The Scottish Parliament has passed a motion calling on the UK government to support an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and condemn the violence that has claimed hundreds of lives.
Cross-party support for peace
The motion, which was tabled by SNP MSP Sandra White, received cross-party support from Labour, the Greens, the Lib Dems and some Conservatives. It expressed solidarity with the Palestinian people and urged the UK to use its diplomatic influence to end the conflict.
The motion also called for the UK to recognise the state of Palestine and support the implementation of UN resolutions on the issue. It condemned the disproportionate use of force by Israel, the expansion of illegal settlements and the blockade of Gaza.
The motion stated: “That the Parliament expresses its deep concern at the escalating violence in Israel and Palestine, which has resulted in the deaths of over 200 Palestinians, including 61 children, and 10 Israelis, including two children; condemns the indiscriminate rocket attacks by Hamas and other militant groups on Israeli civilians, and the disproportionate and illegal use of force by the Israeli military on Palestinian civilians, including airstrikes on densely populated areas, the destruction of media offices and medical facilities, and the forced evictions of Palestinians from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah and other neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem; calls on both sides to respect international humanitarian law and human rights, and to refrain from any actions that could escalate the situation further; supports the calls by the UN Secretary-General, the EU High Representative and others for an immediate ceasefire and a resumption of dialogue; urges the UK Government to use its diplomatic influence and its seat on the UN Security Council to support a peaceful resolution of the conflict, based on the recognition of the rights of both peoples to self-determination, security and dignity within the framework of a two-state solution; further urges the UK Government to recognise the state of Palestine, as the Parliament and 138 other countries have done, and to support the implementation of UN resolutions on the issue; expresses its solidarity with the Palestinian people, who have been living under occupation and oppression for decades, and with all those who are working for peace and justice in the region; and believes that a lasting peace can only be achieved through dialogue, respect for human rights and international law, and a just and fair solution that addresses the root causes of the conflict.”
MSPs speak out against violence
Several MSPs spoke in favour of the motion, highlighting the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and the need for a political solution. They also criticised the UK government’s abstention from a UN General Assembly resolution that called for a ceasefire and the protection of civilians.
Sandra White, who represents Glasgow Kelvin, said: “The situation in Gaza is a humanitarian catastrophe, with innocent civilians, especially children, paying the highest price. The UK Government’s abstention from the UN resolution was shameful and showed a lack of moral leadership. The Scottish Parliament has a duty to speak out against this injustice and to call for an end to the violence and the occupation.”
Anas Sarwar, the leader of Scottish Labour, said: “This is not a conflict between two equal sides, but a brutal occupation that has denied the Palestinian people their basic rights and dignity for generations. The UK Government must stop hiding behind platitudes and take a clear stand for peace and justice. We must support a ceasefire, an end to the illegal settlements and the blockade of Gaza, and a viable two-state solution that respects the rights of both Palestinians and Israelis.”
Patrick Harvie, the co-leader of the Scottish Greens, said: “The images and reports from Gaza are heartbreaking and horrifying. The international community cannot stand by and watch as innocent people are killed and injured, and as vital infrastructure is destroyed. The UK Government must join the majority of the world in calling for a ceasefire and condemning the disproportionate and unlawful actions of the Israeli military. We must also challenge the complicity of the UK in supplying arms and equipment to Israel, and demand an end to the trade that fuels the oppression of the Palestinian people.”
Willie Rennie, the leader of the Scottish Lib Dems, said: “The violence and suffering in Gaza and Israel is appalling and must stop. The UK Government has a responsibility to use its influence and its role on the UN Security Council to support a ceasefire and a diplomatic solution. We must also recognise the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people for statehood and self-determination, and support the efforts of civil society and human rights organisations to promote dialogue and reconciliation.”
Scottish Government’s response
The Scottish Government’s Minister for External Affairs, Angus Robertson, welcomed the motion and said that the Scottish Government shared the concerns and sentiments of the Parliament. He said that the Scottish Government had written to the UK Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, to urge him to support a ceasefire and to recognise the state of Palestine.
He said: “The Scottish Government is deeply alarmed by the escalation of violence in Gaza and Israel, and the devastating impact on civilians, especially children. We condemn the indiscriminate rocket attacks by Hamas and other groups, and the excessive and illegal use of force by the Israeli military. We call on both sides to respect international law and human rights, and to cease hostilities immediately.”
He added: “The Scottish Government supports a two-state solution that guarantees the security and dignity of both Palestinians and Israelis. We believe that the UK Government should recognise the state of Palestine, as this Parliament and many other countries have done, and to support the implementation of UN resolutions on the issue. We also believe that the UK Government should review its arms exports to Israel, and ensure that they are not used in violation of international law or human rights.”
He concluded: “The Scottish Government stands in solidarity with the Palestinian people, who have endured decades of occupation and oppression, and with all those who are working for peace and justice in the region. We will continue to engage with the UK Government, the international community and civil society to support a peaceful resolution of the conflict, and to provide humanitarian assistance to those in need.”