By Charlie Kimber
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Labour’s call for an ‘immediate humanitarian ceasefire’ shows Starmer’s scared of the Palestine movement

Labour’s amendment on Wednesday night backs a ceasefire—so long as the Palestinian resistance surrenders
Issue 2893
People hold up a sign that says Starmer shame illustrating a story about the Labour ceasefire amendment

A protest against Starmer in London last November (Picture: Guy Smallman)

The Labour Party—rocked by mass protests, internal splits and the threat of electoral punishment—has changed its language about a ceasefire in Gaza. But it is still refusing to go against Israel’s genocidal assaults. 

In advance of a parliamentary vote set for Wednesday, it put out a new line on Tuesday. Labour still won’t back the Scottish National Party’s motion for an immediate ceasefire. Instead, it tries desperately to move away from its overt support for the killing while sticking with the Israeli state.

Labour’s amendment backs “an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, which means an immediate stop to the fighting and a ceasefire that lasts. But it makes this conditional, “noting that Israel cannot be expected to cease fighting if Hamas continues with violence and that Israelis have the right to the assurance that the horror of 7th October cannot happen again.”

So there could be a ceasefire so long as the Palestinian resistance surrenders and there is no longer opposition to Zionism.

It admits “an Israeli ground offensive in Rafah risks catastrophic humanitarian consequences and therefore must not take place” but immediately “condemns the terrorism of Hamas who continue to hold hostages”.

As well as the pressure from the millions-strong movement for Palestine, another factor weighing on Keir Starmer will be a shift from president Joe Biden. 

The resilience of the Palestinians, the scale of the global movement and the fears of wider revolt in the Middle East have shaken his administration. It is now using the word “ceasefire”. 

The US has drafted a UN Security Council resolution that calls for a “temporary ceasefire” in Gaza “as soon as practical” and based on “all hostages being released”. It also warned against what it described as a “major” ground offensive in Rafah, “under the current circumstances”.

That’s not a pro-Palestine motion, but where the US leads loyal supporters of imperialism—such as the Labour Party—follow.

As Starmer is on the defensive, it’s time to increase the pressure. Let’s drive home the confusion and the fear on the other side.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign said on Tuesday, “The Labour Party leadership has tabled an amendment seeking to water down the SNP motion calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. 

“This amendment seeks to dilute the clear call for an immediate ceasefire by handing the Israeli government a veto over whether or not a ceasefire should happen, at a time when Israel is on trial at the ICJ for the crime of genocide. 

“Labour’s amendment amounts to asking for another pause—allowing Israel the option to continue with the slaughter unless its preconditions are met. 

“Pointedly, the Labour amendment removes all reference to the collective punishment of Palestinians —a crime under international law. 

“This is not an accident. While some shifting of the Labour position is testament to the hundreds of thousands who have campaigned for more than four months for an end to the killing of Palestinians by Israel, this amendment indicates that the Labour leadership is still trying to excuse Israeli war crimes and not willing to put pressure on Israel to end its atrocities. 

“It is grotesque to play parliamentary word games with the lives of Palestinian people. All MPs should vote for the SNP motion clearly calling for an immediate ceasefire and against this and any other amendment that seeks to weaken this urgent demand.”

Pressure from the streets makes a difference—let’s have more of it.

  • Join the demonstration to demand a ceasefire now, Wednesday 21 Feb, from 3.30pm, Parliament Square (south side), London (not new time and assembly point)

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