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by Louise Wilson
18 February 2024
Keir Starmer calls for ‘ceasefire that lasts’ in Gaza

Keir Starmer addressed Scottish Labour's conference on Sunday | Alamy

Keir Starmer calls for ‘ceasefire that lasts’ in Gaza

Keir Starmer has called for a “ceasefire that lasts” in the Middle East, adding that the “fighting must stop now”.

The Labour leader, addressing delegates on Sunday, added that an offensive on Rafah “cannot happen”.

It follows Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar call for an “immediate ceasefire” in his speech to conference on Friday.

Sarwar later hinted his party may back the SNP this week in a vote on the matter, while shadow foreign secretary David Lammy said he would “scrutinise” the motion.

Labour suffered a sizeable rebellion when the matter was last brought to Westminster, with several frontbench MPs quitting their roles in order to vote with the SNP in favour of a ceasefire.

Starmer had ordered his MPs to abstain, having called for a “sustainable” end to the conflict.

In his speech at conference, Starmer said: “The fighting must stop now. Any ceasefire cannot be one-sided. It must stop all acts of violence, on both sides, it must lead to a genuine peace process.”

He added: “The two-state solution must be back on the table. A safe and secure Israel, where the horror that Hamas inflicted on 7 October, the largest loss of Jewish life since the Holocaust, can never happen again.

“And alongside that, a viable Palestinian state – a state which is not in the gift of any neighbour, but is an inalienable right of the Palestinian people and is recognised by this party and the world.”

Israel is set to launch a ground offensive in Rafah, but there has been international outcry given half of Gaza’s population is currently sheltering there.

Starmer said the city “cannot become a new theatre of war. That offensive cannot happen”.

SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn has written to Starmer to urge his party to back the motion on Wednesday and offered to meet ahead of the vote.

Flynn said: “Given the importance of this issue – literally a discussion on life and death – the very least the public would expect is that the leaders of the SNP and the Labour Party at Westminster can sit down and have a discussion on this ceasefire motion.”

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