UK arms sales to Israel must end following ‘clear breaches’ of law – Sarwar

Anas Sarwar has said the UK supply of arms to Israel should end following “clear breaches” of international humanitarian law.

In a speech to Scotland’s biggest trade union body on Monday, the Scottish Labour leader took aim at the actions of Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, arguing the continued retaliation on Gaza “undermined the cause of peace”.

Mr Sarwar has previously called for a ceasefire but has now gone further to claim Israel had committed breaches of international law by “attacking aid workers, innocent civilians and basic infrastructure”.

Speaking at the STUC congress in Dundee, he said: “I believe there are clear breaches of international humanitarian law.

“And it is very clear that if there is a legal question on arms from the UK going to Israel being involved in breaches of international humanitarian law, then there should not be the sale of those arms to Israel.

“That’s why I believe we must look at that.”

Mr Sarwar said he hoped “we can play our full part in leveraging all the support we can from the international community to make sure we are finally delivering justice for the people of Israel and Palestine”.

Later in his speech, Mr Sarwar turned his attention to the upcoming general election where he attacked both the SNP and the Conservatives over their efforts in government.

He said the UK Government was “looking after their own skin skin rather than focusing on the huge challenges facing our country”.

Scottish Trades Union Congress 2024
Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar (Andrew Milligan/PA)

“After 14 years of cruelty and chaos – no wonder they are running scared from the public.

“As Rishi Sunak and his dwindling crew of Tory ministers have watched as the polls widen and widen, they have resorted to stoking the politics of division in a desperate attempt to prevent electoral wipeout.”

And taking aim at the SNP, Mr Sarwar accused ministers of putting the tax burden on working people, such as nurses, instead of energy giants like Shell and BP.

He said: “I promise you this – the Scottish Labour Party I lead will never balance the books on the backs of working people.

“The Scottish Labour Party I lead will never make workers pay the price of government failure.

“And the Scottish Labour Party I lead will never put corporate interests ahead of those of working people.

“Because the Scottish Labour Party I lead will always be on your side – the side of working people.”

The SNP’s Kevin Stewart MSP commented: “Anas Sarwar has some nerve to talk about supporting workers, when the Labour Party’s plans for a windfall tax puts up to 100,000 jobs in the North East at risk – throwing our oil and gas workers on the scrapheap.

“Only the SNP can deliver for the North East, and the whole of Scotland, with a windfall tax that supports households in Scotland through the cost-of-living crisis and puts money back into our communities.”

Scottish Conservatives chairman Craig Hoy said: “Scots won’t be fooled by Anas Sarwar’s sudden pretence that he is on the side of hard-pressed workers.

“He joined the SNP to vote for their plans which have made us the highest taxed part of the United Kingdom, while his previous tax proposals would have gone even further than the Nationalists currently have.

“The Scottish Labour leader cannot speak about delivering change when you cannot get a cigarette paper between him and Humza Yousaf. From the Hate Crime Act, to turning off the taps in the North Sea, they have sided with the SNP.

“In crucial seats across Scotland, only the Scottish Conservatives can beat the SNP and ensure the focus moves onto people’s real priorities.”

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