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MSPs to back Israel-Gaza ceasefire in Holyrood vote

Labour and the SNP are backing the call, but the parties have clashed over a proposed amendment.

Image source, Getty Images

MSPs are set to back calls for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

Scottish Labour says it will support an SNP motion at Holryood despite a row between the parties over a proposed amendment from Anas Sarwar’s party.

While backing the SNP call for an “immediate humanitarian ceasefire”, the Labour amendment notes it will require “all sides to comply” for it to work.

Labour said it would strengthen the motion, whereas the SNP suggested it would be weakened.

The SNP motion, submitted by First Minister Humza Yousaf, says the parliament condemns the”barbaric and unjustifiable terrorist attacks” by Hamas on 7 October and the killing of civilians, including women and children, in Israel’s siege of Gaza.

It calls for hostages to be released, increased humanitarian aid, international law to be upheld and a two-state peace solution.

The motion also expresses “solidarity with Scotland’s Jewish, Muslim and Palestinian communities and condemns antisemitism, Islamophobia or any other form of hatred”.

The Labour amendment adds to the statement that the parliament is “horrified” by the reported Hamas statement that it would repeat the 7 October attacks and continue rocket fire into Israel.

Image source, Getty Images

It expresses regret that Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would not consider a ceasefire.

The amendment “therefore calls on the international community to use every form of diplomacy to try and create the conditions on the ground to make a ceasefire a reality”.

It also calls on the International Criminal Court to investigate both sides of the conflict.

Ahead of the Holyrood vote, Mr Yousaf urged Labour not to “water down” the motion.

“This is a time for all of us to show leadership in the face of this humanitarian catastrophe,” he said.

“Anas Sarwar must stand firm and back an immediate ceasefire. The motion reflects his own public position on the issue.”

A Scottish Labour spokesman described Mr Yousaf’s comments as “profoundly disappointing”.

“Despite agreement between Labour and the SNP on both the motion calling for an immediate ceasefire and the Labour amendment which goes further, the SNP have now indicated they want to play petty politics with this issue instead,” he said.

“The SNP press office should retract this shameful attack which tarnishes the work both parties have done behind the scenes on this important issue.”

The Scottish Greens said they would back the motion.

The party’s external affairs spokesperson, Ross Greer, said: “I hope that our parliament will show the moral and political leadership that has been lacking in Westminster and that every MSP who cares about the rights and lives of Palestinians shows the courage of their convictions by backing the first minister’s motion.”

Image source, Getty Images

With Scottish Labour backing a ceasefire, the party is at odds with UK Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, who favours a “humanitarian pauses”.

Compared with a formal ceasefire, these pauses tend to last for short periods of time, sometimes just a few hours.

Sir Keir has argued that a ceasefire would not be appropriate, because it would freeze the conflict and embolden Hamas.

The Labour leader saw 56 of his MPs rebel last week as they backed an SNP motion calling for an immediate ceasefire. Both Scottish Labour MPs, Ian Murray and Michael Shanks, abstained.

Mr Sarwar told BBC Scotland’s Sunday Show that he would have liked Labour’s amendment to the SNP motion in the Commons vote “to go further … and include that call for a ceasefire”.

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