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by Ruaraidh Gilmour
21 November 2023
MSPs to back Israel-Gaza ceasefire

The SNP and Scottish Labour will vote for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza later today | Alamy

MSPs to back Israel-Gaza ceasefire

MSPs are set to vote for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza at Holyrood today.  

Scottish Labour will support the SNP motion for an “immediate humanitarian ceasefire” despite a row between the two parties. 

The SNP have been accused of playing “petty politics” after First Minister Humza Yousaf said Scottish Labour's amendment must not “water down calls for a ceasefire” and that Anas Sarwar must "stand firm".

The amendment would require “all sides to comply”, which Labour say would strengthen the motion.  

The motion submitted by Yousaf, says the parliament condemns the “barbaric and unjustifiable terrorist attacks” of Hamas on 7 October against Israeli citizens, demands the release of all hostages, and agrees that the killing of “innocent civilians in Gaza, including women and children who have been besieged by Israeli forces” must stop. 

It also calls for increased humanitarian aid, international humanitarian law to be upheld, and a two-state peace solution “through reinvigorated diplomatic and political efforts in the Middle East Peace Process”. 

The motion reiterates the parliament’s “solidarity with Scotland’s Jewish, Muslim and Palestinian communities and condemns antisemitism, Islamophobia or any other form of hatred”. 

Scottish Labour’s amendment adds that it is “horrified” by the statement from Hamas which says they would repeat the 7 October attacks and continue rocket fire into Israel, while it regrets that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stated they will not consider a ceasefire.  

It calls on the international community to “use every form of diplomacy to try and create the conditions on the ground to make a ceasefire a reality”, and for the International Criminal Court to investigate the conduct of all parties in this conflict. 

In a statement yesterday, Humza Yousaf urged Scottish Labour to “stand firm” and back the ceasefire. 

He said: “This is a time for all of us to show leadership in the face of this humanitarian catastrophe. Anas Sarwar must stand firm and back an immediate ceasefire. The motion reflects his own public position on the issue. We will await the detail of the Labour amendment, but it must not water down calls for a ceasefire, as is being reported. 

“An immediate ceasefire is the only way to end the tragic deaths of civilians. This week, I urge MSPs of all parties to come together and say enough is enough - the time for a ceasefire is now.” 

Responding to the first minister’s comments, a Scottish Labour spokesman said: “This is a profoundly disappointing approach from the SNP publicly. 

“Since last Thursday, the SNP and Scottish Labour have been working on both a motion and amendment which represented the broad consensus across the parliament.” 

They added: “Despite agreement between Labour and the SNP on both the motion calling for an immediate ceasefire and the Labour amendment which goes further, the SNP have now indicated they want to play petty politics with this issue instead. 

“The SNP press office should retract this shameful attack which tarnishes the work both parties have done behind the scenes on this important issue.” 

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer does not favour a ceasefire and has instead called for “humanitarian pauses”, arguing that it would only "embolden" Hamas. 

The SNP’s motion calling for an immediate ceasefire was defeated last week at Westminster, with both Scottish Labour MPs Ian Murray and Michael Shanks abstaining from the vote. 56 Labour MPs rebelled and voted in favour of the motion. 

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