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Commons vote will not pave the way to Gaza ceasefire, says Lammy

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Diplomatic negotiations rather than a vote in the UK parliament will pave the way towards a lasting ceasefire in Gaza, Labour’s shadow foreign secretary David Lammy has said.

On Sunday, Lammy sought to downplay the significance of a fresh motion laid by the Scottish National party calling for an “immediate ceasefire” in Gaza, after the death toll from Israel’s offensive rose to more than 28,000, according to Palestinian officials.

The motion has sparked jitters in Labour circles after a similar parliamentary gambit by the SNP last November sparked a major rebellion in Sir Keir Starmer’s party. Ten Labour frontbenchers and an additional 46 Labour MPs defied the instruction from party whips to abstain in order to vote for an immediate ceasefire.

Starmer has repeatedly called for a “sustainable” ceasefire, echoing language used by the UK government, but has avoided demanding an “immediate” ceasefire, insisting certain criteria must be met by both Hamas and Israel.

Lammy on Sunday told the BBC’s Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg “we all want to see an end to the fighting” in Gaza but stopped short of signalling Labour would back the SNP’s motion.

He indicated that a lasting ceasefire was more important to achieve than a swift pact. “Of course people want to see a ceasefire. The question now is how and to be absolutely clear that when that ceasefire comes, we can’t see the fighting restart,” he said.

Speaking from the Munich Security Conference, Lammy highlighted that he and Starmer had used their attendance at the global gathering to talk to key figures involved in the Middle East negotiations, including from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other European nations.

Contrasting the importance of diplomatic efforts with moves by the House of Commons, Lammy said: “Yes, we will have a vote in parliament this week. But it’s not that vote that will bring about a ceasefire, it’s the diplomatic action. It’s Hamas, it’s [Israeli Prime Minister] Benjamin Netanyahu, it’s partners for peace saying the fighting must now stop.”

However, Starmer has faced mounting pressure this weekend after Scottish Labour backed a motion demanding an “immediate ceasefire” at its conference on Saturday. Delegates at the meeting in Glasgow gave the motion their unanimous support.

Anas Sarwar, Scottish Labour leader, told the Sky News Sunday Morning with Trevor Phillips programme that the motion backed by his arm of Labour on Saturday was not a call for a “unilateral” ceasefire.

“A ceasefire means the end of violence and rocket fire in Gaza, but also absolutely has to mean an end to rocket fire coming out of Gaza. It also includes the immediate release of hostages . . . alongside humanitarian aid needing to get in and the pathway to a two-state solution,” he said.

Sarwar sought to minimise the split with Starmer, saying “I actually don’t think there is much difference” between the position of Scottish Labour and UK Labour on the Israel-Hamas conflict.

However, in an awkward development for relations between the two leaders, Sarwar drew attention to other areas where he disagreed with Starmer, citing his support for workers on picket lines and his call for a swift removal of the two-child benefit cap if the party wins the next election.

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