Britain lifts arms embargo against Israel

BRITAIN has announced it is lifting its arms embargo against Israel, imposed after its invasion of Lebanon in 1982, in an apparent bid to court Jewish voters before the European elections.

The reason given by Douglas Hurd, the Foreign Secretary, in a written answer to parliament, was that is was to reward Israel for pressing forward with the search for peace. 'I have decided that,' he said, 'in light of favourable developments in the Middle East peace process, in particular the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and Jericho, the United Kingdom's arms embargo against Israel should be lifted.'

Britain, along with its European partners, imposed its arms embargo on Israel in 1982 in protest at its invasion of Lebanon. Israeli forces still occupy an enclave in south Lebanon, so Britain had to find another pretext to relax the embargo. One was that the other European states had already relaxed the restrictions, and the French signed a military co-operation agreement during the visit of the defence minister earlier this year. Britain's refusal even to permit the export of gas masks to Israel when Iraqi Scud missiles were landing on Tel Aviv during the Gulf war was seen in Israel as an especially vile demonstration of British hypocrisy.

However, the Conservative Friends of Israel say that a major motive for the change of policy was government fears of losing Jewish votes before the European elections. The Conservatives had already done badly in the local elections in boroughs with high numbers of Jewish voters like Barnet and Harrow. Then last week the Jewish Chronicle published a letter which incensed the Jewish community. A Jewish organisation campaigning for a united Jerusalem - the policy of almost all Israeli political parties - had written on 9 May to John Major asking for his support. His private office replied that as Britain did not recognise Israeli sovereignty over any part of Jerusalem, he could not give his support.

The reply sparked a row. It may in fact have merely restated British policy, that Britain still recognised the status of Jerusalem as determined in the 1947 UN partition plan. But Britain has long recognised de facto Israeli sovereignty over west Jerusalem. The blunt and dismissive tone of the letter angered the Jewish lobby. Several days later a Foreign Office minister, David Heathcoat-Amory attended a meeting of Likud activists in Golders Green and apologised for its peremptory tone.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operative

£7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This high quality thread manufacturer is recr...

Langley James : IT Support, Bradford £16k - £22k

£16000 - £22000 per annum + Benefits: Langley James : IT Support, Bradford £16...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Business Development Manager / Invoice Finance £75k OTE

£40000 - £50000 per annum + £75,000 OTE Car+Mobile : h2 Recruit Ltd: Business ...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Business Development Manager-Managed Services-£80,000 OTE

£45000 - £80000 per annum + £80,000 OTE + Car,benefits: h2 Recruit Ltd: Busine...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital