Thank you for contacting me about military exports to Israel and Saudi Arabia.
I want to reassure you that in accordance with the Court of Appeal's judgement in June 2019, the Secretary of State for International Trade has now retaken licensing decisions regarding military exports to Saudi Arabia for possible use in the conflict in Yemen on the correct legal basis.
Export licences are not granted when there is a clear risk that the equipment might be used in the commission of a serious violation of International Humanitarian Law. The protection of civilians is the cornerstone of International Humanitarian Law.
I have been assured that each application is carefully assessed against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria and that a licence will not be granted if to do so would be a breach of the criteria. A range of sources are used when making assessments including NGOs, international organisations and our diplomatic posts overseas. Licences may also be reviewed, suspended and revoked where necessary.
Regarding Yemen, I am deeply concerned by the ongoing conflict and humanitarian crisis. I therefore oppose the cutting of UK overseas development aid to Yemen. The drastic cut in aid will cost lives. I was pleased to make my feelings known in the House of Commons in an urgent question debate on this issue last week which you can read via the link below:
I remain concerned about security in Israel and our friendship does not prohibit our criticism of some Israeli policies, nor our recognition of Israel as a thriving democracy. The UK supports Israel’s right to defend itself and will work alongside anyone in the Middle East who seeks to establish better stability and security for their people.
The UK’s support for Israel’s right to self-defence does not extend to support for the annexation plans for part of the West Bank. I strongly welcome the shelving of these annexation plans as part of the normalisation of relations between Israel and the UAE.