Muslim lawmaker urges British premier to 'stop arming war crimes'

Wed, 17 Jan 2024 7:14 GMT
Zarah Sultana accuses government of being ‘deeply complicit’ in Israel's attacks on Gaza Strip in letter to Rishi Sunak.
Muslim lawmaker urges British premier to 'stop arming war crimes'

British lawmaker Zarah Sultana accused the government on Tuesday of being "deeply complicit" in Israel's "genocidal assault" in Gaza, calling on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to “stop arming war crimes."

In a letter to Sunak, Sultana mentioned the genocide case brought by South Africa at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in which she said the world "heard in painstaking detail the horrifying facts of Israel’s genocidal war on Gaza."

Recalling the UK’s arms sales to Israel, she accused the government of being "deeply complicit" in Israel's attacks on the Gaza Strip.

"Not only has it refused to support an immediate cease-fire at the UN Security Council, but it has also licensed arms sales to Israel worth more than £474 million ($598 million) since 2015, including parts for F-35 fighter jets, planes that are currently unleashing hell on Gaza," she said.

Sultana said that is why she introduced the Arms Trade (Inquiry and Suspension) Bill to parliament last month "to stop arming Israel’s war crimes."

"The Bill would suspend arms sales to any country where there is a risk that they will be used in violation of international law -- and there is no doubt this includes Israel," she said.

She added that the bill would also launch an inquiry into British arms sales, assessing the clearly inadequate licensing regime and "ensuring that we never again sell weapons for war crimes."

Reminding that the bill will come before the House of Commons on Friday, she urged Sunak "to entrust your MPs not to block the Bill, allowing it to continue its journey to becoming law."

Her letter came a day after she faced a controversial reply by Sunak, who has been accused of using an "Islamophobic trope" against her.

In response to Sultana's question on whether he will seek to de-escalate the situation in Gaza and call for an immediate cease-fire," Sunak replied: "Perhaps the honorable lady would do well to call on Hamas and the Houthis to de-escalate the situation” rather than the UK government.

Later in the session, another Muslim Labour Party member of parliament, Naz Shah, criticized the prime minister's response, saying it was "a new painful blow."

Israel has launched relentless air and ground attacks on Gaza since a cross-border attack by the Palestinian resistance group Hamas, which Tel Aviv said killed 1,200 people.

At least 24,285 Palestinians have since been killed, mostly women and children, and 61,154 injured, according to Palestinian health authorities.

According to the UN, 85% of the population of Gaza is already internally displaced amid acute shortages of food, clean water and medicine, while 60% of the enclave’s infrastructure is damaged or destroyed.


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