Humza Yousaf calls on UK to officially recognise the state of Palestine

The First Minister has written to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak

Humza Yousaf has written to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak calling on the UK to officially recognise the state of Palestine.

The First Minister said the move would help “break, once and for all, the political impasse that has condemned Israelis and the Palestinians to successive cycles of violence”.

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It came as MSPs overwhelmingly backed calls for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza by 90 votes to 28 following a debate in Holyrood on Tuesday.

First Minister Humza YousafFirst Minister Humza Yousaf
First Minister Humza Yousaf

Only the Scottish Conservatives failed to support a motion tabled by Mr Yousaf. Donald Cameron, the Tory party’s external affairs spokesman, praised the First Minister during the debate, but said a ceasefire “requires both of the two opposing sides to support it” and it had “been clear for some time now” that Hamas would not. The Tories instead called for a humanitarian pause.

Mr Yousaf’s in-laws were previously trapped in Gaza for more than three weeks after visiting family, but managed to cross the border to safety earlier this month and are now back home in Dundee.

In his letter to Mr Sunak, the First Minister said: “The support the UK Government has given to Israel, while the devastation in Gaza has grown, increases the moral responsibility on it to use whatever influence it has to stop the killing now. An immediate ceasefire is the only way in which the killing and suffering of innocent civilians can be brought to an end. I again call upon you to support an immediate ceasefire.”

He added: “It is essential and urgent that the UK makes clear to the Israeli Government, and to the world, that in line with support for a two-state solution, only Palestinians can have authority in Gaza. Of course, that authority must be exercised in a way that ensures the people of Israel, as well as Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, are able to live in peace and security.

“The UK needs to work with the international community to break, once and for all, the political impasse that has condemned Israelis and the Palestinians to successive cycles of violence. This would be assisted were the UK to recognise the state of Palestine within the 1967 borders, as over 130 members of the United Nations, including nine members of the European Union, have done and as the new Spanish Government has pledged.

“Recognition would offer hope to Palestinians that a just and durable political solution is possible. It would make it plain to the Israeli Government that a military solution is illusory and the expulsion of Palestinians from Gaza is unacceptable.

“I urge you to show the international leadership you claim for the UK by calling for an immediate ceasefire by all sides, and by announcing the UK Government’s recognition of the state of Palestine.”

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The First Minister also condemned what he described as the “gradual, but deliberate, expulsion of Palestinians from the entire territory” following a warning by the Israeli government for Palestinians to vacate the city of Khan Yunis, in the south of the Gaza Strip. The UK Government, he added, should refer both Hamas and Israel to the International Criminal Court for investigation of any potential war crimes.

Scottish Labour’s support for Mr Yousaf’s motion contrasts with the party’s position in Westminster, where UK leader Sir Keir Starmer whipped MPs to reject ceasefire amendments.



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