PRESSURE is mounting on the UK Government to halt arms sales to Israel after the publication of an open letter signed by more than 600 lawyers, including three former Supreme Court justices, warning that the British Government risks breaching international law "including potential violations of the Genocide Convention" by continuing to allow the export of weapons to Israel.

Signatories of the legal letter said the worsening situation in Gaza and the International Court of Justice's (ICJ) conclusion that there is a "plausible risk of genocide" obliges the UK to suspend arms sales to Israel.

The letter notes that the UK's obligations under international law requires the Tory government to take the following five steps:

  • 1: to work actively and effectively to secure a permanent ceasefire in Gaza
  • 2: to take all available measures to ensure safe access to and delivery of the essentials of existence and medical assistance to Palestinians in Gaza, including confirmation that UK funding to UNRWA will continue with immediate effect
  • 3: to impose sanctions upon individuals and entities who have made statements inciting genocide against Palestinians
  • 4: to suspend the provision of weapons and weapons systems to the Government of Israel
  • 5: to suspend the 2030 Road Map for UK-Israel bilateral relations and negotiations towards an enhanced trade agreement and to initiate a review into the suspension of the UK's bilateral trade agreement with Israel and consider the imposition of sanctions

Earlier this week Downing Street refused to say whether it believed Israel was operating within international humanitarian law, adding it would not comment on legal advice but insisting ministers acted in accordance with any legal advice the government received.

Both the SNP and the LibDems have called for arms exports to be suspended, as have Conservative MPs Flick Drummond and David Jones following a similar plea from Peter Ricketts, the former national security adviser to now-Foreign Secretary David Cameron.

Meanwhile Keir Starmer and the Labour party are trying to avoid being drawn into the issue, an abnegation of moral responsibility that is all too typical of Starmer's Labour party, desperate as it is to avoid coming under criticism from the right-wing press.

The National: Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer during the Labour Party local elections campaign launch at the Black Country & Marches Institute of Technology in Dudley

Earlier this week in an interview with Sky News, Starmer's right-hand man Pat McFadden, the vice-chair of Labour Friends of Israel and a prominent figure on the right of the Labour party, insisted that his party had no plans to cease arms sales to Israel

However, McFadden refused to say that Israel is currently breaching international law despite numerous organisations and individuals, including top lawyers and judges, asserting that Israel is indeed doing so.

All McFadden would say when asked whether he believed Israel was following international law was: "Well if there's proper legal evidence that they aren't, the Government should come out and say so. We've said this all the way through."

READ MORE: Lesley Riddoch: SNP must keep up pressure on UK over Israeli arms sales

McFadden was not asked whether the Conservative government believes Israel is breaking international law, he was asked whether he believes it. His haste to deflect the question is telling.

Meanwhile, has anyone seen Anas Sarwar? Labour's branch office in Scotland has refused to set out its own stance on whether it supports continuing arms sales to Israel.

Following McFadden's comments earlier this week, Labour's shadow foreign secretary David Lammy has also deflected the issue, saying that if UK Government lawyers have found Israel has breached international law then arms sales must be stopped. The Conservative government has refused to reveal what legal advice it has received.

However, when this newspaper asked for the stance of the Labour party in Scotland on the matter, the party simply directed it to Lammy's comments and said nothing further.

Making such decisions is way above the pay grade of Starmer's Scottish lackeys. Starmer for his part will only follow the Conservative lead on the issue. If that doesn't convince you of Starmer's sell out of the Labour party to the right-wing and its conversion to a slightly less maniac form of Toryism, probably nothing will.

There's moral cowardice, and there's Scottish Labour moral cowardice. That is all that Scotland can expect from the Labour party following the next General Election.

But then the normally gobby Anas Sarwar has another very good reason for keeping his head down this week. He's terrified that someone might ask him about the Scottish Hate Crime Act which he and his party voted for.

He needn't worry, that someone will not be BBC Scotland, which has done nothing to counter the hysteria and misinformation which has accompanied the introduction of the new law, instead seeing it as yet another opportunity to indulge in its favourite pearl-clutching British nationalist anti-independence pastime, bashing the SNP.

This piece is an extract from today’s REAL Scottish Politics newsletter, which is emailed out at 7pm every weekday with a round-up of the day's top stories and exclusive analysis from the Wee Ginger Dug.

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