Starmer calls for immediate ceasefire and two-state solution

‘Fighting must stop now’ says Labour leader as he calls for Hamas to release hostages and warns against Rafah offensive


GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - FEBRUARY 18: Sir Keir Starmer, leader of the Labour Party gives his keynote speech to the Scottish Labour Party annual conference (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Labour, Sir Keir Starmer has called for a “ceasefire that lasts” as he spoke out against a Rafah offensive.

He called for the  return of the Israeli hostages held by Hamas and a scaling up of humanitarian relief into Gaza.

He wants a two-state solution with a “safe and secure” Israel alongside a Palestinian state, which he called an “inalienable right of the Palestinian people... recognised by this party and the world.”

Starmer set out his stance at the annual Scottish Labour conference. This week the Scottish National Party plans to table a parliamentary motion calling for an immediate ceasefire.

Shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy said Labour would examine the SNP motion.

Addressing the Scottish Labour conference, Starmer said: “I have just returned from the Munich Security Conference, where every conversation I had came back to the situation in Israel and Gaza and the question of what we can do practically to deliver what we all want to see.

He said he wanted: “A return of all the hostages taken on October 7, an end to the killing of innocent Palestinians, a huge scaling up of humanitarian relief, and an end to the fighting — not just for now, not just for a pause — but permanently.

“A ceasefire that lasts, conference, that is what must happen now. The fighting must stop now.

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

The Labour leader went on, "The offensive threatened on Rafah, a place where 1.5m people are now crammed together in unimaginable conditions with nowhere else for them to go, this cannot become a new theatre of war; that offensive cannot happen.

“Even in these most terrible of circumstances, the two-state solution must be back on the table.

“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 an inalienable right of the Palestinian people and is recognised by this party and the world.”

Speaking to Sky News, a Labour source reaffirmed that Starmer’s comments were within the context of any ceasefire being sustainable and coming from both sides – including the release of the hostages held by Hamas.

His comments come one day after Scottish Labour unanimously backed a motion calling for an immediate end to the conflict. The unopposed ceasefire motion urged 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.

The Scottish Labour motion also condemned the Hamas attacks on Israel and noted Israel's right to protect its citizens.

Starmer’s previous position on the war had caused a rift within Labour and several MPs have been suspended from the party because of comments made about Israel and Gaza.

Some Labour MPs, including Emily Thornberry, Steve McCabe, and Rachel Reeves, have been at the receiving end of anti-Israel campaigns.

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