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by Chris Marshall
17 February 2024
Anas Sarwar signals Labour support for Gaza ceasefire ahead of vote on SNP motion

Anas Sarwar signals Labour support for Gaza ceasefire ahead of vote on SNP motion

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar has said there is now “no distance” between him and Keir Starmer on calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.

Meeting for its annual conference in Glasgow, Scottish Labour members earlier backed a motion calling for an “immediate ceasefire”. On Friday, Sarwar used his speech to call for an immediate end to the violence.

This week MPs will be asked to vote on an SNP motion in the House of Commons calling for an immediate ceasefire. In November, a similar motion was defeated despite 56 Labour MPs defying the party whip to vote in favour.

Speaking to journalists, Sarwar was asked about the distance between Scottish Labour and the UK party.

He said: “I would suggest there’s probably no distance at all now. We’ve had repeated calls – from (shadow foreign secretary) David Lammy in recent days that he wants to fighting to stop right now.

“I know our whips have been in contact with the SNP whips to have a discussion about how we can unify around a motion and back a ceasefire. It’s pretty clear that Labour supports a ceasefire and wants to see alongside that ceasefire an immediate end to rocket fire, an immediate release of hostages and immediate access to humanitarian aid.”

Shown the wording of the SNP motion, Sarwar said: “It seems perfectly reasonable but we need to see the motion that’s tabled. We all want the same thing – we both want an immediate ceasefire…I think it looks like a pretty decent motion.”

During his address to conference on Friday, Sarwar called “the loss of innocent life in Israel and in Gaza” an “absolute travesty”, offering solidarity to the Jewish people for the October 7 massacre by Hamas and calling Benjamin Netanyahu’s government in Israel a “far-right government”.

He said the “collective punishment of 2.2 million innocent citizens of Gaza is not – never can be – a justifiable response to the horror inflicted by Hamas”.

And he said: “Only when we have a safe, secure state of Israel, side by side with a state of Palestine that is also safe and secure, will we have long-term peace.

“And let’s also be clear, Palestinian statehood is not in the gift of a neighbour, it is the right of the Palestinian people.”

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