British Labour leader Keir Starmer said on Sunday there should be a lasting ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, setting out his stance before parliament is expected to debate a conflict that has caused division in the opposition party.

With Labour well ahead in the polls before an election later this year, Starmer is keen to present a united front to voters, but the conflict in Gaza has tested that unity.

Nearly a third of his lawmakers defied him last year to back calls for an immediate ceasefire and the party had to withdraw support for a candidate over his comments about Israel earlier this month.

This week, the Scottish National Party is expected to bring a motion to parliament to call for an immediate ceasefire — something Starmer’s foreign policy chief David Lammy said the party would examine and then come to a decision on.

Addressing the Scottish Labour conference, Starmer said: “What we all want to see … (is) an end to the fighting not just now, not just for a pause, but permanently. A ceasefire that lasts … that is what must happen now.”

He added that any ceasefire could not be one-sided.

Earlier, Starmer, like Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, had called for a “sustainable ceasefire” and his aides said his words did not amount to a change in position.


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