Friday 20 Jul 2018 | 11:00 | SYDNEY
Friday 20 Jul 2018 | 11:00 | SYDNEY

Where Israel gets its weapons


Sam Roggeveen


9 January 2009 15:23

Just in case you are watching news reports of civilian casualties in Gaza and are in a mood to blame America for its steadfast support for Israel, consider this:

European Union member states authorised the export of ‚ā¨200 million in arms exports to Israel in 2007, the latest figures from Brussels disclose, with France far and away the Jewish state's biggest European weapons supplier.

This was the (unintentionally) funniest part of the story:

In response to calls from opposition politicians that the UK government halt its arms exports to Israel and push all other EU member states to do the same, a British foreign office spokesperson said: "We do not approve any defence related exports if we judge that there is a risk that they will be used for external aggression or internal repression."

That's a laughable standard, since the UK Government can at any time redefine 'aggression' or 'repression'. And given the service life of a rifle or an anti-tank missile might be twenty years or more, how can the UK Government know what the weapons will be used for in that time?

It seems like a moral figleaf for a situation where the UK Government, or for that matter any arms supplier, has very little control and really not that much responsibility. Israel has a perfect right to defend itself and it is entirely legitimate for European governments to sell them weapons for that purpose. If Israel commits crimes of aggression or repression using those weapons, responsibility surely falls overwhelmingly on Israel.