Open Letter to the States Parties to the Arms Trade Treaty on the Need to Impose a Comprehensive Two-Way Arms Embargo on Israel


We, the undersigned global coalition of leaders –from civil society to academia, art, media, business, politics, indigenous and faith communities, and people of conscience around the world– call upon the States Parties to the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) to act decisively to put an end to Israel’s notorious use of arms and military equipment for the commission of serious violations of international humanitarian law and human rights against Palestinian civilians by immediately imposing a comprehensive two-way arms embargo on Israel.

In the spring of 2021, the world once again watched in horror as Israeli occupying forces attacked defenceless Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip, in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and inside Israel. Palestinian civilians peacefully protesting against colonisation of their land were assaulted with live fire, rubber-coated steel bullets, sound bombs, tear gas and skunk water. Israel’s deadly military aggression against the Palestinian civilian population in the Gaza Strip was the fourth in a decade. Over 11 days, 248 Palestinians were killed, including 66 children. Thousands were wounded, and the reverberating effects of the use of explosive weapons on hospitals, schools, food security, water, electricity and shelter continue to affect millions.

This systematic brutality, perpetrated throughout the past seven decades of Israel’s colonialism, apartheid, pro-longed illegal belligerent occupation, persecution, and closure, is only possible because of the complicity of some governments and corporations around the world.

Symbolic statements of condemnation alone will not put an end to this suffering. In accordance with the relevant rules of the ATT, States Parties have legal obligations to put an end to irresponsible and often complicit trade of conventional arms that undermines international peace and security, facilitates commission of egregious crimes, and threatens the international legal order.

Under Article 6(3) of the ATT, States Parties undertook not to authorise any transfer of conventional arms if they have knowledge at the time of authorisation that arms or items would be used in the commission of genocide, crimes against humanity, grave breaches of the Geneva conventions of 1949, attacks directed against civilian objects or civilians protected as such, or other war crimes as defined by international agreements to which they are a Party.

Under Articles 7 and 11, they undertook not to authorise any export of conventional arms, munitions, parts and components that would, inter alia, undermine peace and security or be used to commit serious violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law.

It is clear that arms exports to Israel are inconsistent with these obligations. Invariably, Israel has shown that it uses arms to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity, as documented by countless United Nations bodies and civil society organisations worldwide. Military exports to Israel also clearly enabled, facilitated and maintained Israel’s decades-long settler-colonial and apartheid regime imposed over the Palestinian people as a whole.

Similarly, arms imports from Israel are wholly inconsistent with obligations under the ATT. Israeli military and industry sources openly boast that their weapons and technologies are “combat proven” – in other words, field-tested on Palestinian civilians “human test subjects”. When States import Israeli arms, they are encouraging it to keep bombing Palestinian civilians and persist in its unlawful practices. No one –neither Israel, nor arms manufacturers in ATT States parties– should be allowed to profit from the killing or maiming of Palestinian civilians.

It is thus abundantly clear that imposing a two-way arms embargo on Israel is both a legal and a moral obligation. ATT States Parties must immediately terminate any current, and prohibit any future transfers of conventional arms, munitions, parts and components referred to in Article 2(1), Article 3 or Article 4 of the ATT to Israel, until it ends its illegal belligerent occupation of the occupied Palestinian territory and complies fully with its obligations under international law. Pending such an embargo, all States must immediately suspend all transfers of military equipment, assistance and munitions to Israel.

A failure to take these actions entails a heavy responsibility for the grave suffering of civilians – more deaths, more suffering, as thousands of Palestinian men, women and children continue to bear the brutality of a colonial belligerent occupying force– which would result in discrediting the ATT itself. It also renders States parties complicit in internationally wrongful acts through the aiding or abetting of international crimes.  A failure in taking action could also result in invoking the individual criminal responsibility of individuals of these States for aiding and abetting the commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity in accordance with Article 25(3)(c) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

Justice will remain elusive so long as Israel’s unlawful occupation, settler-colonialism, apartheid regime, and persecution and institutionalised oppression of the Palestinian people are allowed to continue, and so long as States continue to be complicit in the occupying Power’s crimes by trading weapons with it.

In conclusion, we believe that the ATT can make a difference in the Palestinian civilians’ lives. It has the potential, if implemented in good faith, to spare countless protected persons from suffering. If our call to stop leaving the Palestinian people behind when it comes to implementation of the ATT is ignored, the raison d’être of the ATT will be shattered.

Joining organisations:

1. Action Sécurité Ethique Républicaines

2. Adalah Justice Project

3. Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association

4. AFPS 63

5. Al Mezan Center for Human Rights

6. Aldameer Association for Human Rights

7. Al-Haq, Law in the Service of Man

8. Alrowwad Cultural and Arts Society

9. American Muslims for Palestine

10. Anglican Pacifist Fellowship

11. Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem (ARIJ)

12. Arab Canadian Lawyers Association

13. Arab Organization for Human Rights

14. Argenteuil Solidarité Palestine

15. Asociación Americana de Juristas

16. Association Belgo-Palestinienne WB

17. Association femmes plurielles

18. Association France Palestine Solidarité (AFPS)

19. AssoPacePalestina

20. Australia Palestine Advocacy Network

21. Australian Centre for International Justice

22. Australians For Palestine

23. Badayl

24. BDS Australia

25. Begian Campaign for Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel

26. Campagne BDS France

27. Canadian BDS Coalition

28. Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME)

29. Center for Constitutional Rights

30. Center for International Policy

31. Centro Interdisciplinario de Estudios Estratégicos para la Seguridad y el Desarrollo Social CIESED A.C.

32. CNAPD – Coordination Nationale d’Action pour la Paix et la Démocratie

33. Coalition for Justice and Peace in Palestine

34. Collectif 69 de Soutien au Peuple Palestinien

35. Collectif BDS 57

36. Collectif Judéo Arabe et Citoyen pour la Palestine

37. Colombian Campaign to Ban Landmines

38. Columban missionaries Britain

39. Columbia Law Students for Palestine

40. Combatants for Peace

41. Comitato BDS Campania

42. Comité de Solidaridad con la Causa Árabe

43. Comité pour une Paix Juste au Proche-Orient asbl

44. Community Action Center – Al-Quds University

45. Confederación Intersindical Gallega (CIG)

46. Cultura è Libertà, una campagna per la Palestina

47. Dagropass

48. De Palestijnse gemeenschap in Nederland

49. Defense for Children -Palestine (DCI-Palestine)

50. Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN)

51. docP – BDS Netherlands

52. Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights

53. European Coordination of Committees and Associations for Palestine (ECCP)

54. European Legal Support Center

55. Femmes Unies pour la Paix dans la région des Grands Lacs

56. FILEF Sydney Federation of Italian Migrant Workers

57. Finnish-Arab Friendship Society

58. Friends of Palestine Tasmania Inc

59. Gaza Action Ireland

60. Gesellschaft Schweiz Palästina GSP/ASP

61. Global Kairos Asia Pacific Solidarity For Palestine (GKAPS)

62. Good Shepherd Collective

63. Housing and Land Rights Network

64. Human Rights and Democratic Participation Center “SHAMS”

65. Human Rights Network Nigeria

66. ICAHD Finland


68. Independent Jewish Voices Canada

69. Indian Writers Forum

70. Indo Palestine Solidarity Forum

71. International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (EAFORD)

72. International Women’s Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific

73. Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign

74. Jewish Voice For Peace

75. Jews for Palestinian Right of Return

76. Just Peace Advocates/Mouvement Pour Une Paix Juste

77. Karapatan

78. Kenya Human Rights Commission

79. Labor for Palestine

80. Manushya Foundation

81. National Association of Democratic Lawyers (South Africa)

82. National Justice & Peace Network (NJPN)

83. National Lawyers Guild, Palestine Subcommittee

84. Nederlands Palestina Komitee

85. Newweapons research group

86. Niagara Movement for Justice in Palestine-Israel (NMJPI)

87. North Notts Unite Community


89. Oakville Palestinian Rights Association

90. Palestine Solidarity Network – Edmonton

91. Palestinian and Jewish Unity

92. Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR)

93. Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign (Stop the Wall)

94. Palestinian Non-Governmental Organizations Network (PNGO)

95. Pax Christi International

96. Pax Christi, England and Wales

97. Paz con Dignidad

98. Platform of French NGOs for Palestine

99. Salaam ragazzi dell’Olivo, comitato di Trieste

100. Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network

101. SODePAZ

102. Solutions Not Punishment Collaborative

103. The Civic Coalition for Palestinians Right in Jérusalem

104. The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD)

105. The Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center (JLAC)

106. The National Association of Human Rights Defenders

107. The Oakville Palestinian Rights Association

108. The Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council (PHROC)

109. The Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy-MIFTAH

110. UJFP French Jewish union for peace

111. Union syndicale Solidaires

112. US Campaign for Palestinian Rights

113. US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel

114. Visualizing Palestine

115. Vrede vzw

116. Vredesactie

117. War on Want

118. Women for Palestine

119. Women in Black Vienna

120. Women’s Centre for Legal Aid and Counselling

Joining individuals:

121. Ahmed Ben

122. Ahmed Reda Tolba

123. Alaa Shalaby

124. Alaaeddine Tatak

125. Aline Shaban

126. Amin Abbas

127. Andrea Balduzzi

128. Angie Mindel

129. Ann McNicholas

130. Anne Peacey

131. Ashley Tellis

132. Atamjit Singh

133. Audrey J Bomse

134. Badee M.T. Aldwaik

135. Baruti Likoyi

136. Bernadette McPhee

137. Chirag Shah

138. Claudia Karas

139. Claudia Schiavelli

140. Denise Peillon

141. Denotter JJ

142. Devaki Khanna

143. Dr. Ibrahim Lada’a

144. Dr. Nerina Cecchin

145. Egbert Harmsen

146. Marc Fayard

147. Firoz Ahmad

148. Flavia Lepre

149. Françoise Abadie

150. Frstot Marie-Paule

151. Gabriel Mondragón Toledo

152. Geeta Kapur

153. Geeta Kapur

154. Georges Franco

155. Gillard Francois

156. Gina Cardosi

157. Githa Hariharan

158. Gregory Kotoy

159. Gyan Prakash

160. Haidi Ali Muhammad Eltayeb

161. Hélène Le Cacheux

162. Herman De Ley

163. Huwaida Arraf

164. Ian Ampleford

165. Ian Mc Cabe

166. Indu Chandrasekhar

167. Jake Javanshir

168. James Dickins

169. James Lafferty

170. John King

171. Joop Hoekstra

172. Julia Auf Dem Brinke

173. Julie Hart

174. Kalyani Chaudhuri

175. Karel Arnaut

176. Karin Brothers

177. Karin Verelst

178. Kathryn Kelly

179. Kellie Tranter

180. Lauren Speiser

181. Laurent De Wangen

182. Lee Rhiannon

183. Luisa Morgantini

184. M.N. Harakeh

185. Madeline Lutjeharms

186. Maha Abdallah

187. Maha Alami

188. Malini Bhattacharya

189. Mani Shankar Aiyar

190. Marcy Newman

191. Maria Bartolacci

192. Marjorie Cohn

193. Martin Mavenjina

194. Massimiliano Masini

195. Maxime Florentin

196. Maya Devi

197. Michael Letwin

198. Michel Gevers

199. Mohamad Arouki

200. Mohamed Aboelazm

201. Mohammad Al Nabulsi

202. Mohan Rao

203. Monique Vincent

204. Muralidharan K

205. Nalini Nayak

206. Nandini Sundar

207. Naresh Dadhich

208. Nasir Tyabji

209. Navdeep Mathur

210. Nick Deane

211. Nozomi Takahashi

212. Oishik Sircar

213. P A Azeez

214. Pamela Blakelock

215. Pamela Philipose

216. Paola Manduca

217. Patrick Lechopier

218. Persis Ginwalla

219. Pierre Bordone

220. Pushpa Achanta

221. Pushpamala N

222. Raffaele Spiga

223. Rajni Palriwala

224. Rev Joseph Ryan

225. Rey Asis

226. Rudolf Knutti

227. S. Raghunandana

228. Salim Yusufji

229. Sellin Jean-Christophe

230. Shafey Kidwai

231. Sharib Aqleem Ali

232. Sigour Brigitte

233. Sonia Fayman

234. Stephen Flaherty

235. Sue Ingham

236. Sumanta Banerjee

237. Terri Ginsberg

238. Valter Mutt

239. Vinay Bharadwaj

240. Vincent Basabé

241. Winfried Belz

242. Yousuf Saeed

243. YVes Goaer

244. Yves Jardin