UK

Recognise Palestine to help bring ‘stability’ to Middle East, says Swinney

The First Minister wrote to the Prime Minister and Labour leader pushing them to recognise Palestine.

John Swinney visited the Scottish Poetry Library on Tuesday
John Swinney visited the Scottish Poetry Library on Tuesday (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Recognising Palestine as a country would help bring stability to the Middle East, Scotland’s First Minister has said.

John Swinney has pushed both Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer to back the move, following Ireland, Spain and Norway as the latest countries to do so.

The SNP has frequently called for a ceasefire in Gaza since Israel began bombing the territory in retaliation for the October 7 attacks.

The First Minister visited the Scottish Poetry Library on Tuesday to see an exhibition called Moon Tell Me Truth, which features poetry written by Palestinian children.

John Swinney was campaigning in Edinburgh on Tuesday
John Swinney was campaigning in Edinburgh on Tuesday (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Speaking to the PA news agency, he said he hoped UK leaders would consider the proposals, adding: “We’ve got to take steps to establish stability in the Middle East and this is one of the steps that has got to be taken.

“It’s a step that’s been taken by the Government in Ireland and it’s a step that has been taken by the government in Spain and it’s important the UK follows suit.”

There is a “humanitarian catastrophe” going on in Gaza, the First Minister said, adding: “We’ve got to take decisive steps to end that.

“One of them is to implement an immediate ceasefire, another is to ensure we have an end to arms sales to Israel, another is that the hostages are returned – and it’s long overdue that they’re returned.

“But we’ve also got to recognise that we have to take significant steps to ensure stability in the Middle East and recognising the Palestinian state is one of them.”

His letter to the Prime Minister and Labour leader Sir Keir said: “I urge you both to belatedly do the right thing and pledge to immediately recognise Palestine as a state in its own right.

“If you will not immediately commit to doing so, I can confirm that SNP MPs will bring forward a binding vote in the House of Commons at the first possible opportunity after the General Election.”

It comes as SNP MSP John Mason said the International Criminal Court (ICC) was “biased against Israel” after it stated it would seek the arrest of senior Hamas leaders and Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, for alleged war crimes.

In an email to Show Israel the Red Card, a group urging politicians to sever sporting links with the country, he said the ICC was “not neutral” and “are biased against Israel”.

Responding to the First Minister’s letter, a Labour Party spokesman said: “The Labour Party will work alongside international partners to recognise the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel, as part of efforts to contribute to securing a negotiated two-state solution.”