HL Deb 27 March 2002 vol 633 cc47-8WA
Lord Hylton

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they have evidence from non-governmental organisations or others that equipment, weapons and ammunition supplied by the United Kingdom to Israel have been used for attacks on civilians, premises belonging to the Palestinian Authority and institutions funded by the European Union or the United Nations within the Occupied Territories. [HL3270]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean

We have received no evidence that equipment manufactured in the UK and licensed for export by this Government has been used by Israeli forces in the Occupied Territories during the recent and continuing violence. Most UK exports have been components for pieces of technology, which can be embedded in other systems and are therefore not visible. The UK has not licensed for export main equipment such as tanks, aircraft, warships or artillery to Israel since May 1997.

However, on 11 March, my honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs the Member for Exeter informed the House of Commons that new information had come to light that UK-supplied equipment licensed for export under a previous administration, and a different export control regime, is being used by the Israelis in the Occupied Territories. This relates to a number of Centurion tanks, exported to Israel between 1958 and 1970, which the Israelis have modified into armoured personnel carriers.

This contradicts a written assurance that the Israel Government gave us on 29 November 2000 that "no UK originated equipment nor any UK originated systems/sub-systems/components are used as part of the Israel Defence Force's activities in the Territories". We have urgently sought an explanation from the Israeli Government. We shall inform both Houses of the outcome.

We consider all export licence applications to Israel on a case by case basis against the consolidated EU and national arms export licensing criteria, taking careful account on a case by case basis of the nature of the equipment and the proposed end-use and end-user.