Scottish Parliament urges UK government to support Gaza ceasefire

The Scottish Parliament has passed a motion calling on the UK government to support a ceasefire in Gaza and condemn the violence that has killed more than 200 people, mostly Palestinians, in the past week. The motion, which was backed by all parties except the Conservatives, also expressed solidarity with the Palestinian people and urged the UK to recognise Palestine as a state.

Cross-party support for motion

The motion was brought forward by the Scottish National Party (SNP), which leads the Scottish government, and was co-signed by the Scottish Greens, Labour and Liberal Democrats. It stated that the Parliament “unequivocally condemns the killing of innocent civilians in Gaza and Israel” and “calls for an immediate end to all violence and for both sides to respect international humanitarian law”.

The motion also called on the UK government to “use its influence to urge Israel to halt the expansion of illegal settlements, end the occupation of Palestinian territories and agree to a viable two-state solution”. It further urged the UK to “recognise the state of Palestine at the earliest opportunity, as over 130 countries have already done”.

The motion was debated in the Parliament on Tuesday, with speakers from different parties expressing their views on the conflict and the role of the UK. The SNP’s External Affairs Secretary Angus Robertson said that the UK had a “moral and legal responsibility” to act as a “force for peace” in the region and criticised the UK government for its “silence and inaction” on the issue.

Scottish Parliament urges UK government to support Gaza ceasefire

The Scottish Greens’ co-leader Patrick Harvie said that the motion was a “clear and united message” from the Scottish Parliament and that the UK government should “listen to the voices of the people of Scotland and the international community”. He also called for an end to the UK’s arms sales to Israel, which he said were “fuelling the cycle of violence and oppression”.

The Labour’s Anas Sarwar, who is the first Muslim leader of a major political party in the UK, said that he was “proud” to support the motion and that the Parliament was “speaking with one voice” on the matter. He said that the conflict was not a “religious war” but a “humanitarian crisis” and that the UK should “stand up for human rights and international law”.

The Liberal Democrats’ Alex Cole-Hamilton said that the motion was a “powerful statement of solidarity” with the Palestinian people and that the UK should “play a constructive role” in the peace process. He said that the UK should “use its diplomatic clout” to pressure both sides to end the violence and resume negotiations.

Conservative opposition to motion

The only party that did not support the motion was the Conservatives, who said that the motion was “unbalanced” and “one-sided” and that it did not reflect the “complexity and nuance” of the situation. The Conservatives’ Foreign Affairs spokesperson Murdo Fraser said that the motion was “divisive and inflammatory” and that it failed to acknowledge the “right of Israel to defend itself” from the rocket attacks by Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza.

Fraser said that the Conservatives condemned the loss of civilian lives on both sides and that they supported a “sustainable and durable” ceasefire. He said that the UK should “work with our allies” to facilitate a “political dialogue” between Israel and the Palestinians and to “address the underlying causes” of the conflict.

The motion was passed by 87 votes to 32, with the Conservatives voting against and four MSPs abstaining. The motion is not legally binding, but it reflects the opinion of the Scottish Parliament and puts pressure on the UK government to take action on the issue.

By Ishan Crawford

Prior to the position, Ishan was senior vice president, strategy & development for Cumbernauld-media Company since April 2013. He joined the Company in 2004 and has served in several corporate developments, business development and strategic planning roles for three chief executives. During that time, he helped transform the Company from a traditional U.S. media conglomerate into a global digital subscription service, unified by the journalism and brand of Cumbernauld-media.

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