Select Committee on Defence Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Letter from the FCO on Israel

  I am writing to draw your attention to Mr Bradshaw's 11 March reply to a Parliamentary Question from George Galloway MP, informing the House that UK-supplied equipment licensed for export under a previous Administration and a different export control regime is being used by the Israelis in the Occupied Territories. The Israelis have modified a number of Centurion tanks, exported to Israel between 1958 and 1970, into armoured personnel carriers—the Puma and Nachpadon—which have been deployed to the Occupied Territories. This contradicts a written assurance that the Israeli Government gave us on 29 November 2000 that: "no UK originated equipment nor any UK originated systems/sub-systems/components are used as part of the Israel Defence Force's activities in the Territories". This assurance was referred to in our answer to question 13(c) asked by the committee on 15 January.

  The Defence Attaché in Tel Aviv first observed the Puma APC deployed in the OTs in September 2001, with further sightings in November 2001 and December 2001 and the Nachpadon APC was first observed deployed in the OTs on 29 January 2002. Ministers were not informed of this until 11 March. A mistake was made in not making the connection sooner between the sighting of the Puma and Nachpadon APCs in the OTs, the fact that these APCs incorporate a British tank chassis, supplied up to 44 years ago, and the Israeli assurances about the use of British-supplied equipment in the OTs.

  Had Ministers known about the use of UK-supplied equipment in the Occupied Territories when answering the Committee's questions in February, then reference would have been made to it. This oversight was wholly unintentional.

  We have sought an explanation from the Israeli Government about the deployment of Puma and Nachpadon APCs in the Occupied Territories in the light of their assurance of 29 November 2000. We have been promised a response soon. Mr Bradshaw has undertaken to inform the House of the outcome.

  We have received no evidence that equipment manufactured in the UK and licensed for export by this Government has been used by Israeli forces in the Occupied Territories since the start of the second intifada in September 2000. Many UK exports have been for components for pieces of technology, which can be embedded in other systems and are therefore not visible. The DTI and MoD are currently closely scrutinising their records to ensure that this information is correct. The UK has not licensed for export main equipment such as tanks, aircraft, warships or artillery to Israel since May 1997.

21 March 2002

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