UK Parliament descends into farce as Speaker ruins Gaza ceasefire vote

A UK Parliament vote tonight on a ceasefire in Gaza descended into farcical scenes as a bizarre decision by the Speaker denied the House a meaningful vote.

Earlier in the day, Sir Lindsay Hoyle allowed a Labour amendment to the Scottish National Party motion calling for a ceasefire. This led to both the SNP and the government walking out of the chamber.

They did this because opposition amendments are not usually allowed in parliamentary votes, and the decision by the Speaker (a former Labour MP who recently visited Israel) saved Keir Starmer from a rebellion by Labour MPs who otherwise would have only had the option of voting for the SNP motion or a government amendment.

In the end the Labour amendment calling for an end to the Israeli offensive but only if Hamas stops fighting was passed without a vote.

Following the Speaker’s decision this afternoon there were meant to be three votes this evening:

  • An SNP motion calling for an immediate ceasefire which put the emphasis on the plight of the Palestinians.
  • A Labour amendment which called for an end to the Israeli offensive but only if Hamas stops fighting, and which also contained condemnatory language about Hamas as well as talk of a two state solution.
  • A government amendment which was pro-Israel, which called for the destruction of Hamas and which only called for a “humanitarian pause.”

Original SNP motion:

“That this House calls for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and Israel; notes with shock and distress that the death toll has now risen beyond 28,000, the vast majority of whom were women and children; further notes that there are currently 1.5 million Palestinians sheltering in Rafah, 610,000 of whom are children; also notes that they have nowhere else to go; condemns any military assault on what is now the largest refugee camp in the world; further calls for the immediate release of all hostages taken by Hamas and an end to the collective punishment of the Palestinian people; and recognises that the only way to stop the slaughter of innocent civilians is to press for a ceasefire now.”

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Labour amendment 

“That this House believes that an Israeli ground offensive in Rafah risks catastrophic humanitarian consequences and therefore must not take place; notes the intolerable loss of Palestinian life, the majority being women and children; condemns the terrorism of Hamas who continue to hold hostages; supports Australia, Canada and New Zealand’s calls for Hamas to release and return all hostages and for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, which means an immediate stop to the fighting and a ceasefire that lasts and is observed by all sides, 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 7 October 2023 cannot happen again; therefore supports diplomatic mediation efforts to achieve a lasting ceasefire; demands that rapid and unimpeded humanitarian relief is provided in Gaza; further demands an end to settlement expansion and violence; urges Israel to comply with the International Court of Justice’s provisional measures; calls for the UN Security Council to meet urgently; and urges all international partners to work together to establish a diplomatic process to deliver the peace of a two-state solution, with a safe and secure Israel alongside a viable Palestinian state, including working with international partners to recognise a Palestinian state as a contribution to rather than outcome of that process, because statehood is the inalienable right of the Palestinian people and not in the gift of any neighbour.”

Government amendment

“That this House supports Israel’s right to self-defence, in compliance with international humanitarian law, against the terror attacks perpetrated by Hamas; condemns the slaughter, abuse and gender-based violence perpetrated on 7 October 2023; further condemns the use of civilian areas by Hamas and others for terrorist operations; urges negotiations to agree an immediate humanitarian pause as the best way to stop the fighting and to get aid in and hostages out; supports moves towards a permanent sustainable ceasefire; acknowledges that achieving this will require all hostages to be released, the formation of a new Palestinian Government, Hamas to be unable to launch further attacks and to be no longer in charge in Gaza, and a credible pathway to a two-state solution which delivers peace, security and justice for both Israelis and Palestinians; expresses concern at the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and at the prospect of a military offensive in Rafah; reaffirms the urgent need to significantly scale up the flow of aid into Gaza, where too many innocent civilians have died; and calls on all parties to take immediate steps to stop the fighting and ensure unhindered humanitarian access.”

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