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Palestine solidarity activists have this morning dropped a banner from Westminster bridge calling on Labour leader Keir Starmer to say he’ll end arms sales to Israel if he becomes Prime Minister. Yesterday a letter was published from more than 100 celebrities, including Riz Ahmed, Paloma Faith and Steve Coogan, calling on Keir Starmer to commit to ending arms sales to Israel.

It comes in the midst of Labour’s General Election campaign, during which the party has been under pressure from voters to take a tougher stance on Israel. With more than 36,000 killed in Gaza, Keir Starmer has been criticised by some Labour voters across the country for initially failing to call for a ceasefire.

The ruling of the International Court of Justice that Israel is plausibly committing a genocide in Gaza places on states a duty not to be complicit in this crime. The UK’s own arms export guidelines state it “will not grant a licence if it determines there is a clear risk that the items might be used to commit or facilitate a serious violation of international humanitarian law.” In April more than 1000 lawyers, academics and retired judges, including the former President of the Supreme Court Baroness Hale, signed an open letter saying that the continued supply of arms to Israel puts the UK in breach of international law. Canada, the Netherlands, Japan, Spain and Belgium have all announced they would stop shipping weapons to Israel.

Despite all the evidence of Israel’s war crimes, the weight of legal opinion and the fact that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu faces arrest warrants from the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity, Keir Starmer, a former human rights lawyer has refused to advocate for an end to arms sales to Israel.

Ben Jamal, Director of Palestine Solidarity Campaign, says:

“Keir Starmer needs to make clear if he takes international law seriously. If he does, then the course of action is clear – a Labour government would end arms sales to Israel. The evidence of Israel’s crimes against humanity in Gaza is overwhelming. No ethical or principled government would continue to supply arms to a genocidal state. If Keir Starmer cannot commit to a Labour Government ending the sale of weapons to Israel, then he is indicating a willingness to continue the UK’s complicity in the genocide taking place.”