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UK’s Majority of voters back banning arms sales to Israel, poll finds

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A vast majority of British people support prohibiting arms sales to Israel, a YouGov survey indicates.

The report also indicates that the majority of people think the Israeli government is breaching human rights in Gaza. This is one of the first current evaluations of whether Israel is losing popular support in important ally states.

Israel, which has long depended heavily on support from the UK, will be alarmed by the decline in public support in the UK.

Before seven charity workers were killed in an Israeli airstrike—for which Israel has apologised but not yet offered an explanation—the poll was commissioned by Action for Humanity.

The poll shows that among all voters in the UK a majority of 56% to 17% are in favour of a ban on the export of arms and spare parts. By a majority of 59% to 12% voters say Israel is violating human rights in Gaza.

There has been very little British polling of public opinion on Israel’s conduct in Gaza, unlike in the US. The findings suggest that strenuous Israeli efforts at public diplomacy have failed to convince the British public.

The poll found strong support for an arms export ban among voters intending to vote Labour at the next election. An overwhelming 71% to 9% of those intending to vote Labour back an arms export ban, while Lib Dem voters support a ban by 70% to 14% and Conservative voters by 38% to 36%. Asked if Israel is violating human rights, Tory voters by two to one say Israel is doing so.

Western public opinion matters in the Gaza conflict in a way that it sometimes does not in other wars. The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has repeatedly said the length of the country’s effort to destroy Hamas as a fighting force is dependent on the continuance of western support.

Many senior Israeli politicians discuss the gradual erosion of international support, with some openly fearing Israel is sliding into a pariah status that will set it back in the long term.

Despite tens of thousands of Palestinians being killed, it appears that it is the deaths of British, Polish, Canadian and Australian aid workers that have led to a dam bursting for western powers.

Labour has so far not called for an arms export ban, confining itself to calling for the UK Foreign Office to release the legal advice it has received on whether Israel is in breach of international humanitarian law. The poll suggests Labour could make a call for an arms export ban without alienating its own supporters.

The YouGov poll had a 2,000-plus sample size. Among 2019 Tory voters the majority in favour of an exports ban is substantially larger than among voters intending to vote Conservative at the next election, suggesting voters swinging away from the Tories in particular are opposed to Israel’s actions.

The Labour former Middle East minister Peter Hain said: “The Conservative government’s inaction has emboldened Israel to continue flouting its obligations under international law to protect Palestinian civilians, who are being denied elementary humanitarian protection.

“Labour should be demanding the government stops all exports of arms and parts to Israel. This is about standing up for human rights, the international rules-based system, and ensuring accountability in a setting where innocent lives are at stake.”

Othman Moqbel, the chief executive of Action for Humanity said: “Aid agencies, including Action for Humanity, are risking their lives to deliver humanitarian assistance, with aid convoys and service locations facing direct targeting, despite being marked as ‘deconflicted’.

“The UK must finally act to protect those delivering life-saving aid and hold violators of international law to account.”

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Dulal Ahmed Chowdhury

Dulal Ahmed Chowdhury is the Editor of The Daily Dazzling Dawn. Previously, he has been serving in important positions in all the famous national dailies of the Bangladesh since the nineties. He has played a commendable role in journalism by participating in various events at the national and international levels. United Nations Conference, World Climate Conference, SAARC Summit are notable among them.

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