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by Louise Wilson
21 November 2023
MSPs back ceasefire in Gaza

Protests supporting a ceasefire have taken place across Scotland in recent weeks | Alamy

MSPs back ceasefire in Gaza

MSPs have overwhelmingly backed a ceasefire in Gaza, following a debate in the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday.

In the final vote, 90 MSPs supported a Scottish Government motion, amended by Labour, stating that “all parties must agree to an immediate ceasefire”.

28 MSPs voted against it.

Opening the debate, First Minister Humza Yousaf reiterated his condemnation of Hamas’s attacks on Israel on 7 October, but also criticised Israel’s response.

He said: “Israel has a right, like any other country in the world, to protect its citizens from terror. However, no country, Israel included, has a right to ignore international humanitarian law.

“That is why this government has repeatedly called for an end to the 16-year blockade and siege of Gaza.

“It’s why this government is unequivocal in its condemnation of the Israeli government cutting off water, food, fuel and supplies to the entire population of Gaza at the beginning of this latest cycle of violence. Collective punishment can never be justified.”

The First Minister has also urged Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Labour leader Keir Starmer to formally recognise the state of Palestine. He said this was the “only way” forward for a two-state solution in the Middle East.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar backed the Scottish Government’s call for a ceasefire, in contrast to his party at Westminster.

He said it was “vital that we see a cessation of all violence” in the region, but that “all sides must be willing to comply”.

He condemned comments by Hamas leaders that the group would continue its attacks on Israel, as well as those made by Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu that his government would not consider a ceasefire.

“Peace is only possible, not with bullets and bombs, but with a political process that leads to a two-state solution with an end to illegal occupation,” Sarwar said.

At UK level, Labour has rejected calls to support a ceasefire, instead saying there should be “humanitarian pauses” to allow aid into Gaza. A vote in the Commons last week resulted in a significant rebellion, with several frontbenchers resigning their positions.

The Scottish Conservatives were the only party at Holyrood not to back a ceasefire, with MSP Donald Cameron warning there was “no hope” this would bring about peace.

He said Hamas would use the opportunity to “regroup and advance its brutal aim of destroying the state of Israel”.

“A ceasefire requires both of the two opposing sides to support it, and regrettably it has been clear for some time now that Hamas would not respect a ceasefire. Hamas does not even respect the right of Israel to exist, let alone work towards peace,” he said.

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