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UK government lawyers say Israel is breaking international law, claims top Tory

The British government has received advice from its own lawyers stating that Israel has breached international humanitarian law in Gaza but has failed to make it public, according to advice received from its own lawyers, according to a leaked recording obtained by the UK's Observer newspaper.

The comments were made by the Conservative chair of the House of Commons select committee on foreign affairs, Alicia Kearns, at a Tory fundraising event on 13 March, according to the Observer report, and are at odds with repeated ministerial denials and evasion on the issue.

On Saturday night, Kearns, a former Foreign Office official, who has repeatedly pressed ministers, including Foreign Secretary David Cameron, on the legal advice they have received, stood by her comments and called for transparency from the government.

“I remain convinced the government has completed its updated assessment on whether Israel is demonstrating a commitment to international humanitarian law, and that it has concluded that Israel is not demonstrating this commitment, which is the legal determination it has to make,” she said. “Transparency at this point is paramount, not least to uphold the international rules-based order.”

The revelation will place Cameron and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak under intense pressure because any such legal advice would mean the UK had to immediately cease all arms sales to Israel.

Not doing so could risk putting the UK in breach of international law, as it would be seen as aiding and abetting war crimes by a country it was exporting arms to.

“The Foreign Office has received official legal advice that Israel has broken international humanitarian law but the government has not announced it," Kearns said at the fundraiser in north London, according to the Observer.

“They have not said it, they haven’t stopped arms exports.”