombs and the impact they could have in dense urban settings as we have seen in other parts of Gaza. We have not made a final determination on how to proceed with this shipment.”

The shipments are thought to have been delayed for at least two weeks.

Xural.com

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