Could a new letter change the UK’s stance on the Israel-Hamas war?

On the left, Rishi Sunak scratches his head. In the middle, a man carries an injured child and a plume of smoke erupts over a city. On the right, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu.

Rishi Sunak is facing increasing pressure over the UK’s weapon supply to Israel (Picture: Getty/Rex/Reuters)

A new letter signed by hundreds of legal professionals has put further pressure on the government to change its stance on Israel.

The letter calls for a ceasefire in Gaza and an end to the UK’s supply of arms to Israel.

It’s significant because it’s signed by retired senior judges, who don’t usually get involved with politically sensitive issues.

The letter comes as some of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s own MPs have called on the government to stop UK arms sales to Israel.

So, what is this letter, and why is it important?

What does the letter say?

The 17-page long letter was sent to the Prime Minister on Wednesday evening.

The signatories say that they ‘share deep concern about the catastrophe unfolding in the Gaza strip’.

They warn the government of its obligations under international law.

At least 32,623 Palestinians have been killed since the conflict began (Picture: Jehad Alshrafi/Anadolu via Getty Images)

The letter says that the UK has obligations under the Genocide Convention to take ‘all measures to prevent genocide which were within its power.’

They add that failure to meet those obligations ‘would incur the UK state responsibility for the commission of an international wrong, for which full reparation must be made.’

The letter’s signatories call for the government to take five actions.

Firstly, they ask the government to ‘work actively’ to secure a permanent ceasefire in Gaza.

The government has so far called for a ‘sustainable ceasefire’ and temporary ‘humanitarian pauses’.

According to a YouGov poll, 66% of Brits think that Israel should stop and call a ceasefire.

A man pushes a bycicle along as he walks amid building rubble in the devastated area around Gaza’s Al-Shifa hospital (Picture: AFP via Getty Images)

In their second demand, the letter’s signatories ask the government to take all measures to deliver aid to Palestinians in Gaza, including restoring funding to UNRWA.

UNRWA stands for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees.

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The agency delivers aid to Palestinians who have fled the conflict.

UNRWA withdrew its staff from Gaza after Israel alleged that 12 of its staff members were involved in the October 7 attacks.

The UK stopped funding UNRWA following the allegations. In the 2023/24 financial year, the UK contributed £35 million towards the agency.

Baroness Hale is one of the most important signatories of the letter (Picture: Roger Askew/The Oxford Union/REX/Shutterstock)

The letter’s third demand asks the government to impose sanctions on individuals and organisations who have made statements inciting genocide against Palestinians. 

In their fourth ask, the signatories call on the government to suspend the provision of weapons to Israel.

They say that the UK’s sale of weapons to Israel ‘fall significantly short of your government’s obligations under international law.’

Finally, the letter calls for the government to suspend …read more

Source:: Metro


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