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Labour calls for ‘immediate humanitarian ceasefire’ in Gaza

20 Feb 2024 4 minute read
The US says Israel has agreed to put in place four-hour daily humanitarian pauses in its assault on Hamas in northern Gaza

Labour has called for an “immediate humanitarian ceasefire” in the Israel-Hamas conflict in a major shift in the party’s stance on the war.

The Opposition party has tabled an amendment to the SNP’s ceasefire in Gaza motion, to be voted on in the House of Commons on Wednesday.

Sir Keir Starmer has previously called for a “ceasefire that lasts” in the Middle East, but stopped short of using the word “immediate”.

The Labour leader’s position on the conflict has long caused unease among some in his party, with dozens of Labour MPs breaking ranks over an earlier SNP motion three months ago.

In an apparent attempt to get ahead of another possible rebellion, Labour on Tuesday tabled its own lengthy amendment.

Humanitarian ceasefire

A party spokesperson said: “Our amendment calls for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, in line with our allies.

“We need the hostages released and returned. We need the fighting to stop now. We need a massive humanitarian aid programme for Gaza. And any military action in Rafah cannot go ahead.

“There needs to be an end to violence on all sides. Israelis have the right to the security that the horror of October 7 cannot happen again.

“We want the fighting to stop now. We also have to be clear on how we prevent the violence starting up again. There will be no lasting peace without a diplomatic process that delivers a two-state solution, with a safe and secure Israel alongside a viable Palestinian state.”

Hostages

The amendment 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, which means an immediate stop to the fighting and a ceasefire that lasts and is observed by all sides”.

The SNP’s motion is shorter and calls for “an immediate ceasefire” without some of the qualification attached by Labour.

There have been fears Wednesday’s vote could reopen deep divides among Labour MPs on the war between Israel and Hamas militants.

A similar motion tabled by the SNP in November saw eight shadow ministers rebel to back an immediate ceasefire, with some 56 Labour members defying a three-line whip and backing an amendment to the King’s Speech.

Labour would not get into the consequences for MPs who do not vote for its amendment this week.

Sir Keir, speaking at the Scottish Labour conference on Sunday, called for a “ceasefire that lasts” in the Middle East, in an echo of previous calls by UK ministers for a “sustainable ceasefire”.

Delegates

But Scottish Labour delegates backed calls for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza at the gathering.

SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn urged all MPs to “vote with your conscience for an immediate ceasefire”.

In a letter to MPs from all parties on Tuesday, he wrote: “I hope Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer will find the courage to change their position and do the only right thing but, if they won’t, it falls to us, MPs of all parties, to show we demand a ceasefire now.”

Hamas’ October 7 attack on Israel killed around 1,200 people, with around 250 taken hostage.

Militants still hold around 130 hostages, and a quarter of them are believed to be dead.

The war unleashed by the atrocity has killed at least 29,100 Palestinians, according to the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry.

Meanwhile, the Prince of Wales called for fighting to end “as soon as possible” and increased humanitarian support for Gaza.

In a statement ahead of carrying out visits to recognise the human suffering caused by conflict in the Middle East and the global rise in antisemitism, William said he was “deeply concerned” about the “terrible human cost” since the Hamas terror attack, and said there was a “desperate need” for increased humanitarian support for Gaza.

In New York, the US has proposed a UN Security Council resolution calling for a temporary ceasefire and opposing a ground offensive by its ally Israel in the southern Gaza city of Rafah.

The US had previously refrained from using the term ceasefire.

Downing Street declined to say whether the UK would support the US’s draft resolution on Tuesday.

The Prime Minister’s spokesman told reporters: “It’s a long-standing practice that we wouldn’t reveal our voting intention on resolutions in advance.

“But clearly we have consistently supported an immediate humanitarian pause in Gaza, leading to a longer-term sustainable ceasefire.”


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Steve A Duggan
Steve A Duggan
1 month ago

I agree there needs to be a ceasefire and yes there should be calls for it to happen. However, I fear they will just fall upon deaf ears as the amount of influence from the likes of the Labour party and even the British government is negligible these days. The US is really the only player with any leverage. The UN needs to become far stronger, needs reform by kicking out the Security Council and its vetos and needs to produce an effective peace keeping force, not the one that does little these days. The world is becoming ever more… Read more »

David
David
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve A Duggan

ALL UN nations should be equal, with NO favouritism for certain countries.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago

A life for a life, where did that equation go Clark Kent ?

The Moral Maze!

Boy, didn’t the BBC, Buerk, Gove and the Vixen do a good job on the minds of R4 listeners and as collateral damage, their children…

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

Gove in trouble again, this time for dishing up the PPE contracts again. Looks like an old mate in the Rag Trade spotted a gap in QPR’s defence and slipped Gove and guest the Bosses box on a free transfer…£164 million in PPE contract, £16m goal to personal donor David Meller, assist M. Gove…guardian…

Neilyn
Neilyn
1 month ago

When the ‘Prince of Wales’ speaks, the world listens, right?

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