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Keir Starmer is facing increased pressure regarding his position on the Israel-Hamas conflict, as Labour’s London mayor Sadiq Khan, Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham, and the party’s leader in Scotland have all publicly called for a ceasefire.
The three individuals are the highest-ranking members of the Labour party to oppose their leader’s stance on Gaza.
However, around 49 Labour MPs, which is approximately 25% of the 199 members of parliament from the Labour party, have gone against the leader’s stance and openly advocated for a ceasefire in Gaza.
The party’s Members of Parliament have also received security guidance, as they face scrutiny from their constituents regarding Sir Keir’s statements on the conflict.
Mr Khan declared his support for the rebels on Twitter, stating that the ongoing conflict between Israel and Gaza has resulted in the deaths of countless innocent civilians. He also urged for a ceasefire in order to prevent the humanitarian crisis from worsening.
The mayor of London, representing the Labour party, stated in a video that a ceasefire would put an end to the violence and enable necessary aid to be delivered to those in need in Gaza.
In a video shared on social media, Mr Sarwar urged for a halt in fighting, expressing a strong desire for peace and an end to the violence. He called for an immediate ceasefire, specifically in regards to the rocket attacks being exchanged between Gaza and other areas. He emphasized the need for a ceasefire to be implemented immediately.
Sir Keir and Rishi Sunak both support “humanitarian pauses” in order to provide aid to Gaza during the ongoing Israeli airstrikes. However, Sir Keir has not expressed support for a more permanent ceasefire.
The leader of the Labour party is currently attempting to alleviate tensions within the party regarding his apparent support for the reduction of resources in Gaza during an LBC interview, which took place shortly after a terrorist attack by Hamas.
Mr. Khan is known to have spoken with Sir Keir prior to his decision to call for a ceasefire.
Steve Reed, a member of the Labour frontbench, stood up for Sir Keir’s stance on Friday. He emphasized that doing what is morally correct should take precedence over concerns about gaining votes.
When questioned about the potential consequences of the situation on voting decisions, the opposition’s environmental spokesperson stated during an LBC interview: “I do not believe it will have an effect because, in politics, one should prioritize doing what is ethical rather than what is beneficial for elections.”
However, senior Labour MP Rosena Allin-Khan, who previously served as the shadow minister for mental health, added to the mounting pressure for Sir Keir to call for a ceasefire.
“Of course Israel has the right to defend itself … But what we are seeing in retaliation is collective punishment of the Palestinian people,” she told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. Mr Khan is thought to have spoken to Sir Keir before releasing his video. Mr Anas has also talked to the Labour leader a number of times this week.
The Labour Party spokesperson responded in a seemingly conciliatory manner, stating that they understand the desire for a ceasefire. They acknowledge that the Palestinian people are not synonymous with Hamas and are facing great suffering. As a result, they advocate for humanitarian breaks in fighting to allow for urgent delivery of aid, fuel, water, electricity, and medicines to those in need.
It’s important to acknowledge that Israel was the target of a terrible terrorist attack. As a result, Israel has the responsibility and the authorization to protect itself, free the hostages, and prevent Hamas from launching similar attacks in the future.
Hamas is currently launching rockets towards Israel and has also constructed tunnels to facilitate future attacks. As a result, there is an ongoing military operation. However, it is essential that this operation follows international law and allows for prompt, secure, and consistent aid delivery to prevent a humanitarian crisis.
The situation escalated when Alan Campbell, Labour’s chief whip, sent a letter to the party’s MPs offering security guidance. In light of the Gaza conflict, Mr. Campbell advised Labour MPs to be particularly cautious if attending any protests or demonstrations.
Approximately 40 Members of Parliament from the Labour party are thought to have endorsed a motion put forth by Imran Hussain, a representative from Bradford East, which urges for a halt in hostilities. Additionally, there are several others who have expressed their support for a ceasefire.
Over 250 Labour councillors who are Muslim have called on Sir Keir and deputy leader Angela Rayner to support a prompt end to the conflict in Gaza. His initial remarks on LBC have also resulted in resignations from multiple councillors.
According to The Times, there are up to four members of the shadow cabinet who may resign over the issue. Sarah Owen, the shadow minister for faith, and Rachel Hopkins, shadow Cabinet Office minister, are two of the frontbenchers who are deliberating whether to step down.
Labour spokesperson did not comment on whether Frontbencher Yasmin Qureshi, a shadow equalities minister, would face any consequences for breaking ranks and advocating for a ceasefire during PMQs this week.
Sir Keir was obliged to engage in urgent discussions with a coalition of Muslim Labour Members of Parliament to address frustration surrounding his management of the crisis. This includes statements in which he seemed to support the cessation of electricity and water supply to Gaza.
He did not clarify his position until 20 October. He explained to broadcasters, “I believe Israel has the right to self-defense, but I did not mean that they have the right to withhold essential resources like water, food, fuel, or medicine.”
A seasoned politician from the Labour party expressed to The Independent that Sir Keir’s initial statements on the conflict were “unacceptable,” but acknowledged that he may not have fully realized his error.
The South Wales Islamic Centre claimed that Sir Keir misrepresented his discussions with Muslim leaders when he visited the mosque over the weekend.
The meeting was documented on X by the Labour leader, causing annoyance as he stated that he never believed that Israel had the authority to withhold resources such as water, food, fuel, or medicine.