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by Ruaraidh Gilmour
20 February 2024
Labour calls for ‘immediate humanitarian ceasefire’ in Gaza

Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer | Alamy

Labour calls for ‘immediate humanitarian ceasefire’ in Gaza

Labour has called for an “immediate humanitarian ceasefire” between Israel and Hamas, shifting its position on the conflict.  

It comes in the form of an amendment to the SNP’s motion for a ceasefire in Gaza, which is to be voted on in the House of Commons tomorrow.  

Speaking at Scottish Labour’s annual conference last weekend, Sir Keir Starmer called for a “ceasefire that lasts” but left the word “immediate” out of his speech.  

His stance was not aligned with the party in Scotland, whose members unanimously backed calls for an immediate ceasefire in response to a motion at the conference.  

The Labour leader has been under pressure to change his stance on a ceasefire after 56 of his MPs voted with an SNP motion on a ceasefire in November, rebelling against the party. 

The SNP’s latest motion on the conflict calls for an “immediate ceasefire in Gaza and Israel” and argues that "the only way to stop the slaughter of innocent civilians is to press for a ceasefire now". 

Labour’s amendment seeks to add the word “humanitarian” and calls for an "immediate humanitarian ceasefire, which means an immediate stop to the fighting and a ceasefire that lasts and is observed by all sides". 

It also reiterates that Israel has the “right to assurance that the horror of 7th October cannot happen again" and is conditional that Hamas ceases violence.  

It calls on MPs to support “Australia, Canada and New Zealand’s calls for Hamas to release and return all hostages and for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire”. 

Writing to SNP Westminster group leader Stephen Flynn, Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland Ian Murray said: “We have placed an amendment to your motion that seeks the same immediate humanitarian ceasefire but broadens the proposition by outlining not just a much more wide-ranging position than the SNP motion but gives a plan for how to get to the peace we all crave.” 

Responding to Labour's shift in position, Flynn welcomed the "long-overdue U-turn" but said Starmer had been "forced" into this position through public pressure. 

He said: "It's telling that it took the SNP to insert a backbone into the Labour Party and act as Westminster's conscience on this conflict.
 
"Questions will naturally arise as to why it's taken Sir Keir so long to change his mind, what his long months of prevarication achieved, and whether he will reinstate the MPs he sacked in November for supporting the same position he finally holds too.
 
"These are all questions the Labour Party leader will now have answer - I am just relieved that he has finally changed his mind and changed his position."

 

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