Big wins for pro-Gaza bloc in UK election while Labour achieve landslide victory

Big wins for pro-Gaza bloc in UK election while Labour achieve landslide victory
The war on Gaza has been the primary focus in this UK general election as five pro-Palestinian independents were elected as MPs, including Jeremy Corbyn.
18 min read

In an unprecedented electoral breakthrough, five pro-Gaza independents won seats in the UK parliament following Thursday night's general election.

This included former UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn who won re-election to parliament on Friday as an independent candidate.

Corbyn, 75, who has represented the London constituency of Islington North for more than 40 years, won the seat comfortably -- but for the first time without Labour affiliation.

Jonathan Ashworth, who had been expected to serve in Keir Starmer's Labour government, lost his seat to independent candidate Shockat Adam.

However, veteran left-wing political maverick George Galloway was also beaten. He had only won his Rochdale seat for the Workers Party of Britain in March after Labour pulled support for its candidate, running on a pro-Palestinian agenda.

In areas with large concentrations of Muslim voters many of those independents have been running on a pro-Palestinian platform.

The most likely to have felt the effect of unhappiness among Muslim voters is Keir Starmer's Labour Party, despite winning the election, but has long counted on the backing of Muslim and other minority groups.

Starmer's Labour has faced criticism for only gradually shifting towards calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.

Labour has committed to recognising a Palestinian state but has not set out a definitive timetable for doing so.

We will give you all the updates from the UK election as they come in and other news from the MENA region.

UK's new PM Keir Starmer 'kills Rwanda plan on first day'
9:44 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Britain's newly elected Prime Minister Keir Starmer has killed off a deportation plan that would see migrants who arrived in the UK illegally sent to Rwanda on his first day on the job, the Telegraph reported on Friday, citing Labour sources, calling the plan "effectively dead."

Starmer had earlier promised to scrap the Conservative's policy of sending asylum seekers to Rwanda, but with migration a key electoral issue, he will be under pressure himself to find a way to stop tens of thousands of people arriving across the Channel from France on small boats.

Israeli negotiators to hold fresh Gaza truce talks next week
8:50 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Israel said Friday that "gaps" remained with Hamas on how to secure a Gaza ceasefire and hostage release deal but that it will send a delegation for fresh talks with Qatari mediators next week.

The statement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's spokesman came after a delegation led by the head of Israel's Mossad intelligence agency, David Barnea, held a first round of talks with mediators in Doha on Friday.

"It was agreed that next week Israeli negotiators will travel to Doha to continue the talks. There are still gaps between the parties," the spokesman said in a statement.

There has been no truce in the nine-month-old war in Gaza since a one-week pause in November saw 80 Israeli captives freed in return for 240 Palestinians held in Israeli prisons.

The United States, which has worked alongside Qatar and Egypt in trying to broker a deal, had talked up the significance of Netanyahu's decision to send a delegation to Qatar.

The United States believes Israel and Hamas have a "pretty significant opening" to reach an agreement, a senior official said.

US President Joe Biden announced a pathway to a truce deal in May that he said had been proposed by Israel. It included an initial six-week truce, Israeli withdrawal from Gaza population centres and the freeing of hostages by Palestinian militants.

Talks subsequently stalled but the US official said on Thursday that the new proposal from Hamas "moves the process forward and may provide the basis for closing the deal," though "significant work" remained.

Senior Hamas official Osama Hamdan told AFP that new ideas from the group had been "conveyed by the mediators to the American side, which welcomed them and passed them on to the Israeli side. Now the ball is in the Israeli court."

Hamdan blamed Israel for the deadlock since Biden's announcement and said the Doha talks "will be a test for the US administration to see if it is willing to pressure the Zionist entity to accept these proposed ideas".

Israel's indiscriminate war has killed over 38,000 people, uprooted 90 percent of Gaza's population, destroyed much of the territory's housing and other infrastructure, and left almost 500,000 people enduring "catastrophic" hunger, UN agencies say.

Starmer tells Biden UK support for Ukraine 'unwavering'
8:34 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

UK Prime Minister Keir Starmer told US President Joe Biden on Friday that British support for Ukraine's war with Russia was "unwavering", in a first call hours after Britain's new leader took charge.

"The leaders reiterated their steadfast commitment to Ukraine and the prime minister underscored that the UK's support for Ukraine was unwavering," Starmer's Downing Street office said in a readout.

Israel spy chief leaves Doha after Gaza truce talks: source
6:08 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Israeli intelligence chief David Barnea left Doha Friday after talks with Qatari mediators on a truce and hostage release deal for Gaza, a source with knowledge of the negotiations told news agency AFP.

"An Israeli delegation headed by David Barnea has left Doha for Israel following meetings with Qatari mediators on a Hamas response for a Gaza ceasefire," the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the talks.

UK Foreign Secretary Lammy backs Gaza 'immediate ceasefire'
5:34 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Britain's newly appointed Foreign Secretary David Lammy reiterated his support Friday for international efforts to secure an "immediate ceasefire" in the Gaza war and for the release of remaining hostages.

"The job now is to get to work with tireless diplomacy to support an immediate ceasefire and move towards getting those hostages out," Lammy told UK broadcasters in his first comments after becoming the country's top diplomat hours earlier.

Trump congratulates UK's Farage, ignores Starmer
5:06 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Former US president Donald Trump celebrated the election of fellow populist Nigel Farage to Britain's parliament on Friday, neglecting to mention the new prime minister, Keir Starmer.

Farage's anti-immigration Reform UK party won the third largest vote haul, but under Britain's electoral system it took just four seats while Starmer's Labour party swept into office with a landslide.

"Congratulations to Nigel Farage on his big WIN of a Parliament Seat Amid Reform UK Election Success. Nigel is a man who truly loves his Country!" Trump wrote on his Truth Social platform.

Farage is a long-standing ally of Trump, who has dubbed the divorced father-of-four "Mr Brexit" and previously said the British populist would have done a "great job" as the UK's ambassador to Washington.

Farage is a champion of Brexit who was elected to parliament on his eighth attempt and has made no secret of his desire to take over the now-main opposition Conservative party, which was trounced at the polls by Labour.

Hamas official says expects quick Israeli reply to ceasefire
4:54 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

A top Hamas official told news agency AFP Friday the group expects a swift Israeli response -- "likely today or tomorrow morning" -- to its new "ideas" for halting the Gaza war and freeing hostages.

With Israeli negotiators scheduled to arrive in Qatar for talks with mediators, Osama Hamdan said the group's military wing remains "in a good condition that allows it to continue" to fight Israeli forces.

New UK cabinet: Other announcements made so far
4:37 PM
The New Arab Staff

10 Downing Street has so far listed its newest cabinet members, following Labour's landslide election victory.

Here are some of the other newly elected parliamentarians taking up pivotal roles:

  • Pat McFadden - chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
  • John Healey - defence secretary
  • Shabana Mahmood - justice secretary
  • Bridget Phillipson - education secretary
  • Ed Miliband - net zero secretary
  • Liz Kendall- work and pensions secretary
  • Peter Kyle- science secretary
  • Louise Haigh- transport secretary
Wes Streeting appointed as UK health secretary
4:31 PM
The New Arab Staff

Wes Streeting has been appointed as the UK's health secretary in Sir Keir Starmer's government.

In this capacity, Streeting will oversee the National Health Service (NHS), public health, and social care.

His responsibilities include managing the healthcare system, addressing issues such as hospital waiting times, funding, and workforce shortages, and ensuring the overall well-being of the population. 

Streeting won by just 528 votes over British-Palestinian Leanne Mohammad in Ilford North.

Yvette Cooper appointed as UK home secretary
3:53 PM
The New Arab Staff

Yvette Cooper has been named as the UK's secretary of state for the home department, according to No. 10.

In this role, Cooper will oversee national security, immigration, law and order, and the police.

Her appointment signals a focus on addressing key issues such as crime reduction, border control, and public safety.

David Lammy appointed as UK foreign secretary
3:48 PM
The New Arab Staff

Keir Starmer has appointed David Lammy as the nation's foreign secretary, after becoming shadow foreign secretary in 2021.

John Healey has also been named the defence minister, while Yvette Cooper was named interior minister.

Lammy and Healey take charge at a time of two global conflicts and have pledged to maintain continued support for Ukraine in its conflict against Russia and press for a ceasefire in the war in Gaza. 

David Lammy enters Downing Street following Labour's landslide election victory [Getty]
Rachel Reeves appointed as UK's Treasury chief
3:34 PM
The New Arab Staff

Keir Starmer has appointed Rachel Reeves as Britain's chancellor, making her the first woman handling the nation's finances in its 803 year history.

Angela Rayner appointed as UK's deputy prime minister
3:25 PM
The New Arab Staff

Angela Rayner has been appointed the UK's deputy prime minister by Keir Starmer, according to an announcement from Downing Street.

In addition to her role as deputy prime minister, Rayner will also take on the responsibilities of secretary of state for levelling up, housing, and communities, which she shadowed in opposition.

Britain's Labour Party deputy leader Angela Rayner arrives in Downing Street [Getty]
UK cabinet ministers set to be announced
3:07 PM
The New Arab Staff

Politicians such as Rachel Reeves, Wes Streeting, David Lammy, Peter Kyle and Bridget Phillipson have arrived at Downing Street.

There have yet to be announcement as MPs set to make their arrivals all at once. According to Sky News, the appearances are said to be in order of seniority. 

Bridget Phillipson enters 10 Downing Street following Labour's landslide victory [Getty]
Hamas says it rejects foreign forces entering Gaza
2:54 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Hamas said on Friday it rejects any statements and positions that support plans for foreign forces to enter the Gaza Strip under any name or justification.

The group said the administration of the Gaza Strip is a purely Palestinian matter. "The Palestinian people (...) will not allow any guardianship or the imposition of any external solutions or equations," it added. 

Muslim Council of Britain praises Starmer's win
2:44 PM
The New Arab Staff

The Muslim Council of Britain has issued a statement following Labour's win in the general election- by congratulating PM-elect Keir Starmer and calling for the need to address core issues including the war on Gaza.

While noting the historic win for Labour, the organisation also highlighted the rise in votes for independents and stressed that such matters "must be at the forefront of this new administration's agenda."

"With a new government, Now is the time for fostering meaningful dialogue and regaining the trust of British Muslim communities," Zara Mohammed, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain said.

"We need a change to move from austerity to ease, from hardship to comfort, and from divisive politics to a model of engagement that includes all communities."

She continued: "For British Muslim voters, as with fellow voters, there has been an overwhelming sense of helplessness over the situation in Gaza and the UK’s unwillingness to demand a ceasefire and call out a plausible genocide.

"We have seen this best expressed in the seats where independents have now won or taken a considerable share of the vote, an indication that no vote should be taken for granted."

PRCS: Israeli troops attack emergency crews near Nablus
2:08 PM
The New Arab Staff

The Palestine Red Crescent Society reported that its emergency teams were attacked by Israeli forces while trying to provide medical aid during an incursion in Beita, south of Nablus.

According to eyewitness accounts cited by the Wafa news agency, Israeli forces stormed the area, using live ammunition, grenades, and tear gas, resulting in multiple injuries among the residents.

Hamas mourns "righteous martyrs" killed in Jenin raid
2:03 PM
The New Arab Staff

Palestinian group Hamas issued a statement to share their condolences, following the killing of at least seven Palestinians in an Israeli raid on the West Bank's Jenin.

"The ongoing crimes of the occupation in Gaza, Jenin and Tulkarem will not succeed in breaking the will of our Palestinian people," Hamas said in a statement on Telegram.

The group also called on the international community and the United Nations "to stand up to their responsibilities and take clear decisions to stop the ongoing crimes."

Jenin death toll rises to seven Palestinians killed
1:42 PM
The New Arab Staff

The Palestinian health ministry in the West Bank says that the death toll in the latest Israeli attack on Jenin has risen to seven.

This comes after the Jenin Government Hospital reporting tha 19-year-old Assad Ahmed Hashah was the latest body to arrive, while the identity of the sixth fatality is still unknown.

However, the ministry confirmed the deaths of Ahmad al-Amouri, 20, Qusaid Hazur, 23, Fuad Ashkar, 25, Yasin Aridi, 30, and Mohamed Jabbarin, 54.

Hamas claims 10 soldiers killed in Shujaiya ambush
1:14 PM
The New Arab Staff

Al Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, says that its fighters have killed 10 Israeli soldiers during an attack in Shujaiya.

According to the group, the ambush took place in east Gaza City, where a building containing soldiers was struck by a TBG shoulder-fired missile before Palestinians closely attacked Israeli troops.

According to the statement, Hamas fighters bombed the site using an explosive device.

It has not been independently verified and Israel's military has yet immediately commented.

Photos show destruction of house after Israeli raid in Jenin
12:59 PM
The New Arab Staff

Palestinian media outlets have shared photos of a destroyed residential property, following an Israeli raid in occupied West Bank’s Jenin refugee camp after a four-hour siege, which led to the killing of five Palestinian men.

The raid concluded with troops launching shoulder-fired missiles at the house, resulting in a fire.

The gutted house, where firefighters and medical teams were operating on the upper floor, had lost its walls.

Erdogan calls on West to pressure Israel on ceasefire deal
12:54 PM
The New Arab Staff

Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan has pleaded to Western nations to pressure Israel to accept the latest ceasefire deal, according to his country's Haberturk broadcaster.

"After US President Joe Biden’s phone call to [Israeli Prime Minister] Benjamin Netanyahu, I hope a final ceasefire would be secured in a couple of days so that Israel’s recent massacres would come to an end," Erdogan was quoted as telling reporters, following his visit in Kazakhstan.

Starmer makes first speech as UK prime minister
12:41 PM
The New Arab Staff

Prime Minister Keir Starmer has arrived at Number 10 where he is making his first speech as prime minister.

After being appointed by King Charles III, Starmer headed to Downing Street to stand at a podium in front of Labour staff and supporters.

Starmer has thanked his predecessor Rishi Sunak, who celebrated his feat as Britain's first Asian and Hindu prime minister.

"Now our country has voted decisively for change, for national renewal and a return of politics to public service," he says. 

"We need to move forward together."

He adds that this "wound, this lack of trust can only be healed by actions - not words - I know that".

"But we can make a start today," Starmer says.

Starmer also addressed voters who did not vote Labour, adding that "my government will serve you."

"We have changed the Labour Party, returned it to service, and that is how we will govern. Country first, party second.

"Service is merely a precondition of hope. And it is surely clear to everyone that our country needs a bigger reset. 

"A rediscovery of who we are because no matter how fierce the storms of history, one of the great strengths of this nation has always been our ability to navigate away to calmer waters."

Britain's incoming Prime Minister and Labour Party leader Keir Starmer (L) [Getty]
Buckingham Palace confirms Starmer appointed as PM
12:33 PM
The New Arab Staff

Buckingham Palace has confirmed that Keir Starmer is the UK's prime minister in a statement issued on Friday.

"The king received in audience the right honourable Sir Keir Starmer MP today and requested him to form a new administration. Sir Keir accepted his majesty’s offer and kissed hands upon his appointment as prime minister and First Lord of the Treasury."

Starmer has since left Buckingham Palace to head to Downing Street. He is officially the seventh Labour prime minister, after his party earning 412 seats in Parliament after losing four general elections previously.

Israel's Herzog congratulates Starmer, vows hostage deal
12:17 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Israeli President Isaac Herzog, wrote in a post on X to express his congratulations to UK Prime Minister elect Kier Starmer, stating that he is anticipating cooperation with the incoming leader.

 "As [Starmer] prepares to enter Downing Street as prime minister, I look forward to working together with him and his new government to bring our hostages home, to build a better future for the region, and to deepen the close friendship between Israel and the United Kingdom."

Meanwhile, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had not yet commented on the UK election results.

WHO: Fuel shortages 'catastrophic' for Gaza health services
11:46 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The World Health Organization chief has warned that a dire lack of fuel could have a "catastrophic" impact on already devastated health services in the war-ravaged Gaza Strip.

Desperate fuel shortages have been a constant problem in the besieged Palestinian territory, facing intense Israeli bombardment since Hamas's deadly October 7 attack inside Israel sparked the ongoing war.

"Further disruption to health services is imminent in Gaza due to a severe lack of fuel," WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said late Thursday on X.

The UN health agency cautioned that only 90,000 litres of fuel entered Gaza on Wednesday. The health sector alone needs 80,000 litres daily.

This is forcing WHO and its partners working in Gaza "to make impossible choices", Tedros said.

Gaza is completely sealed off and everything that enters it is controlled by the Israelis.

Fuel, which has been particularly difficult to get in amid Israeli fears it could benefit Hamas fighters, is vital to keep hospital generators running, as well as humanitarian and emergency vehicles.

Released Gaza detainees allege torture by Israel amid war
10:32 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Blindfolded, beaten and sometimes bitten by dogs, Palestinians released from Israeli prisons allege being tortured amid the Gaza war, which rights groups say has worsened conditions for detainees.

Mohammed Abu Salmiya, former director of Al-Shifa, Gaza's biggest hospital, is the latest to report mistreatment by Israel.

Salmiya, one among dozens of detainees freed Monday, said "several inmates died in interrogation centres and were deprived of food and medicine."

Israel's army and Shin Bet intelligence service have not responded to his account, though they have rejected past accusations.

While the United Nations and others have long raised concerns about conditions for Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons, rights groups say legal changes since the Gaza war erupted have aggravated the situation.

Labour MP says Labour losses in election due to Gaza stance
9:46 AM
The New Arab Staff

Labour MP Zarah Sultana told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that her party's controversial position on the months-long war on Gaza impacted the election results.

Despite Keir Starmer's Labour winning the election, Labour battleground areas, such as Leicester South and Blackburn, were lost by pro-Palestine independent candidates. 

"The party has clearly lost support in parts of the country because of its position on Gaza, and we see that in Coventry as well – we’ve heard concerns about the Labour party when it comes to Gaza and it’s no surprise," she said.

She added the public "overwhelmingly back a ceasefire", stating: "On the one hand we’re saying we need to listen to voters, but when it comes to this particular issue there was a hope that this problem would just go away and it hasn’t."

Sultana continued: The party has to seriously recognise and acknowledge the issue, which is not just with British Muslim communities, it’s across communities, but it definitely is a serious issue, as well the Islamophobia that people experience – which also exists within the Labour party."

Labour MP Zarah Sultana for Coventry South [Getty]
ICC mission planned for Gaza, Ramallah, Jerusalem called off
9:30 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

 On May 20, the same day International Criminal Court prosecutor Karim Khan made a surprise request for warrants to arrest the leaders of Israel and Hamas involved in the Gaza conflict, he suddenly cancelled a sensitive mission to collect evidence in the region, eight people with direct knowledge of the matter told news agency Reuters.

Planning for the visit had been under way for months with US officials, four of the sources said.

Khan's decision to request the warrants upended the plans backed by Washington and London for the prosecutor and his team to visit Gaza and Israel.

The court was set to gather on-site evidence of war crimes and offer Israeli leaders a first opportunity to present their position and any action they were taking to respond to the allegations of war crimes, five sources with direct knowledge of the exchanges told Reuters.

Khan's request for a warrant for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu - the court's first attempt to detain a sitting, Western-backed head of state - also flew in the face of efforts the US and Britain were leading to prevent the court from prosecuting Israeli leaders, the sources said.

ICC chief prosecutor Karim Khan [Getty]
Saudi Arabian Gaza aid threatened by Rafah closure: official
9:01 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Saudi Arabia's main humanitarian agency said on Thursday the Israeli closure of Rafah and other crossings into Gaza was hampering its aid efforts to send lifesaving food, some of which was in danger of spoiling.

"We have hundreds of trucks now piling in Rafah because of the closure of Rafah and other corridors. We are facing big restrictions to reach the people of Gaza," said Abdullah al Rabeeah, the head of the state-run King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre (KSRelief).

Rabeeah, whose agency has provided over $6 billion in aid worldwide in the last few years, said food on hundreds of trucks waiting to enter Gaza and stored in warehouses could be approaching expiry with the closure of the crossing since May 7, when Israel stepped up its offensive.


Some officials say as many as 2,500 trucks were waiting, with Egyptian warehouses nearly full.

"We are worried that food items will lose their expiry date because the corridor is closed and we are checking those food items ... So it is a big burden on us," Rabeeah, who is also Saudi royal palace advisor and former minister of health, told news agency Reuters.

Four Palestinians killed in Israeli offensive on Jenin: MoH
8:40 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

 Four Palestinians were killed in an Israeli military offensive on the West Bank city of Jenin on Friday, the Palestinian health ministry.

Israel's military said in a statement its forces had encircled a building where militants had barricaded themselves in, and that an Israeli aircraft had struck targets in the area.

Hezbollah, Hamas discuss Gaza ceasefire talks: Hezbollah
8:32 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Lebanon's Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah and top Hamas official Khalil Al-Hayya discussed the latest developments in the Gaza Strip and negotiations aimed at reaching a ceasefire there during a meeting, Hezbollah said on Friday.

Nasrallah received Hamas deputy chief Hayya for the meeting, which reviewed "the latest security and political developments" in the Gaza Strip, the Iran-backed Hezbollah said in a statement.

"They also discussed the latest developments in the ongoing negotiations these days, their atmosphere, and the proposals presented to reach an end to the treacherous aggression against the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip," the statement said.

A senior US administration official said on Thursday that Hamas had made a pretty significant adjustment in its position over a potential hostage release deal with Israel, expressing hope that it would lead to a pact that would be a step to a permanent ceasefire.

Hezbollah and Israel have been trading fire since October across the Lebanese-Israeli border in a conflict that has run in parallel to the Gaza war, raising fears of a bigger conflict between the heavily armed adversaries. 

Big wins for pro-Gaza independents in UK election
8:00 AM
The New Arab Staff

The UK general election results have been a source of celebration for pro-Gaza Brits as an unprecedented five independents won seats while other candidates standing on pro-Palestinian platforms also did well.

This includes British-Palestinian Leanne Mohammed who lost her race by only 500 seats, a remarkable achievement in British politics where the big parties dominate.

George Galloway's Workers Party of Britain, meanwhile, performed badly.

Veteran lawmaker Jeremy Corbyn, who stood as an independent in his Islington North seat for the first time, won his seat by a huge majority, another surprise of the evening.