Labour MP Zarah Sultana defies Keir Starmer with Gaza ceasefire motion

Labour MP Zarah Sultana defies Keir Starmer with Gaza ceasefire motion
Labour MP Zarah Sultana has tabled an amendment calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza in opposition to the party’s leadership stance.
3 min read
09 November, 2023
Labour MP Zarah Sultana said that 76 percent of the UK public backed a ceasefire [Getty]

UK Labour MP Zarah Sultana has put forward an amendment to the King’s Speech  on Wednesday calling for an "immediate ceasefire" in Israel's war on Gaza and the return of hostages held by Hamas. 

Sultana's motion has been interpreted as a direct challenge to Labour leader Keir Starmer's authority and follows the resignation of Bradford MP Imran Hussain from the shadow cabinet. 

It puts additional pressure on the Labour Party leader, who has so far rejected growing calls in his party for a ceasefire. He has only called for a temporary "humanitarian pause", a view that mirrors that of the UK and US leaders. 

Sultana, who is one of the few Muslim women MPs in the UK parliament, says her call for an long-lasting ceasefire is more in step with the views of the British public as Israel kills hundreds of Palestinians every day.

"More than 10,000 Palestinians have been slaughtered in Israel’s assault, nearly half of whom are children. It would take nearly six hours to read the names and ages of every child killed so far but this horror has been given the green light by this Government," Sultana told the UK House of Commons. 

"So today I tabled an amendment to the King’s Speech calling for an immediate ceasefire, a move backed by 76 percent of the British public."

Her amendment stated that the government should "urgently press all parties to agree to an immediate ceasefire, the immediate and unconditional release of hostages, an end to the total siege of Gaza to allow full access to medical supplies, food, fuel, electricity and water, and a guarantee that international humanitarian law is upheld".

The Coventry South MP’s motion has since been backed by 20 politicians, including longstanding Labour figures such Rosena Allin-Khan, John McDonnell and Nadia Whittome and former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn who now sits as an independent. 

Starmer has faced backlash over his response to the Gaza-Israel conflict, as tensions within the Labour Party intensify. 

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The Labour leader's claims that a ceasefire in Gaza would embolden Hamas and that Israel 'has the right' to withhold power and water from Gaza, has led to mass resignations and rebellion within the Party. 

Israel’s relentless air, sea and ground attacks on Gaza has led to over 10,000 civilians according to the Palestinian health ministry and killed over 10,500 Palestinians. 

It follows Hamas attacks in southern Israel on 7 October that left 1,400 people dead and 240 taken into captivity according to Israeli officials.

Israel has placed Gaza under a crippling blockade since 2007, while continuing its occupation of the West Bank and carrying out deadly raids on Palestinian towns there almost daily.