The past 137 days have seen an appalling terrorist attack on Israel and the taking of hostages followed by absolutely intolerable loss of life and a dire humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in Gaza.

I have repeatedly said that the long-term solution to this conflict will involve an end to the fighting and a political process towards two states.

However, despite the demands of the international community, calls for Israel to show restraint have fallen on deaf ears, the hostages taken by Hamas remain captive and rockets continue to be fired into Israel.

Despite the provisional measures ordered by the International Court of Justice, the flow of aid into Gaza remains unacceptably restricted, exacerbating the deepening humanitarian crisis. Meanwhile, the situation in the West Bank with the expansion of illegal settlements and settler violence has continued to worsen and the risks of regional escalation have grown.

Israel has threatened a ground offensive in Rafah. There is serious and growing international alarm at the prospect of this. Around 1.4 million displaced Palestinians are sheltering there with nowhere safe to go, having previously been told to flee there by the Israeli military.

Rafah is also the gateway for aid into Gaza, at a time when the humanitarian situation is already dire, and the UN says hundreds of thousands of people face starvation. Any intensive military offensive in Rafah risks catastrophic consequences for the civilian population and fatal disruption to the humanitarian operation. That offensive in Rafah must not go ahead and the fighting must stop now.

In line with this, Labour tabled a strong amendment setting out our position on the conflict which I put my name to and voted for.

My vote supported the following position:-

1. An Israeli ground offensive in Rafah must not take place and aid must reach those in need. An offensive in Rafah would have catastrophic humanitarian consequences for Palestinian civilians and must be averted. Civilians in Gaza need rapid and unimpeded humanitarian relief.

2. Hamas must release and return all hostages. The families of the remaining hostages are frozen in uncertainty, anguish and pain and their continued detention is prolonging this war. They should be released and returned immediately.

3. The government should join Labour’s calls for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire. Our call for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire aligns us with the position of key allies including Australia, Canada and New Zealand, and reflects the language used by the UN Secretary General and supported by more than 150 countries.

4. The UK Government should convene an urgent session of the UN Security Council to press this demand and to call for rapid and unimpeded humanitarian relief to be provided in Gaza.

5. For a ceasefire to hold, all parties must comply with its terms. One sided demands that do not recognise the need to ensure that an attack like October 7th cannot happen again or do not condemn Hamas terrorism will not succeed. Israel cannot be expected to cease fighting if Hamas continues with violence.

6. We support diplomatic mediation efforts to achieve a lasting ceasefire. We believe an immediate humanitarian ceasefire will make these efforts more likely to succeed.

7. Israel must comply with the ICJ ruling. The binding provisional measures issued by the court must be implemented in full.

8. Settlement expansion and settler violence must end. Settlements are illegal under international law and a serious barrier to peace that threaten the viability of a two-state solution. Settler violence has reached dangerous new levels since October 7th.

9. We need a political process towards a two-state solution, with a sovereign and viable Palestinian state alongside a safe and secure Israel. This is the only path to a just and lasting peace. A ceasefire with no political horizon will not be sustainable.

10. We support recognition of Palestine and are clear that this must be a contribution to, rather than outcome of, a two state solution. Statehood is the inalienable right of the Palestinian people and not in the gift of any neighbour.

Labour’s amendment addressed not only the need to stop the fighting now, but the pathway to stopping the fighting permanently.

The SNP motion had nothing to say about the long-term path to peace. It did not fully explain how a lasting ceasefire could be achieved and it failed to set out that this ceasefire must be fully observed by all sides. It made no mention of a two-state solution or Palestinian Statehood. It did not reference at all, the important ICJ ruling. For these reasons and more, I could not vote for the unamended SNP motion as it did not fully incorporate all the key issues outlined above.

The words we use on these issues matter a great deal. Our amendment was drafted so as to ensure that the whole of the House of Commons could coalesce around it and speak with one voice on this critical matter.

Labour's Amendment for an Immediate Humanitarian Ceasefire
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