Rishi Sunak’s Support for Israel Risks UK Complicity in Gaza War Crimes, Warns Senior Tory MP

Published: 15 October 2023

By Shofi Ahmed

A senior Conservative MP, Crispin Blunt, has expressed grave concerns over the UK government’s uncritical support for Israel, warning that it could make Britain complicit in war crimes committed in Gaza. In a letter addressed to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Blunt emphasised the potential legal consequences facing the UK due to its apparent unqualified support for the Israeli government’s policies.

The International Centre of Justice for Palestinians (ICJP) co-chaired by Blunt, has already issued a notice of intention to prosecute UK officials based on clear evidence of war crimes committed by Israel. Amidst escalating tensions, Israel’s recent order for 1.2 million people in the northern Gaza Strip to evacuate their homes in preparation for a military operation has raised further concerns.


The ICJP is said to be planning to sue Rishi Sunak’s government for its alleged complicity in war crimes committed by Israel in Gaza. Citing evidence of violations of international law, the ICJP aims to hold UK officials accountable for their unqualified support for the Israeli government’s policies. The lawsuit argues that by endorsing and failing to condemn these actions, the UK government has become complicit in the perpetration of war crimes. The ICJP seeks to shed light on these issues and ensure that justice is served for the victims of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.


Reports from Gaza indicate that Israeli strikes have led to the deaths of approximately 1,900 Palestinians, including 583 children, over the past week, with the likelihood of a full-scale ground invasion looming. In addition to military operations, Israel has blocked the entry of goods into Gaza and cut off its electricity supply, causing devastating humanitarian consequences.


Blunt’s warning follows comments from Alicia Kearns, the current chair of the foreign affairs committee, who argued that the UK needs to be firm and assertive with its allies. Kearns stressed the importance of adhering to international law and proportionality when addressing conflicts, highlighting that countries have the right to defend themselves within the framework of international rules.


Margate Ross, a commenter wrote on The Independent: “The history of American and British Colonial Expansion, where the indigenous populations were either murdered or sold into slavery, cannot be repeated in Palestine, although Palestinians have spent the past 70 years in an open air concentration camp! The last illegal war in Arabia, the pulverisation of an innocent nation, Iraq, by the British and American in regime change must not be repeated in Palestine. Britain and the USA are arming Israel to the teeth. The world cannot stand by and allow this massacre of innocent civilian Palestinian people in their own homeland.”


Meanwhile, despite mounting concerns, Rishi Sunak has reiterated the UK’s full support for Israel and announced the deployment of RAF surveillance aircraft and Royal Navy vessels to the region. While Downing Street has called on Israel to protect ordinary Palestinians, some government officials, including Defense Secretary Grant Shapps, have endorsed Israel’s order for Palestinians to vacate the territory.


The mass relocation of the population, deemed infeasible by the United Nations, is seen as an action that would have devastating consequences for the civilians affected. Blunt emphasised that failure to take action against perceived war crimes would make the UK complicit in such acts, citing the evolving nature of international law that makes complicity equivalent to guilt.


To avoid potential legal action, Blunt urged the UK government to publicly condemn Israeli breaches of international law and demand an immediate ceasefire and an end to the blockade, allowing for vital humanitarian access. Criticism of Israel’s retaliatory strikes and the collective punishment of innocent civilians has come from various corners, including Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf who emphasised the need for actions to be conducted within international law.


As the international community closely monitors the situation, it remains crucial for the UK government, under Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s leadership, to take immediate action to prevent complicity in potential war crimes. Upholding international norms and protecting human rights are quintessential responsibilities for any government, which should not be compromised for the sake of political alliances.