Keir Starmer says he ‘shudders to think what state Gaza hostages will be in’

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Keir Starmer says he ‘shudders to think what state Gaza hostages will be in’

Asked about Israel arms sale ban Labour leader says working towards ceasefire remains his 'number one priority'

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Keir Starmer outlines national security strategy
Keir Starmer outlines national security strategy

Keir Starmer has said his “number one priority” in relation to the continued conflict in Gaza would be to continue working with allies towards getting Israel and Hamas to agree to a ceasefire, when asked about his position on arms sales to the Jewish state.

Asked about a letter sent to him from actors,  musicians, writers and directors calling on him to halt arm sales to Israel if elected prime minister, Starmer said the “first and most fundamental thing is getting that ceasefire.”

But he said he believed the UK government should follow the American lead in reviewing whether arms were used in any offensive in Rafah, which Starmer said he opposed going ahead.

Speaking at an event in Greater Manchester, where he said his Labour government would introduce a “nuclear triple lock” and increase defence spending to 2.5 % of GDP, Starmer was later asked about the letter sent to him on arm sales to Israel.

He described the scenes in Gaza as “horrifying” before outlining why he believed a ceasefire was so desperately needed.

Starmer explained his priorities, adding:”Ensuring we get hostages out…  I shudder to think what state they will be in.

“To make sure we get humanitarian aid in, desperately needed, and that duty we will have if we come into power to play our full part in resolving the conflict, for the long-term.
“And that will only happen if we work with our allies….That has to be the only way forward.”

On the question of arms sales to Israel, Starmer said “it is, obviously,  for the government to review the licenses. They do it one by one.

“They have got legal advice, we have been pressing them to disclose that legal advice.”
Starmer added:”Obviously if we come into power we will be able to see that advice, or commission our own.”

He said:”I will just add this, the Rafah offensive should not go ahead. 

“I think our government should follow the U.S. lead on this in relation to arm sales and review the licenses to see whether any of them would be or are being used in the Rafah offensive.”

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