Scottish Labour delegates have backed Anas Sarwar's calls for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza as pressure mounts for Sir Keir Starmer to do so. 

The party’s conference held at Glasgow's SEC unanimously supported the Scottish Labour leader's motion for an immediate end to the Israel-Hamas conflict.

It comes as the two Scottish Labour MPs face growing pressure to back a ceasefire vote being held by Westminster next week – with SNP MPs urging Mr Sarwar to whip Michael Shanks and Ian Murray to side with the SNP.

Read more: Protesters to march on Scottish Labour conference calling for Gaza ceasefire

The motion was passed by the party’s conference unopposed and urges an end to rocket fire into and out of Gaza, the unconditional release of hostages taken by Hamas, the restoration of essential supplies and a pathway to peace.

It condemned the Hamas attacks on Israel on October 7 2023 and noted Israel’s right to protect its citizens, but said there was “no justification for the collective punishment of 2.2 million citizens in Gaza”.

The Herald: Anas Sarwar at the Scottish Labour conference at Glasgow SECAnas Sarwar at the Scottish Labour conference at Glasgow SEC (Image: Gordon Terris)

The conflict was debated during the second day of the Scottish Labour conference on Saturday (February 17), with Neil Bibby, the party’s constitution spokesman, urging delegates to back the motion ahead of the vote.

He said: “We believe every life matters, here in Scotland and in Ukraine, Gaza and in Israel.

“Every state, including Israel, has the right to defend itself and its people, not least from indiscriminate terrorist attacks.

“The remaining hostages taken on October 7 must be released by Hamas. However, every state has a responsibility to exercise restraint in response.

“We would expect this of the British Government and our armed forces. We should expect this of Israel too.”

Read more: Anas Sarwar downplays ceasefire differences with Keir Starmer

He said: “It is simply heartbreaking that countless children in Gaza are currently dying, and there are heartbroken parents in Israel too.

“That is why we have a moral obligation to be unequivocal. There must be an end to the fighting now and a sustainable ceasefire. An end to the terror and end to the violence.

“Today, I hope the motion before us which calls for a ceasefire and reaffirms our support for a two-state solution with a safe and secure Israel alongside a safe, secure and viable Palestinian state.

“Only that will deliver a sustainable and lasting peace.”

Meanwhile, Pauline McNeill, justice spokeswoman, said she had witnessed the hardship facing Palestinians during her six visits to the region.

The Herald: A pro Palestine protest in Glasgow city centre calling for a ceasefire in Gaza A pro Palestine protest in Glasgow city centre calling for a ceasefire in Gaza (Image: Colin Mearns)

She said: “While the eyes are on Gaza, and rightly so, do not forgot that the Palestinians are one nation and illegal occupation – the 56-year-long occupation where Palestinians are dehumanised and kicked out of their homes – has to end.”

The issue is due to be tabled in the Commons next week, with the SNP leading a motion calling for an urgent ceasefire.

A previous Westminster vote on a ceasefire in November saw Labour lose 10 shadow ministers and parliamentary aides who rebelled against the leadership’s stance on Gaza.

The move was a significant rebellion for leader Sir Keir Starmer as he urged his MPs to abstain from the ceasefire vote, instead calling for them to back a separate softer motion criticising Israel’s conduct.

Now, the SNP is urging Mr Sarwar to whip Scotland’s two Labour MPs to vote in favour of a ceasefire.

Read more: Stephen Flynn pleads with Sunak and Starmer to call for ceasefire

The SNP’s Westminster leader Stephen Flynn said: “It’s time for Sir Keir Starmer to commit to supporting our motion for an immediate ceasefire. There can be no more delays.

“Thousands of children, women and civilians have lost their life since both the Tories and Labour cowardly rejected our last motion – they cannot make that same mistake again. History will remember this vote.

“Questions must also be asked of Scotland’s two Labour MPs. Will they follow their Scottish leader, or their leader in London? That decision will tell you exactly where Scottish Labour MPs’ loyalties truly lie.

“With each day Sir Keir Starmer equivocates, the more innocent civilians die. This has to end – and end now.”