Labour: SNP playing 'Punch and Judy politics' with Gaza ceasefire vote

Scottish Labour's deputy leader Jackie Baillie accused the SNP of 'game-playing' on the Israel-Hamas war.

Scottish Labour: SNP playing ‘Punch and Judy politics’ with Gaza ceasefire vote Getty Images

Scottish Labour has accused the SNP of “Punch and Judy politics” for its plans to hold a vote calling for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.

A motion urging both sides to stop fighting could happen in the House of Commons on Wednesday after the SNP tabled an amendment to the King’s speech.

It calls on the UK Government to “join with the international community in urgently pressing all parties to agree to an immediate ceasefire”.

Anas Sarwar has backed calls for a ceasefire in the region in contrast to Keir Starmer who has seen dozens of party officials quit over his stance on the issue.

The UK Labour leader said he would prefer to see “humanitarian pauses” to allow aid into Gaza, which Israel said it has started doing.

Speaking on Tuesday, Scottish Labour’s deputy leader Jackie Baillie accused the SNP of “game-playing”.

She told the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme: “Any ceasefire needs to be thought through, it needs to be conditional on Hamas releasing all hostages.

“I talk about whether it’s a humanitarian pause or a ceasefire – for me it’s the same thing.

“I would like to see, as my leader Anas Sarwar has said, a ceasefire. I would like to see humanitarian pauses.

“You cannot watch premature babies dying in hospitals because there’s no electricity to power incubators and then start the kind of game-playing the SNP is engaged in.

“This is far too serious. We need serious heads considering how we stop the conflict and how we find a lasting solution for Israel and Palestine.”

Former Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard urged Labour’s MPs to vote with the SNP on the peace motion.

But pressed on whether Scottish Labour MPs would vote for the ceasefire, Baillie said: “Look, I am not in the Commons, the position is incredibly clear. I have to say the focus should be on what will actually help the people in Palestine and Israel.

“The situation is too complex and serious and important for the kind of Punch and Judy politics you want to engage in.”

First Minister Humza Yousaf has continued to call for a ceasefire throughout the conflict.

His in-laws, from Dundee, were trapped in Gaza for a month after the conflict erupted following Hamas’s attack on Israel that killed more than 1,400 and took more than 240 hostage.

According to Palestine’s health ministry, run by Hamas, more than 11,000 people have been killed, with more than 4,500 of them children.

Another 200,000 people have fled northern Gaza since November 5, the UN humanitarian office has said, as Israeli ground forces battle Palestinian militants around hospitals where patients, newborn babies and medics are stranded with no electricity and dwindling supplies.

The humanitarian office, known as Ocha, said only one hospital in the north is capable of receiving patients.

All the others are no longer able to function and mostly serve as shelters from the fighting, including Gaza’s largest, Shifa, which is surrounded by Israeli troops and where 36 babies are at risk of dying because there is no power for incubators.

UN-run shelters in the south are severely overcrowded, with an average of one toilet for 160 people. In all, some 1.5 million Palestinians – more than two-thirds of Gaza’s population – have fled their homes.

International calls for a humanitarian pause have intensified since the fighting around the Gaza hospital.

American president Joe Biden said the hospital must be protected while Rishi Sunak urged Israel to do all it can to protect civilians.

Israel accuses Hams of running a command centre under the hospital, which the group denies.

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