UK’s Starmer calls for a ‘ceasefire that lasts’ in Israel’s war on Gaza

Opposition leader’s comments come before a Parliament debate on a motion urging an immediate truce in Gaza.

UK's main opposition Labour Party leader Keir Starmer speaks on the third day of the Scottish Labour Party Conference in Glasgow
UK's Labour Party leader Keir Starmer speaks on the third day of the Scottish Labour Party Conference in Glasgow [Andy Buchanan/AFP]

British Labour Party leader Keir Starmer has said a ceasefire that lasts “must happen now” between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

The opposition leader’s comments, at a Scottish Labour Party conference in Glasgow, came on Sunday as he faces renewed pressure to back an “immediate ceasefire” in a conflict that has killed about 29,000 Palestinians.

An additional 1,139 people in Israel died in Hamas-led attacks on October 7.

Starmer has previously refused to back calls for an immediate truce, saying instead that he wanted a “sustainable” end to the conflict.

The issue has caused divisions in the Labour Party, with nearly a third of its legislators defying Starmer last year to support calls for an immediate ceasefire.

“I have just returned from the Munich security conference, where every conversation I had came back to the situation in Israel and Gaza and the question of what we can do practically to deliver what we all want to see – a return of all the hostages taken on 7 October, an end to the killing of innocent Palestinians, a huge scaling-up of humanitarian relief and an end to the fighting,” Starmer said.

“What we all want to see … [is] an end to the fighting not just now, not just for a pause, but permanently. A ceasefire that lasts … that is what must happen now.”

He added that any ceasefire could not be one-sided and warned Israel against launching its planned offensive in the city of Rafah, where more than a million Palestinians have sought refuge.

Starmer’s comments come before a Scottish National Party (SNP)-led vote in the British Parliament on a motion urging an immediate ceasefire. The vote is expected on Wednesday.

Starmer’s foreign policy chief David Lammy has said the Labour Party would examine the SNP motion before making a decision.

The Scottish Labour conference on Saturday meanwhile voted in favour of such a measure, with Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar saying in a post on X that he was “proud” the conference had passed the motion.

According to the Guardian newspaper, Sarwar has suggested he was willing to work with the SNP, describing its motion as “pretty decent”.

“If we can send a unified message from the UK parliament, then we should take that opportunity and I hope people will engage in good faith in trying to find that unified position,” he was quoted as saying.

Israel’s attacks on Gaza have killed at least 28,985 Palestinians and wounded 68,883 since October 7, according to the Ministry of Health in Gaza. Several thousand more are missing, presumably buried under rubble.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies