Scotland’s two Labour MPs will not support the SNP’s calls for a ceasefire in Gaza.
Ian Murray and Michael Shanks wrote a letter to the SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn asking him to vote for Labour’s demand for “humanitarian pauses” instead of a cessation in fighting between Hamas and Israel.
They will not back the SNP amendment to the King’s Speech and said the current conflict between Hamas and Israel could only be solved with a “political settlement,” rather than a cessation in fighting between the two factions.
In the letter, the pair wrote “neither the long-term security of Israel nor long-term justice for Palestine can be delivered by bombs and bullets,” adding that “common solutions” had to be found to bring the war to an end.
Labour’s position on the Middle East conflict has led to internal splits, including between the Westminster party and the Scottish party, led by Anas Sarwar.
NEW: Scottish Labour MPs Ian Murray & Michael Shanks have written to SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn setting out their position on stopping civilian deaths in Gaza – why they’re backing the Labour amendment, and not the SNP’s pic.twitter.com/MU5cExrhFP— Paris Gourtsoyannis (@PGourtsoyannis) November 15, 2023
Sarwar has backed calls for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas alongside Manchester mayor Andy Burnham and London mayor Sadiq Khan.
But Keir Starmer has refused to support such calls and has joined the UK Government in favour of a humanitarian pause instead.
Dozens of Labour councillors around the UK – including officials in Glasgow and Edinburgh – have quit over the UK Labour leader’s stance.
It’s understood Labour frontbenchers who back the SNP motion will be sacked.
The SNP’s Westminster leader has said Parliament must “show moral leadership” and vote in favour of backing an immediate cessation of hostilities.
Labour said it is “not going to be engaging” with the amendment put forward by the SNP to the King’s Speech, but is to seek its own motion addressing concerns on both sides of Middle East conflict.
A party spokesman suggested the amendment would include reference to the lack of action by Hamas to release about 240 hostages and the “scale of civilian casualties in Gaza”.
However, several shadow ministers have openly called for a ceasefire and tens of councillors have resigned from Labour over its refusal to back a permanent halt to the violence.
In the letter, Murray and Shanks wrote: “Keir Starmer and the shadow foreign secretary, David Lammy, have been clear – Israel must change the way it is fighting this war against Hamas by taking urgent and concrete steps to protect civilians.
“As Mr Lammy said in the House of Commons, Gaza is a humanitarian catastrophe and Gazans need aid now. They need medicine now; water now; food now; and they need fuel now.
“I’m sure, like us, you are horrified by the escalation of violence and want to see the international community redouble efforts to find a route to resolution.
“Labour’s amendment sets out what can realistically be achieved in the short term to halt the humanitarian crisis we are witnessing.
“We unequivocally condemn the attack and murder of civilians by Hamas and want an end to the violence in Israel and Palestine.”
A number of amendments demanding a total cessation of hostilities have been laid ahead of a Commons’ debate on the King’s Speech on Wednesday.
Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle will decide ahead of the debate what motions will be put to a vote.
A ceasefire amendment has been put forward by the SNP and another by a band of left-wing MPs, including former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, Green MP Caroline Lucas and Plaid Cymru’s Westminster leader Liz Saville-Roberts.
In a letter to MPs, Flynn wrote: “As Members of Parliament, it is also important to be crystal clear in terms of what failing to vote for a ceasefire means. Because by refusing to join the United Nations in pressing for an immediate ceasefire, Westminster would be disregarding international law, condoning collective punishment and giving the green light to the continued bombardment of Gaza, which has seen thousands of innocent children and civilians killed.
“People understand that the conflict in the Middle East is full of complexity. But amidst all that complexity, they also recognise a very human truth. People know that what we are all watching in Gaza is wrong and they want their MPs to do the right thing, show moral leadership and press for an immediate ceasefire.”
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