UK ministers will be warned about their “complicity” in the potential genocide of Palestinians in Gaza if Britain keeps arming Israel, a former ambassador has claimed.

Figures such as Defence Secretary Grant Shapps, Foreign Secretary David Cameron and even the Prime Minister could be charged under English law if the International Court of Justice (ICJ) eventually finds Israel guilty of genocide, according to Craig Murray.

Murray, a human rights campaigner and the former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, made the claims in an exclusive interview with The National, in which he said the UK Government has “got to stop military cooperation with Israel while this alleged genocide continues”.

It comes after a statement from the ICJ, the UN’s top court, on Friday, which has been interpreted as deeming “plausible” the argument that Israel is perpetrating a genocide against Palestinians.

Gaza has been under bombardment by its neighbour since the Hamas attacks against Israel on October 7 and around 25,000 Palestinians are believed to have been killed to date.

The ICJ ordered Israel to ensure it did not commit genocide but stopped short of calling for an immediate ceasefire or demanding it end its military operations in Palestine.

The National:

Because the UN’s Genocide Convention has been incorporated into English law, Murray (above) argued ministers will be warned about the extent of Britain’s support for Israel.

'Armed shipments must stop' 

According to the Campaign Against Arms Trade, the UK has sold key parts of military equipment to Israel worth “at least” £336 million.

Murray said: “They plainly can’t now continue weapons shipments to Israel, which they’ve been doing regularly out of Akrotiri in Cyprus. They’ve got to stop military cooperation with Israel while this alleged genocide continues, otherwise they’re risking complicity in genocide.

“If genocide is eventually found by the ICJ – which I believe it will be – there’s a real question as to whether [Rishi] Sunak, [former foreign secretary James] Cleverly and Shapps, Cameron are guilty of complicity in genocide for supplying weapons to it.

READ MORE: Israel ordered to prevent genocide in Gaza by UN's top court

“And the Genocide Convention is not just a matter of international law, it’s actually incorporated into UK law, or English and Welsh law, by the International Criminal Court Act of 2001, which specifically incorporates the Genocide Convention. So they could be charged in the UK, they could be charged in England with complicity in genocide, if the ICJ finds genocide.

The National: Grant Shapps

“Now what the ICJ has very plainly done is put on warning there’s a plausible case this is genocide, so really now they have to stop.”

Official warnings

Government lawyers will be writing to ministers in the wake of the ruling to warn them of the potential legal risks in continuing arm sales to Israel, Murray said.

“I do think that Government lawyers are going to seriously warn ministers about their personal liability if they continue,” he said.

“And from having been inside the Foreign Office, I’m sure that will happen. There will now be warnings issued by Government lawyers to ministers that they could be facing personal liability if genocide is found, if they continue armed shipments to Israel.”

READ MORE: Stephen Flynn challenges Sunak and Starmer following ICJ genocide ruling

The International Criminal Court Act of 2001 makes it a criminal offence for a person to “engage in conduct ancillary” to genocide.

The Foreign Office has been asked about Murray’s claims.

While the ICJ ruling represents a significant intervention in the crisis in Gaza, it did not determine whether a genocide was taking place.

In its interim ruling on the case brought against Israel by South Africa, the court ruled that Israel must do all it can to prevent genocide, including refraining from killing Palestinians or causing harm to them.

It also ruled it urgently needs to get basic aid to people in Gaza and that Israel should prevent and punish any incitement to genocide, among other measures.

The court said Israel should submit a report on measures taken within a month.

Palestinian foreign minister Riyad al-Maliki welcomed “the significant order”.

He said that the judges “ruled in favour of humanity and international law”.

Israel furious 

But it provoked a furious response from Israel, with prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu (below) calling the suggestion his forces were perpetrating genocide “outrageous”.

The National: Benjamin Netanyahu

He welcomed the court’s decision not to order a ceasefire, but added: “But the very claim that Israel is committing genocide against the Palestinians is not just false, it is outrageous […] the court’s willingness to discuss this at all is a mark of disgrace that will not be erased for generations”.

The ICJ was established in 1945, after the end of the Second World War.

The UK Government was approached for comment.