Sir Keir Starmer has called for “a ceasefire that lasts” in Gaza amid growing pressure for Labour to support an immediate end to the fighting.

The UK Labour leader has been criticised for refusing to back an “immediate ceasefire” in Gaza and Israel. But he has suggested Labour could move closer to such a call by calling for the violence to be halted.

More pressure will be piled on Labour MPs at Westminster on Wednesday when the SNP tables another motion to back an "immediate ceasefire".

A similar vote in November saw eight shadow ministers break ranks to back an immediate ceasefire, with some 56 Labour members defying a three-line whip and backing an SNP amendment to the King’s Speech.

Speaking at the Scottish Labour conference in Glasgow, Sir Keir demanded “an end to the fighting”, as well as “a return to all hostages taken” by Hamas and “a huge scaling up of humanitarian relief”.

He added: “Not just now, not just for a pause, but permanently – a ceasefire that lasts.

“Any ceasefire cannot be one-sided. It must stop all acts of violence on both sides. It must lead to a genuine peace process.”

Sir Keir said that “even in this most terrible of circumstances”, the “two-state solution must be back on the table”.

He said: “A safe and secure Israel where the horror that Hamas inflicted on October 7 the largest loss of Jewish life since the Holocaust, can never happen again.

“And alongside that, a viable Palestinian state – a state which is not in the gift of any neighbour, but is the inalienable right of the Palestinian people and is recognized by this part and the world.”

The move came as the SNP penned a letter to Sir Keir, asking to meet and discuss Wednesday’s ceasefire vote at Westminster.

Speaking on BBC Scotland’s the Sunday Show, Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said “we're openly saying that we're happy to work with the SNP about the motion that's tabled... is there scope for that discussion... I'm not asking the SNP to move their position, I'm asking for us to work together".

In a letter to Sir Keir, SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn has insisted that “I firmly believe that any motion must maintain the clarity of pressing for an immediate ceasefire”.

He added: "My reasoning for that is very simple. That clear statement, and clear intent, is the only message that Prime Minister Netanyahu and his government will understand. It is the best pressure we can now apply.

“By finally joining the vast majority of the international community in pressing for that ceasefire, we can instigate a fresh diplomatic effort to stop the slaughter of even more innocent civilians and children.

"That diplomatic effort to demand a ceasefire now is the only way to stop the imminent assault on Rafah, secure the unconditional release of all the remaining hostages taken by Hamas, get vital aid into Gaza, and finally put an end to the collective punishment of the Palestinian people.”