‘The UK must stand firm with Israel’

Rishi Sunak (left) shakes hands with Benjamin Netanyahu (right)
'The West must let Israel overcome their enemy,' says one Telegraph reader - Simon Walker / No 10 Downing Street/No 10 Downing Street

On Thursday, more than 600 lawyers signed a letter to Rishi Sunak to stop the UK selling arms to Israel. A former head of MI6 added weight to the argument saying the war in Gaza is now bordering on reckless.

The Government is now facing demands to publish any legal advice it’s been given after Israel has been accused by three former supreme court judges of breaching international law. 

This comes after an airstrike in Gaza killed seven aid workers on April 1, including three British nationals.

In an exclusive Telegraph poll, 58 per cent of over 20,000 readers voted that the UK should not suspend arms exports to Israel.

‘Gaza was made a war zone by Hamas’

Many readers argue that Hamas is to blame. They argue that Hamas started the war with Israel and the UK Government must enable Israel to overcome its enemy.

Telegraph reader Gerald Martin highlights how Hamas are “still holding Israelis hostage and continue to bomb Israel”.

He added: “In a similar position, I’d hope the UK Government would use a massive show of force to ensure their safe return.”

Meanwhile, reader Nigel Griffiths states: “Hamas - operating and based in Gaza - started a war on Israel. Therefore, the West must let Israel overcome their enemy.

“Interfering in the form of suspending arms trade is basically anti-Semitism being pushed by political interests and the elite Left.

“The UK must stand firm with Israel. There is always collateral damage in war zones. And Gaza was made a war zone by Hamas.”

‘Israel represents no threat to the UK’

Other readers agree with David Frost that the Government should not suspend arms exports “because doing this is not just in Israel’s interests – but also in ours”.

One Telegraph reader suggests that “the response should be to stop all weapons exports to Israel as soon as Hamas is eradicated, all hostages are released and we’re one hundred per cent assured that Israel has the technology to develop - quickly - its own similar weapons defence systems.

“If those conditions are met, then we can stop exporting weapons to Israel. However, if conditions don’t change, we should continue to support our democratic allies around the world.

Another reader, Adam Smith, added to the argument saying that “despite the shocking collateral, Israel is no more in breach of international laws governing conflict zones than Britain or the US were in Iraq. The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) try to minimise civilian suffering, despite appearances.

He continues: “Therefore, to deny them support and arms would be a breach of faith by us. And it will also open the door to Iran dominating the Middle East and to a renewed Jewish diaspora.”

Building on these ideas, a reader with the screen name Edmund Blackadder raised his point that “the UK supplies very little to Israel. Israel, on the other hand, supplies the UK with its drone program, vital components for the UK’s fighter jets and valuable intelligence, amongst other things.

“Israel represents no threat to the UK, only help.”

‘The arms business should not be sacrificed’

Telegraph readers also share their views on what actions the Government, and Prime Minister, should take.

Arthur Wilson expresses the belief that “Rishi Sunak will not make the right call because he is weak and spineless. He will do anything he thinks will attract him even one vote so is now leaning towards doing progressively more ridiculous things.

“The nationality of the ex-military guards killed in an accident is irrelevant. We are either in the arms business or we aren’t. It is one of our few remaining industries and I do not want it sacrificed just to prolong the death of the Conservative Party.”

Weighing in on the argument, Robert Morgan suggests that “we should increase the arms supplied to Israel. They are our strongest ally in the region, and ridding the world of an Islamist terrorist group as quickly as possible must be a priority - not just for Israel and our allies but all right-minded people throughout the world.”

Reader Bob Davis said: “Sell Israel whatever it wants. Change the law to ban British citizens from travelling to active war zones. The prospect of the UK changing its support stance for Israel just because some aid workers got killed is obscene.”

‘The very minimum response must be to suspend UK arms sales’

On the other side of the argument, some 42 per cent of readers who voted support the decision to suspend sales of arms to Israel.

Reader Wilfred McKie said: “Israel was reckless from the outset and chose not to sustain some moral high ground and moral purpose. Israel is now paying the price for its arrogance.”

Meanwhile, Graham Hepburn believes the UK “should immediately cease arms sales to Israel and impose sanctions on the company whose weapons the Israelis used to in the attack that killed the seven aid workers”.

Adding to the debate, Benny Dourme believes that the killing of three British aid workers should make the Government “pause and reconsider” its relationships with Israel, as “despite the evidence of systemic failure in IDF’s process of identification, they continue airstrikes overnight”.

In a concluding statement, Telegraph reader Via Porrione says “the Israelis have just killed three innocent British ex-servicemen in a reckless or deliberate attack. The very minimum response must be to suspend UK arms sales”.

They added: “The UK should not be even remotely complicit in war crimes.”