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Labour split as Scottish leader Anas Sarwar backs ceasefire – and takes swipe at Netanyahu

NewsLabour split as Scottish leader Anas Sarwar backs ceasefire - and takes swipe at Netanyahu

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer is facing yet another headache over his handling of the Israel-Hamas conflict after Anas Sarwar, the party’s Scottish leader, announced he and his colleagues will back a ceasefire.

Sir Keir has been under intense pressure in recent days after 56 Labour MPs at Westminster voted for a Gaza ceasefire motion last week.

And now Mr Sarwar has put the cat among the pigeons by confirming Scottish Labour MSPs would do likewise.

In a video shared on X, formerly Twitter, Mr Sarwar said: “This week in the Scottish Parliament, Scottish Labour will support a ceasefire in the Middle East.

“I want to explain why, and what I believe needs to happen to make it a reality.

“We’ve all felt so heartbroken and distressed, looking at the scenes of death and destruction and the loss of innocent life.

“If we are to see peace in every life, whether that Israeli or Palestinian must be seen as equal, every Jewish, Muslim and Christian life seen as equal.”

For a ceasefire to happen, there must be an immediate release of hostages and immediate access to humanitarian aid, like water, food, medicine and fuel in the Gaza Strip, Mr Sarwar stressed.

He continued: “We need to see an end to rocket fire going out of and into Gaza and that means a ceasefire great now, and it requires a pathway to a peace process.

“Because right now we have no peace, and we have no process.”

In calling for a ceasefire, Mr Sarwar also recognised it would only be possible if both sides were willing to comply.

He continued: “And right now we have Hamas a terror organisation, saying they would repeat the attacks of seventh of October, and that they will continue to fire rockets.

“And you have an Israeli government, led by Benjamin Netanyahu, who says he has no interest in even considering a ceasefire.”

Mr Sarwar said: “The Palestinian people are not Hamas and I believe these really people aren’t the right-wing Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu either.

“If we are to see a ceasefire, then that will require internet diplomacy to change the conditions on the ground so we can make that ceasefire our reality

“Because only when every life is seen as equal, will we see peace, the peace and the security that the people of Palestine and Israel so desperately demand and so desperately need.”

Shadow foreign secretary David Lammy is making Labour’s first visit to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories since Hamas’s atrocity sparked a full-scale war.

Sir Keir has been battling a rift in his party, with eight frontbenchers having resigned to defy his position and vote in the Commons to support a ceasefire. London Mayor Sadiq Khan has also backed the proposal.

Speaking in Israel, Mr Lammy criticised the international allies for failing to realise the threat posed by Hamas ahead of the October 7 bloodshed.

He urged them to “learn the lessons of decades of failure to resolve this conflict”.

He said political leaders have been complacently “content with the delusions of wishful thinking” while failing to work for a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine.

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