Keir Starmer faces increasing demands to urge for a halt in violence between Israel and Hamas, with two prominent Muslim Labour leaders stating that this is the most effective means of preventing further avoidable fatalities.
The leader of the Scottish Labour party, Anas Sarwar, stated that there must be a prompt end to the use of force, with certain requirements in place. This statement was made shortly after London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, emphasized the importance of a ceasefire in order to prevent a significant increase in military actions.
It is not thought that the actions were coordinated, but they may lead to other well-known Labour politicians publicly endorsing the push for reducing tensions in Gaza.
Starmer has rejected pleas from numerous Labour members of Parliament – including multiple frontbenchers – to back a ceasefire, but Sarwar and Khan’s involvement will bring renewed attention to his stance.
Sarwar supported the action with stipulations, which included stopping rocket exchanges and freeing all hostages taken by Hamas on October 7th.
“We must establish a thorough peace procedure, as there is currently neither peace nor a process in place. This is the only solution for creating a secure and liberated Palestine and Israel,” stated Sarwar in a video uploaded on X, formerly referred to as Twitter.
The individual stated that refusing to provide necessary resources, such as food, water, and medicine, is a violation of international law and also commented, “These are difficult times.”
Earlier Friday morning, Khan posted a video expressing his desire to “unite with the global community in advocating for a ceasefire.”
The UK and US governments have opposed a complete ceasefire and instead advocate for temporary pauses at specific times and locations to facilitate aid delivery to those in dire need. The Labour party has followed the Foreign Office’s lead in an effort to demonstrate bipartisan cooperation.
According to Khan, Israel has the right to protect itself, take action against those responsible for the October 7th terror attack, and attempt to rescue hostages. However, he also stated that no country, including Israel, has the authority to violate international law.
Many members of the Labour party, including a large number of councillors and approximately 25% of MPs, have backed a call for a ceasefire. The party is divided over whether to express a more nuanced and careful stance towards Israel.
Ian Austin, an independent peer and the prime minister’s trade envoy to Israel, took to Twitter on Friday to criticize Sadiq Khan. Austin stated that Khan is unable to address the issue of children killing each other on the streets of London, yet believes he can offer valuable insight on the highly complex and challenging conflict in the world.
Party sources have revealed that certain Labour members in leadership positions have been closely monitored for potential resignations ever since Starmer sparked backlash with his remarks on LBC radio two weeks ago. However, insiders within the party suggest that resignations may not be necessary in order to voice dissent.
According to multiple sources, the actions of Khan and Sarawar have provided a means for frontbench Members of Parliament to indirectly criticize the party’s policies.
The education secretary, Gillian Keegan, stated on Friday the reasoning behind the government’s decision to not fully support a ceasefire. She expressed that the UK does not wish to interfere with Israel’s right to defend itself.
She stated that Hamas is responsible for creating this situation and is currently infiltrating the Palestinian community.