Ex-Supreme justices join top lawyers in urging UK government to reject calls for Israel arms embargo

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By Rhys Duncan on

Response to earlier letter calling for weapons ban

Two former Supreme Court justices have joined over 1,000 lawyers in signing an open letter urging Rishi Sunak to resist calls for an arms embargo on Israel.

The letter comes in response to another open letter published last week that called for a halt on weapons exports, sanctions to be levelled against Israeli individuals and entities, and for the UK to seek a permanent ceasefire in Gaza.

This latest letter, published by UK Lawyers For Israel (UKLIF), states that its signatories are “extremely concerned” by what they describe as the “inaccuracy of the facts and law” in the previous letter. The earlier letter’s interpretation of the January 26 provisional order of the International Court of Justice is “incorrect”, according to UKLIF, both in regards to what the court found, and whether this is, in any event, binding on the UK.

The letter continues by laying out the UK’s obligations under international law. “Demanding an immediate and permanent ceasefire at this time would undermine current negotiations between Israel, the US, Qatar, Egypt and Hamas to secure the release of hostages and a temporary ceasefire,” it states.

“There is no justification for imposing sanctions on individuals or entities without any findings or evidence of serious misconduct by them,” the letter continues. It also argues there is no justification for suspending the sale of weapons to Israel “without evidence of systematic violation by Israel of international law”.

Signatories include former Supreme Court justices Lords Dyson and Collins, former member of the Inner House of the Court of Session (Scotland’s Court of Appeal) Lady Cosgrove, Lord Macdonald, former Director of Public Prosecutions, Lord Wolfson, the former justice minister, and a selection of former Court of Appeal and tribunal judges.

Also on the list are a host of top KCs, including heavyweights Lords Pannick and Grabiner, as well as academics, barristers, and solicitors from across the UK.