Cat Smith: Labour shadow minister says Britain should stop selling arms to Israel

Jeremy Corbyn has previously said he supports actions on arms sales

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Indy Politics

The UK should refuse to trade weapons with Israel until it ends the occupation of Palestinian land, a Labour shadow minister has said.

Cat Smith, who worked for Jeremy Corbyn before she was elected in May, said Britain needed to use its economic and diplomatic clout to push for an end to the Middle East conflict.

“If we wish to be a force for the consistent application of human rights across the world we can’t just observe. We must use our considerably diplomatic and economic weight to bring about change,” she told an event organised by the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign at Labour’s party conference.

“The situation where we continue to supply Israel with arms and other security equipment as well as buy ‘battle-tested weapons’ system as thought there was no occupation and no systematic abuse of human rights cannot be tolerated.

“There is now a compelling case for Britain to suspend this trade until Israel takes serious strides to ending the occupation and respecting the fundamental rights of those they rule over.”

Israel has previously been involved in the UK arms fair DESI, one of the biggest sales events of its kind.

Ms Smith, who is shadow minister for women and equalities, said she has her frontbench role as stretching beyond Britain’s national borders and thus as applicable to the situation in Palestine.

“Whilst clearly this role focuses clearly on the domestic we should also be aware that our equality agenda crosses national boundaries as well,” she said.

The shadow minister described the situation in in the Middle East as “day in day out a punishment of the entire Palestinian population.”

She said she was particularly worried by the impact on children in the region, especially the destruction of UK-aid funded schools by Israeli forces during a recent conflict.

During a leadership hustings hosted by the Jewish Chronicle newspaper Mr Corbyn said he did not support a generalised boycott of Israel but that he supported an arms embargo on the country and a boycott of products from the occupied territories.

Last year MPs voted by by 274 to 12 across all parties urge the Government to “recognise the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel” as part of a “contribution to securing a negotiated two-state solution”.