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Britain not to stop arms exports to Israel over operation in Rafah - Cameron

Britain not to stop arms exports to Israel over operation in Rafah - Cameron Foreign Secretary of the UK, David Cameron (photo: Getty Images)

Britain will not repeat the White House's promise to halt the export of certain types of arms to Israel if the IDF continues its full-scale invasion of Rafah, states UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron.

Speaking in London on Thursday, he said Britain would not support some major operation in Rafah unless there was a very clear plan for how to protect people and save lives.

"We have not seen that plan, so in these circumstances we would not support a major operation in Rafah," Cameron said.

At the same time, he said there was a very fundamental difference between arms supplies from the US and the UK, as the British government issues individual licenses to companies wanting to export weapons abroad.

"The US is a massive state supplier for weapons to Israel. We do not have a UK government supply of weapons to Israel. We have a number of licenses, and I think our defense exports to Israel are responsible for significantly less than one percent of their total. That is a big difference," Cameron said.

The minister also said he would very carefully adhere to the strict arms export procedure in the UK.

Asked if US President Biden was mistaken when he set such strict conditions for Israel, Britain's top diplomat replied that Israel is deeply involved in strategic issues.

"They are involved deeply in strategic and tactical conversations that the Israelis are having about how they prosecute this conflict. We have influence, we have agency, we have very frank conversations with the Israelis, but we’re not in that same position," Cameron said.

The head of the British Foreign Office faced pressure from some members of parliament, including from his party, to suspend arms exports to Israel.

Earlier, Cameron insisted that Britain and its allies were making some progress in holding Israel to its commitments to increase aid to the Gaza Strip, including being very close to creating and launching a temporary haven. He also said Hamas must release more than 100 Israeli hostages it has been holding since the attack on Israel on October 7.

Europe's defense should be strengthened

During his first major speech since returning to government in November at the National Cyber Security Centre, Cameron also criticized European allies who do not want to invest (in defense) even when there is a war on our continent, and called on NATO allies to set a new benchmark for defense spending at 2.5% of GDP ahead of the summit marking NATO's 75th anniversary, which will take place on July 9-11.

The UK has pledged to reach 2.5% by 2030. The opposition Labour Party has refused to copy the promise, saying the government has not explained how it will be funded.

Cameron said that security will undoubtedly be on the ballot paper in the upcoming general election in the UK, expected this autumn.

"From Talinn to Warsaw, from Prague to Bucharest, a chill has once more descended across the European continent, with those nations closest to Russia seeing what is happening in Ukraine and wondering if they will be next. This is a world more dangerous, more volatile, more confrontational than most of us have ever known. We need to face up to that fact and act accordingly — not in a year or two, not in a few months, but now," said the head of the British Foreign Office.

US suspends the transfer of weapons to Israel

The Israeli army is prepared to launch a military operation in the city of Rafah in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, where Hamas militants are still hiding. The city is home to about 1.7 million people, many of whom are refugees who fled from shelling in other parts of the Gaza Strip.

Israeli forces recently seized the Palestinian side of the Rafah crossing.

Due to the possible advance in the city, the US recently suspended the delivery of a batch of bombs to Israel, which the IDF could use in urban areas and cause civilian casualties.

President Biden has also threatened to suspend some arms shipments to Israel if its army launches an operation in Rafah.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stated that the country is prepared to fight even without US support.