Keir Starmer’s refusal to back Gaza ceasefire has ’caused hurt to many people’ admits shadow minister John Healey as rebel left-wing Labour MPs try to force Commons vote on end to fighting that leader says would aid Hamas
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Sir Keir Starmer knows his hardline opposition to a ceasefire in Gaza has has ’caused hurt to many people’, a senior shadow minister said today amid efforts by leftwing MPs to undermine the leader.

John Healey mounted a defence of the opposition leader amid a deep division within the party over his support for Israel‘s right to defeat Hamas.

More than a dozen frontbenchers and around a quarter of the party have now openly called for a permanent end to the fighting. Sir Keir is backing time-limited ‘humanitarian pauses’ only but has indicated he will not take action against shadow ministers who defy him.

MPs on the left of the party are said to be trying to force a vote in the Commons on the issue of a ceasefire, possibly with the help of the Scottish National Party.

While it would not have any binding power it could cause deep embarrassment for the party leadership if enough MPs rebel. 

Mr Healey was asked on the BBC‘s Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg programme if he accepts criticism from Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar that Sir Keir’s position has caused hurt to Muslim voters.

He replied that it had ’caused hurt to many people’ and Sir Keir ‘understands why people are calling for a ceasefire and want to see an end to the fighting’, but defended the decision not to join those calls.

John Healey mounted a defence of the opposition leader amid a deep division within the party over his support for Israel 's right to defeat Hamas .

John Healey mounted a defence of the opposition leader amid a deep division within the party over his support for Israel ‘s right to defeat Hamas .

More than a dozen frontbenchers and around a quarter of the party have now openly called for a permanent end to the fighting.

More than a dozen frontbenchers and around a quarter of the party have now openly called for a permanent end to the fighting.

Sir Keir is backing time-limited 'humanitarian pauses' only but has indicated he will not take action against shadow ministers who defy him.

Sir Keir is backing time-limited ‘humanitarian pauses’ only but has indicated he will not take action against shadow ministers who defy him. 

Asked on the BBC’s Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg programme if he accepts the criticism from Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar, that Sir Keir’s position has caused hurt to Muslim voters, Mr Healey said: ‘I accept that it’s caused hurt to many people and Keir Starmer would do that as well.

‘But he understands why people are calling for a ceasefire and want to see an end to the fighting.

‘His concern is twofold and he says that at present this is not the right time for now. First, because Israel must have the right to self-defence, it must have the right to go after the Hamas fighters and its missile launchers.

‘And secondly, in the end, what’s most important now is what will best work to bring some alleviation of the suffering to people in Palestine, get more aid into Gaza and create more space for further diplomacy. And that quite clearly has been the humanitarian pauses that Keir Starmer has been arguing for, a break in the fighting if you like.’

However he also warned there is a ‘danger’ of Israel going too far and more steps need to be taken to protect innocent lives, Labour has said.

‘The right to self-defence is not a blank cheque as Keir Starmer argued this week and Israel must meet its obligations under international law,’ he said.

On whether Israel is doing so right now, he said: ‘Well, look, I’m reluctant… politicians are not commentators. And I’m reluctant to pass judgment on specific actions. There is a proper process for coming to those judgments in war. Information is always partial. It’s often incomplete and it’s certainly uncertain. So those judgments will be taken in time.

‘And they’ll be taken in line with the established international process through the International Criminal Court and the United Nations.’



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