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Gloucestershire Business News

Dale Vince: 'Stop Israel arms sales'

Dale Vince, the owner of Stroud-based Ecotricity and Forest Green Rovers football club, has urged Labour leader Keir Starmer to ban British arms sales to Israel.

Any such move would bring Labour closer into line with the SNP and the Liberal Democrats, who are calling on the government to suspend export licences to Israel and not to grant any new licences in the wake of Israel's ongoing war on Gaza.

Arms exports to Israel amounted to £42m in 2022. The latest figures are not known but, according to a House of Commons statement, will be published tomorrow (June 7).

However, according to the Campaign Against the Arms Trade, since 2008, the UK has licenced arms worth over £574m to Israel, based on analysis of export data.

Mr Vince, whose club Forest Green Rovers flies the Palestinian flag at its stadium in Nailsworth, told the Daily Telegraph that banning such sales to Israel "would be an obvious step" if Keir Starmer becomes the UK's next prime minister. Failing to do so would be a "moral crime".

He added: "I think [banning sales] would be an obvious step. Otherwise, the weapons we make here are killing innocent people and we are making money off the back of that. I think that's a moral crime."

As a significant donor to Labour, Mr Vince handed over £5m to the party's warchest since the start 2024, with more than £1m being given on the day after Rishi Sunak called the election (May 22).

The West was showing "terrible double standards" in its approach to the war compared with other conflicts such as in Ukraine, he said, adding: "We've been too timid. Too often people simply repeat the line 'Israel has the right to defend itself'. Nearly 40,000 civilian deaths is not self-defence. The Israeli army are out of control, the State of Israel is out of control in Palestine. Everybody should be saying more and doing more."

● Canada and the Netherlands have this year halted exports to Israel in reaction to the rising death toll in Palestine. A recent probe into UK arms sales by Rueters reported that Britain granted export licenses to sell at least £42m of defense equipment to Israel. This broke down into munitions, unmanned air vehicles, small arms ammunition and componentry for aircraft, helicopters, and assault rifles.

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