UK

First Minister to lead Holyrood debate on Gaza ceasefire

Humza Yousaf will lead the debate on Tuesday (Jane Barlow/PA)
Humza Yousaf will lead the debate on Tuesday (Jane Barlow/PA) Humza Yousaf will lead the debate on Tuesday (Jane Barlow/PA)

Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf will lead a debate on a ceasefire in Gaza on Tuesday.

Mr Yousaf tabled a motion on Monday which will be debated in Holyrood, calling for an “immediate ceasefire” in the conflict, as well as condemning the “barbaric and unjustifiable” Hamas attacks of October 7 and demanding the release of all hostages taken.

On Monday, the First Minister said: “This week, the Scottish Parliament has an opportunity to unite to send a message of peace to world leaders and to those enduring untold suffering in the Middle East.

“The motion that will be debated, tabled today, condemns the barbaric and unjustifiable actions of Hamas, and echoes the calls of the UN Secretary-General for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire.”

He added: “An immediate ceasefire is the only way to end the tragic deaths of civilians.

“This week, I urge MSPs of all parties to come together and say enough is enough – the time for a ceasefire is now.”

It is understood that the First Minister will steer clear of overt partisanship during his speech, instead drawing on his personal family experience of the conflict.

Mr Yousaf’s in-laws, Elizabeth and Maged El-Nakla, visited family ahead of the October 7 attack, becoming trapped in Gaza when the Israeli retaliation started.

Both were eventually able to flee through the Rafah border crossing in the south of the Gaza Strip.

The pair, however, were forced to leave family in the region, including their son, who works as a doctor and who Mr Yousaf said on Sunday was in a “terrible way”.

Anas Sarwar and Keir Starmer
Anas Sarwar and Keir Starmer Anas Sarwar said he supported a ceasefire (Jane Barlow/PA)

Scottish Labour confirmed on Monday the party would back the calls for a ceasefire, while a report in The Scotsman newspaper claimed the Scottish Lib Dems would also vote in favour.

The motion comes less than a week after a major rebellion among Labour MPs at Westminster on the same issue.

Sir Keir Starmer lost eight frontbenchers as a result of the vote, in which he had whipped MPs not to back a ceasefire.

An amendment to the Scottish Government motion, tabled by Labour, will include calls for the International Criminal Court to investigate all parties in the conflict.

The party has also hit out at the conduct of the SNP, accusing them of playing “petty politics” by attacking Labour, with First Minister Humza Yousaf calling on leader Anas Sarwar to “stand firm” and back a ceasefire, despite statements of support for the move in recent weeks.

A Labour spokesperson said: “This is a profoundly disappointing approach from the SNP publicly.

“Since last Thursday, the SNP and Scottish Labour have been working on both a motion and amendment which represented the broad consensus across the Parliament.

“Before this statement, business managers from both parties had agreed to support both the SNP’s motion and Labour’s amendment.”

The spokesperson added: “Despite agreement between Labour and the SNP on both the motion calling for an immediate ceasefire, and the Labour amendment which goes further, the SNP have now indicated they want to play petty politics with this issue instead.

“The SNP press office should retract this shameful attack which tarnishes the work both parties have done behind the scenes on this important issue.”

Ross Greer, the Scottish Greens external affairs spokesman, said every one of the party’s MSPs will vote for the motion.

“Enough is enough. Israel’s relentless bombing campaign has already killed 15,000 people, including at least 5,000 children,” he said.

“If the international community and governments like Scotland’s use our voice to call for peace, it can make a difference.

”Today’s vote is an opportunity for MSPs from all parties to come together and send a clear message of solidarity to the people of Gaza.