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The UK government is coming under increasing pressure to stop exporting arms to Israel. Cross-party MPs and peers are calling for the government to suspend the sale of arms to Israel, as the humanitarian crisis in Gaza escalates.

As ministers face growing pressure, tens of thousands of people are expected to gather in London today – April 13 – to take part in a Stop Arming Israel march. Demonstrators are assembling at Russell Square at 12pm and will walk to Parliament Square, demanding an immediate ceasefire.

The demonstration is part of a National Day of Action that will see rallies, marches, vigils and other events take place up and down the country, urging the government to stop the export of weapons to Israel.

The Day of Action is being organised by a coalition of anti-war and pro-Palestine groups. Stop the War (StW) which has helped organise the local events along with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), described “the British establishment’s disastrous addition to war and its squandering of public resources on militarism.”  

A spokesperson for the group told LFF: “They’ve labelled us extremist, they’ve claimed our protests for peace are hate marches, they’ve even tried to ban us. But these are the desperate actions of a state under huge pressure and we will not let up now.”

The National Day of Action follows months of nationwide protests against the Israeli assaults and Western support for the conflict.

“Millions protesting on the streets week after week around the world, demonstrating outside arms factories and lobbying our political representatives is undoubtedly beginning to pay off,” the spokesperson continued.

Concurrent with anti-war demonstrations on the streets, petitions are circulating online, calling for an end to UK arms exports to oppressive regimes.

Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) is urging people to call on their MP to speak up in Parliament about ending exporting weapons to Israel. The anti-war organisation informs how since the Conservative government was elected in May 2015; the UK has licensed over £472 million worth of arms to Israeli forces. This includes bombs, missiles, helicopters, drones, aircraft, military technology, tanks, ammunition, small arms, and armoured vehicles. One of the most significant UK arms exports to Israel, says CAAT, in the context of the current violations against civilians, is the UK’s contribution to the US F-35 stealth aircraft which Israel is currently using to bombard Gaza.

“Israel is using UK arms exports in a genocide against the Palestinian people. The UK is complicit in these crimes by supplying these weapons for decades, and by offering political and military support for Israel to commit the gravest human rights violations with impunity,” reads CAAT’s statement.

A petition launched by PSC is calling on the Foreign Secretary David Cameron to immediately stop the US-Israel arms trade, and to publish any legal advice it has received regarding Israel breaking international law. Is has been signed by over 54,000 people. PSC will present the petition to Downing Street on April 16.

The Day of Action comes as the UK government is under pressure from cross-party MPs and figures to stop arming Israel, after seven aid workers were recently killed in Gaza.

Peter Ricketts, a government national security advisor during David Cameron’s premiership said that it was time to send a signal and stop exporting arms. David Jones, the Conservative MP for Clwyd West, said the government should “urgently reassess its supply of arms and deliver a stern warning to Israel about its conduct.”

Paul Bristow, the Conservative MP for Peterborough, said: “The thought that British-made arms could be used in action that kills innocent civilians in Gaza turns the stomach. 

The Lib Dems have joined the calls for government action to suspend arms exports to Israel. The party’s leader Ed Davey said the government must take swift action to suspend arms exports to Israel.

“We must redouble our efforts to secure an immediate bilateral ceasefire.”

The Prime Minister has been warned that the UK is breaching international law by continuing to arm Israel. Three former Supreme Court justices are among over 600 lawyers and academics who have signed a 17-page letter to warn the present situation in Gaza is “catastrophic.”

Sadiq Khan became the latest senior Labour figure to call for the government to take action. The London Mayor said Rishi Sunak must halt arms sales, saying: “It’s got to stop.”

Despite the cross-party calls and public support for a weapon sales embargo, and the fact that Canada, the Netherlands, Japan, Spain and Belgium have all announced they would stop shipping weapons to Israel, David Cameron said this week that there would be no suspension of arms exports and that the government’s position on export licences was “unchanged.”

The peace activists’ regional action this weekend will be followed by a national march for Palestine on Saturday April 27, when hundreds of thousands are expected to gather on the streets of London for the twelfth time since October 7, demanding for an immediate ceasefire and for the government to stop arming Israel.

Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead is a contributing editor to Left Foot Forward

The post Peace campaigners hold National Day of Action, as anger towards UK’s arms sales to Israel mounts     appeared first on Left Foot Forward: Leading the UK’s progressive debate.

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