Scottish Labour conference backs ‘unequivocal’ Gaza ceasefire motion

Scottish Labour delegates have backed calls for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza after party MSPs called for “unequivocal” support.

The party’s conference held in Glasgow unanimously backed Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar’s calls for an immediate end to the Israel-Hamas conflict.

It comes as the two Scottish Labour MPs face growing pressure to back a ceasefire vote being held by Westminster next week, with SNP MPs urging Mr Sarwar to whip Michael Shanks and Ian Murray to side with the SNP.

The motion passed by the party’s conference passed unopposed and urges an end to rocket fire into and out of Gaza, the unconditional release of hostages taken by Hamas, the restoration of essential supplies and a pathway to peace.

But the motion said there was “no justification for the collective punishment of 2.2 million citizens in Gaza”.

The conflict was debated during the second day of the Scottish Labour conference, with Neil Bibby, the party’s constitution spokesman, urging delegates to back the motion ahead of the vote.

He said: “We believe every life matters, here in Scotland and in Ukraine, Gaza and in Israel.

“Every state, including Israel, has the right to defend itself and its people, not least from indiscriminate terrorist attacks.

“The remaining hostages taken on October 7 must be released by Hamas. However, every state has a responsibility to exercise restraint in response.

“We would expect this of the British Government and our armed forces. We should expect this of Israel too.”

He added: “It is simply heartbreaking that countless children in Gaza are currently dying, and there are heartbroken parents in Israel too.

“That is why we have a moral obligation to be unequivocal.

“There must be an end to the fighting now and a sustainable ceasefire. An end to the terror and end to the violence.

“Today, I hope the motion before us which calls for a ceasefire and reaffirms our support for a two-state solution with a safe and secure Israel alongside a safe, secure and viable Palestinian state.

“Only that will deliver a sustainable and lasting peace.”

Meanwhile, Pauline McNeill, justice spokeswoman, said she had witnessed the hardship facing Palestinians during her six visits to the region.

She said: “While the eyes are on Gaza, and rightly so, do not forgot that the Palestinians are one nation and illegal occupation – the 56-year-long occupation where Palestinians are dehumanised and kicked out of their homes – has to end.”

The issue is due to be tabled in the Commons next week, with the SNP leading a motion calling for an urgent ceasefire.

The move was a significant rebellion for leader Sir Keir 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 Mr Sarwar to whip Scotland’s two Labour MPs to vote in favour of a ceasefire.

The SNP’s Westminster leader, Stephen Flynn, said: “It’s time for Sir Keir Starmer to commit to supporting our motion for an immediate ceasefire. There can be no more delays.

“Thousands of children, women and civilians have lost their life since both the Tories and Labour cowardly rejected our last motion – they cannot make that same mistake again.

“History will remember this vote.

“Questions must also be asked of Scotland’s two Labour MPs. Will they follow their Scottish leader, or their leader in London? That decision will tell you exactly where Scottish Labour MPs’ loyalties truly lie.

“With each day Sir Keir Starmer equivocates, the more innocent civilians die. This has to end – and end now.”

A delegate from North Ayrshire, Nairn McDonald, told conference that Sir Keir must stop “equivocating”, before adding: “We demand that Scottish Labour MPs vote for a ceasefire in the Commons when they are given the opportunity.”

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