Haaretz reports today that Britain has imposed a partial arms embargo on Israel. British MP’s and other human rights groups justify the embargo as punishment for “Operation Cast Lead” in the Gaza Strip against Hamas last December. This comes as a surprise, given the defensive nature of the operation. Indeed, former Prime Minister Tony Blair advocated the operation as a means to “have a situation where the rockets stop coming out of Gaza.”
Britain has decided to revoke 5 out of the 182 export licenses to Israel, including the Saar 4.5 gunboat, used during Operation Cast Lead. The Foreign Office has said it, “would not sell weapons that would be used for internal repression or external aggression.”
Robert Ivker notes in the Winter 2007 issue of inFocus that Britain has proposed but failed to impose anti-Israel boycotts in the past. While the impact of the UK boycott remains to be seen, it may have a domino effect on the rest of Europe. For now, only Belgium appears to have followed Britain’s lead with an embargo of its own.