Britain has promised to probe into its sale of military equipment to Israel amid pressure over its contribution to the Gaza aggression.
After months of evading the issue of British support for Israel, Foreign Secretary David Miliband confirmed on Tuesday that London had "almost certainly" supplied Tel Aviv with equipment used in the military offensive into Gaza.
Miliband said he would order a review of all licenses for arms export to Israel.
"I can confirm that we are looking at all extant licences (for sensitive exports to Israel) to see whether any of these need to be reconsidered in light of recent events in Gaza," he said in a written statement.
While Tel Aviv continues to enforce a crippling blockade on Gaza and prevents necessary humanitarian aid and assistance from reaching the 1.5 million people inside the strip, British support for Israel has sparked controversy and has prompted opposition in parliament.
"All future applications will be assessed taking into account the recent conflict," Miliband promised.
Equipment supplied to Israel from the UK includes parts for Israeli reconnaissance satellites -- which are suspected of playing a part in espionage operations by the Israeli army.
"We assess that these might have been used to prepare the operation but would not have played a significant part in the operation itself," the British diplomat explained.
According to Miliband, F16 aircraft that incorporate British components indirectly exported to Israel via the United States were also "widely used" to deliver precision-guided bombs.
The UK has banned the export of F16 components to Israel since 2002.
Apache attack helicopters, Saar-class corvette naval vessels and armored personnel carriers -- all of which either incorporate British components or are upgrades of models supplied by the UK -- have also been employed by Tel Aviv during the war.
While the UK probe is expected to eventually prevent all future arms sales for the use of internal repression and external aggression, the decision has failed to quell the criticism leveled against the British government.
"David Miliband failed to bring pressure to bear on Israel through a suspension of arms sales when it might have had a useful effect," Edward Davey, foreign affairs spokesman for the Liberal Democrats, said in a statement.
"A review now only serves to slam the stable door after the horse has bolted," he insisted, describing the move by the British foreign secretary as a mere confirmation that the British arms control system had broken down.
More than 100 legislators in the UK signed a statement in January that called for an embargo on the supply of military equipment to both sides of the Gaza conflict.
Israel makes nearly 95 percent of its military-related purchases from the United States, which bankrolls many of the contracts using the nearly $3 billion in annual foreign aid it has allocated for Tel Aviv.
The British contribution to the total Israeli arms imports are believed to stand at around 1 percent.
Despite global condemnation of the war on Gaza, Washington has taken no action to curb Israeli aggression against the Palestinians who have become the victims of a 60-year-old Israeli land-grabbing campaign that has forced them out of most of their native land for the sake of a purely Jewish Israel. source
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