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Legal group insists Sunak takes steps on Gaza
Rishi Sunak (Pic: Shutterstock)

04 Apr 2024 / britain Print

Legal group insists on Sunak action over Gaza

A group of legal experts – including former members of the judiciary – have written to British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak urging him to halt the supply of weapons and weapons systems to Israel.

The letter also calls on Sunak to work “actively and effectively” to secure a permanent ceasefire in Gaza, and to suspend talks with Israel on an enhanced trade deal.

The letter says that the lawyers, legal academics, and former members of the judiciary share “deep concern” about what they describe as “the catastrophe unfolding in the Gaza Strip”.

‘Significant developments’

A previous letter, sent in October, had referred to Britain’s obligations to “avert or avoid complicity” in breaches of international law.

The new letter refers to “significant developments” since then – including a provisional order made by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in January, after it found that there was a plausible risk of genocide in Gaza.

The letter says that the British Government’s obligations under international law require it to take five actions:

  • Work “actively and effectively” to secure a permanent ceasefire in Gaza,
  • Take all available measures to ensure safe access to and delivery of aid to Palestinians in Gaza,
  • Impose sanctions upon “individuals and entities who have made statements inciting genocide against Palestinians”,
  • Suspend the provision of weapons and weapons systems to Israel, and
  • Suspend negotiations on an enhanced trade agreement with Israel and initiate a review into the suspension of Britain’s bilateral trade agreement with the country.


Former Supreme Court judge Lord Sumption (small picture), one of the signatories, told BBC radio that the provisional ruling from the ICJ, the UN’s highest court, should have an impact on British policy, even though its final ruling had yet to be issued.

"It seems to me that if you have a duty, as we do, to prevent genocide – and there is a plausible case that is what is happening – you should do what you can to obstruct it," he said.

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