High Court throws out case over arms exports to genocidal Israel

  • Post last modified:February 23, 2024
  • Reading time:4 mins read

The High Court has made the ‘outrageous’ decision to throw out a case that was trying to stop the UK exporting weapons to Israel – despite the International Court of Justice investigating a “plausible” risk of genocide in Gaza.

The High Court is a genocide-enabling ass

On Monday 19 February, the High Court ruled that it wouldn’t allow the legal case against the UK government over arms sales to Israel to proceed.

The Global Legal Action Network (GLAN) and Palestinian human rights organisation Al-Haq are brought the case in December 2023 against the UK government. It challenges the government’s refusal to suspend arms sales to Israel despite overwhelming evidence of war crimes amounting to a genocide against Palestinian people.

However, as the Guardian reported:

the court said that the criteria requiring the UK Department for Business and Trade to consider whether there is a risk the items might be used in a violation of international law must be “clear” and has to be “of a serious violation”.

The court refusal seen by the Guardian said there was a “high hurdle” to be overcome to establish the government’s conclusion was “irrational”, and added: “There is no realistic prospect of that hurdle being surmounted here.”

GLAN and Al-Haq are mounting a challenge to the decision.

UK: supplying Israel the weapons to breach international law

The government’s own licensing criteria states that arms sales should be halted when there is a “clear risk” that weapons could be used in violations of International Humanitarian Law (IHL). However, the court has relied on a defence submission from the government to dismiss this case.

This is despite the submission revealing that, at best, foreign secretary David Cameron misled the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, and that the Foreign Office assessment unit had “serious concerns” over breaches of IHL. It also revealed that the government accepted that Israel has a different interpretation of IHL.

Since 2015, the UK has licensed £487m worth of weapons and military equipment to Israel. But this figure is just scratching the surface as it doesn’t include open licences whereby companies can export an unlimited amount of specified military equipment without further reporting requirements.

One such open licence is for components for the F35 combat aircraft that are currently bombarding Gaza. 15% of every F35 is made by UK industry and campaign group Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) estimates that the contract is worth at least £336m since 2016.

‘Outrageous’ and a ‘farce’

CAAT’s media coordinator Emily Apple stated:

This is an outrageous decision. Our government and the UK arms industry is complicit in a genocide. Yet the court has decided that it won’t even hear the case.

The defence submission was a farce. It showed the Foreign Office doing everything it could to justify putting the profits of arms companies before the lives of Palestinian people.

Our government may not have a conscience. But ordinary people across the country do. Everyday people are taking action to try to prevent our arms industry profiting from genocide. If our government refuses to act, then it is down to all of us to stop this murderous trade.

Featured image via the Royal Courts of Justice

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