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Britain's Guardian newspaper Saturday quoted official sources as saying that the British government has imposed an embargo on the sale of military equipment to Israel, in light of the IDF's Operation Defensive Shield currently underway in the territories. The Guardian also quotes a source as saying that France has imposed a similar ban on arms sales to Israel.

According to The Guardian, the sources have said that the embargo is not a "formal or complete ban" and added that the government is "coy" about identifying which arms have been included in the sales ban.

The Guardian quotes a Whitehall official as explaining that the government's guidelines recommend blocking weapons sales to a country intending to use those arms for "internal repression" or a mission that would have a negative affect on "regional stability in any significant way."

The guidelines also suggest a ban should be implemented if there are strong indications "that the intended recipient would use the proposed export aggressively against another country, or to assert by force a territorial claim."

The source told The Guardian that the embargo has been kept secret from the public because of "deep divisions of opinion in Whitehall" over how best to deal with the conflict in the Middle East. According to the source, these divisions went "a long way up" in the government.

Last year, the Guardian states, the British government approved military equipment for export to Israel worth £12.5 million (approximately $18 million). This included "demolition charges, general purpose machine guns, rifles, small arms ammunition, components for small caliber artillery ammunition, and components for air-to-surface missiles, armored fighting vehicles, armored personnel carriers, combat aircraft and helicopters, and tanks."

According to the Guardian, government officials have "made it clear these items would not now be approved for export to Israel."