Ceasefire in Gaza: SNP Opposition Day 21 February 2024

I have received a number of emails about the SNP opposition day debate on Wednesday 21 February 2024. I want to start by explaining the procedure that took place that evening. The Opposition parties are allocated Opposition Days which means the Opposition can choose their debate. As it was the SNP Opposition day, the usual procedure means the SNP motion would be taken and voted for first. Unusually and against the advice of the Clerk of the House,  Mr Speaker chose to put the Labour Party motion first and the Government and SNP chose not to vote against it and so it passed. I am setting out the motions below. I would have voted for both the SNP and the Labour motions if they had both been put to the House. Only the Labour motion was put to the House.      

The SNP Motion was as follows but was not put to the vote:
“That this House calls for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and Israel; notes with shock and distress that the death toll has now risen beyond 28,000, the vast majority of whom were women and children; further notes that there are currently 1.5 million Palestinians sheltering in Rafah, 610,000 of whom are children; also notes that they have nowhere else to go; condemns any military assault on what is now the largest refugee camp in the world; further calls for the immediate release of all hostages taken by Hamas and an end to the collective punishment of the Palestinian people; and recognises that the only way to stop the slaughter of innocent civilians is to press for a ceasefire now.”

This was HM Opposition labour Party Motion which was not voted against and so it passed:
“That this House believes that an Israeli ground offensive in Rafah risks catastrophic humanitarian consequences and therefore must not take place; notes the intolerable loss of Palestinian life, the majority being women and children; condemns the terrorism of Hamas who continue to hold hostages; supports Australia, Canada and New Zealand’s calls for Hamas to release and return all hostages and for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, which means an immediate stop to the fighting and a ceasefire that lasts and is observed by all sides, noting that Israel cannot be expected to cease fighting if Hamas continues with violence and that Israelis have the right to the assurance that the horror of 7th October cannot happen again; therefore supports diplomatic mediation efforts to achieve a lasting ceasefire; demands that rapid and unimpeded humanitarian relief is provided in Gaza; demands an end to settlement expansion and violence; urges Israel to comply with the International Court of Justice’s provisional measures; calls for the UN Security Council to be meet urgently; and urges all international partners to work together to establish a diplomatic process to deliver the peace of a two-state solution, with a safe and secure Israel alongside a viable Palestinian state, including working with international partners to recognise a Palestinian state as a contribution to rather than outcome of that process, because statehood is the inalienable right of the Palestinian people and not in the gift of any neighbour.”

As you know, I called for a ceasefire publicly on the 27 October 2023 by video and when I appeared on the Sunday Politics Midlands Show which was broadcast on 29 October 2023.  

When the first opportunity arose to vote in Parliament for a ceasefire, I spoke on 15 November 2023 during the King’s Speech debate and I voted for an immediate ceasefire.

The Conservative Government voted against this motion.  Even though this vote was lost, we sent our message to the people of Gaza and the international community that there are British parliamentarians calling for an immediate ceasefire.

I signed the Early Day Motion 1 tabled on the 7 November 2023 and Early Day Motion 177. I have heard directly from a doctor when I attended a meeting where Dr Ghassan Abu-Sittah spoke about his work at the Shifa Hospital. He said of the 50,000 who were wounded, 70% still need help and everyday is worse than the day before.

Last week I attended a meeting with NGO’s such as International Rescue Medical Aid, Action Aid, and Oxfam who said that the basic needs of food, water and medicine are being denied. They said that the air drops are not efficient.

I have also heard from the Palestinian Ambassador to the UK Dr Husum Zomlot who frequently updates MPs about the situation. He has recently lost members of his family in Gaza.   

I will continue to press for an immediate and permanent ceasefire, release of all hostages and a just and lasting peaceful future for the Palestinian people in their own independent state and I will continue to use my voice to call, unequivocally, for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire to end the bloodshed and suffering and to allow a sustained effort to salvage the hope of a two-state solution.