Socialist Worker

Britain plays vital role in Israel’s crimes

Issue No. 2755

Protests for Palestine on London on Saturday

Protests for Palestine on London on Saturday (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Britain is complicit in Israel’s murder of Palestinians—and that’s not just because of arms sales.

Arms deals with Israel are certainly lucrative. Britain has licensed over £400 million in arms sales to Israel since 2015. And the real figure is certain to be higher

The equipment includes components for assault rifles, drones and warplanes, all used in attacks on Palestinians. But Britain doesn’t care. It doesn’t apply any “end use” conditions on the deals, meaning that Israel is free to use the equipment however it likes.

But the relationship goes deeper.

Britain and Israel’s armies collaborate including in the training of each other’s soldiers.

In 2011, British soldiers were trained in Israel on the use of drones that had been “field tested on Palestinians”.

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British pilots have since received training in a programme partly run by Israeli arms firm Elbit Systems.

In 2019, Israeli military officers were trained in “amphibious warfare” at the Royal Navy’s largest training school HMS Collingwood.

Strategy

The two armies also take part in military exercises together, simulating war. Israeli F-15 fighter jets took part in training exercises out of RAF Waddington airbase, also in 2019, including “simulated ground attacks.”

In other words, Israeli warplanes practised airstrikes out of an RAF base in Britain.

That same summer, the Royal Navy took part in Israel’s largest ever international naval exercise.

The exercise took place in the Mediterranean, close to the shore of the Gaza Strip, where Israel’s navy helps to enforce the siege on Palestinians living there. There are politics behind all this. The cooperation makes sure Britain keeps a cosy relationship with Israel, and a seat at the table with the US.

Britain’s military strategy, published in March, described Israel as a “key strategic partner.” It always has been.

When the British Empire occupied Palestine in the first half of the 20th century it used the Zionist colonisers, who aimed to establish Israel, to help it police Palestinians.

Israel plays a similar role for the US today. The US plies it with billions of dollars of military aid because, in its own words, Israel is “a vital partner in the region.”

Israel helps the US to maintain its power in the Middle East—and its military strength is crucial to that. Britain, hanging on to the US’s coattails joins in.

That’s why US calls for a “ceasefire” can’t be trusted if it means returning to Israel’s dominance over Palestinians.

Victory for the Palestinians means supporting their resistance against Israel, and the US’s system of control in the Middle East.

We can back them by fighting to end Britain’s guilty role in all of that too.


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