Britain has imposed a de facto arms embargo on Israel for the first time in 20 years, official sources have told The Guardian newspaper. The ban applies to military equipment that could be used in Israel's continuing operations in the Palestinian territories.
According to the newspaper, the sources insist Britain has not imposed a formal or complete ban and officials are coy about discussing which sales have been blocked. Decisions, they say, are being taken on a case-by-case basis. However, they add that military equipment that would have been cleared before Israel's offensive against the Palestinians, is now being blocked.
One official pointed to the government's guidelines which state that arms exports would be blocked if they were for "internal repression", affected "adversely regional stability in any significant way", or if there was a clear risk "that the intended recipient would use the proposed export aggressively against another country, or to assert by force a territorial claim".
One source said the shift in Britain's stance had not been made public because of deep divisions of opinion over the best response to developments in the Middle East. These divisions went "a long way up", said the source.
Speaking to reporters in London on Thursday, the German defense minister, Rudolf Scharping, confirmed reports that his country was refusing export licenses for tank parts and other equipment for Israel. Though he insisted Germany was not operating a formal arms embargo, Berlin had delayed shipments at what he called "this crucial time". (Albawaba.com)
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )