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War on Gaza: Israel has 'gone too far' in self-defence, says Wes Streeting

The shadow health secretary's comments come after the party leader Keir Starmer called for a 'ceasefire that lasts'
Britain's main opposition Labour Party Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting speaks on the final day of the annual Labour Party conference in Liverpool, northwest England, on 11 October 2023 (Reuters)
Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting speaks on the final day of the annual Labour Party conference in Liverpool, northwest England, 11 October 2023 (AFP)

Labour frontbencher Wes Streeting said on Sunday that Israel has gone "beyond reasonable defence" in its assault on Gaza, ahead of a parliamentary vote on a ceasefire which is set to be debated on Wednesday.

The shadow health secretary told Sky News that lsrael's ongoing military campaign, which has killed over 29,000 Palestinians since it began on 7 October, could constitute a breach of international law.

While he said that Labour is still "considering" how to respond to a Scottish National Party-led motion calling for an immediate ceasefire, he stated that Israel "had gone too far… we have seen that with a disproportionate loss of civilian life."

In an interview with Laura Kuenssberg on Sunday, Labour Shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy condemned the Gaza death toll as “abominable”, but when asked if Labour would support the SNP motion, he said he “had not seen the motion”.

Streeting’s comments came after Labour leader Keir Starmer called for a “ceasefire that lasts” at the Scottish Labour conference in Glasgow on Sunday, in an abrupt U-turn on the party's stance on the issue.

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The party leader has repeatedly refused to call for a permanent ceasefire, only recognising the need for a "sustainable ceasefire" in December.

In January, Starmer officially dropped the Labour Party's promise to recognise Palestine as a state unilaterally.

Since 7 October, Labour Party branches have been banned from discussing the conflict and elected representatives "strongly advised" not to attend pro-Palestine demonstrations, according to eight Labour councillors in Oxford.

Dozens of the party's elected councillors have quit the party in protest over the refusal of the leadership to support a ceasefire. Some 56 Labour MPs broke with the leadership to support a ceasefire in a House of Commons vote in November.

The abrupt shift in party stance comes as a wave of independent candidates are running against Labour MPs who failed to vote for a ceasefire in a parliamentary vote in November.

British Palestinian, Leanne Mohamad, is set to challenge Streeting for his seat in Redbridge, while former Nelson Mandela adviser, Andrew Feinstein, is preparing to contest Starmer’s Holborn and St Pancras constituency.

According to polling commissioned by the Labour Muslim Network (LMN), 60 percent of Muslims surveyed nationally would vote for Labour, down from 86 percent in 2021.

In another interview with Times Radio, Streeting said that Labour had “taken a lot of criticism within the Muslim community… but also more broadly”.

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