SNP Gaza ceasefire motion looks 'perfectly reasonable', Anas Sarwar says

Scottish Labour's two MPs are under pressure to back the SNP motion after the party voted overwhelmingly to call for an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.

Anas Sarwar: SNP Gaza ceasefire motion looks ‘perfectly reasonable’ Getty Images

The SNP’s looming ceasefire motion in the House of Commons looks “perfectly reasonable”, Anas Sarwar has said.

The Scottish Labour leader told journalists at the party’s conference in Glasgow that he and Keir Starmer ultimately agreed on the need for urgent peace in the Middle East.

He said there was “probably not distance at all” between both leaders’ stances, and referenced Starmer saying “the fighting must stop now”.

Scottish Labour members voted on Saturday to overwhelmingly back a motion calling for an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.

It adds pressure on Starmer to adopt that position. The Labour leader has refused to use the word “immediate”, opting for “sustainable” instead.

While taking questions from reporters, Sarwar was shown a copy of the SNP ceasefire motion, slated to appear before MPs on Wednesday.

“We agree in terms of the UK Labour Party and the Scottish Labour Party,” he said, “and I know in the conversations whips are seeking to have with the SNP and that Ian Murray is having with Stephen Flynn that we both want the violence to stop and we both want a ceasefire.

“I think that’s something that we can project on Wednesday in the UK Parliament.”

From left: Scottish Labour MPs Ian Murray and Michael Shanks alongside UK Labour leader Keir Starmer.Getty Images

He added: “Look, [the motion] seems perfectly reasonable.”

He said the SNP and Labour both wanted the same thing, adding that it “looks like a pretty decent motion”.

Sarwar said he did not want the issue to devolve into “two political parties having a go at each other when in actual fact what matters here is people in Israel and Palestine who are fighting for their lives”.

“That’s more important than our internal politics in Scotland and the UK,” he said.

A previous Westminster vote on a ceasefire in November saw Labour lose ten shadow ministers and parliamentary aides who rebelled against the leadership’s stance on Gaza.

The move was a significant rebellion for Starmer as he urged his MPs to abstain from the ceasefire vote, instead calling for them to back a separate softer motion criticising Israel’s conduct.

Now, the SNP is urging Sarwar to whip Scotland’s two Labour MPs – Michael Shanks and Ian Murray – to vote in favour of a ceasefire.

SNP MP Brendan O’Hara said: “There is no excuse now for Anas Sarwar not to ensure his Labour MPs don’t repeat the same devastating mistake they made when they opposed a ceasefire in November – he needs to show some leadership and whip them to vote in favour this time.

“The time for warm words is over. More than 28,000 Palestinian children, women and civilians have now been killed since Westminster failed to back a ceasefire in November.

“It’s essential that the UK government and parliament join international pressure for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza – by refusing to do so they are making an urgent ceasefire less likely.”

What does the SNP ceasefire motion say?

“That this house calls for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and Israel; notes with shock and distress that the death toll has now risen beyond 28,000, the vast majority of whom were women and children; further notes that there are currently 1.5 million Palestinians sheltering in Rafah, 610,000 of whom are children; also notes that they have nowhere else to go; condemns any military assault on what is now the largest refugee camp in the world; further calls for the immediate release of all hostages taken by Hamas and an end to the collective punishment of the Palestinian people; and recognises that the only way to stop the slaughter of innocent civilians is to press for a ceasefire now.”

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