Vince Cable
Business Secretary Vince Cable said 12 licences would be suspended if Gaza ceasefire collapsedReuters

The government has been criticised following the announcement they will suspend arms exports to Israel should "significant hostilities" resume in Gaza.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said 12 licenses for exports to Israel will be suspended by the UK government as they "have not been able to clarify" whether the equipment would be used by the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) in the conflict in Gaza against Hamas.

Baroness Warsi, the former foreign office minister who resigned because of the government's "morally indefensible" stance on Gaza, was one of those who condemned Cable's decision.

She tweeted: "Arms export licences will only be suspended if hostilities resume!! So more people have to die before our criteria is met."

The group Campaign Against Arms Trade also criticised the government's "outrageously weak response" to the review of licensed exports to Israel.

Andrew Smith, spokesperson for Campaign Against Arms Trade, said: "We always hear about the strength of the UK's arms control policy, but this underlines how poor it actually is.

"Even by Vince Cable's own admission UK weapons may have been used in Gaza. The UK's failure to even suspend these licences unless the violence resumes is simply not good enough.

"It is a very weak position and it will be seen as a sign of political support for the Israeli government and military."

Smith added: "The public is rightfully shocked by the bombardment that has been taking place and the UK needs to take responsibility by revoking all current licences. It should announce a full embargo on all arms sales to Israel as well as an end to all military-industrial collaboration with Israel."

The threat to suspend arms exports to Israel arrived after deputy prime minister Nick Clegg called for a full revoke of military equipment sales to Israel if the ceasefire in Gaza broke down.

The Liberal Democrats admitted it took a "significant amount of time and effort" for the coalition to agree to suspend export licences in Israel if the fighting resumes.

A spokesperson added: "It is no secret that there has been a difference of opinion in the coalition government on this issue.

"Nick Clegg and Vince Cable have been very clear for some time both privately and publicly that they wanted to see arms export licences to Israel suspended because of the situation in Gaza."