SNP deputy leader questions need for Hamas to lay down arms in a Gaza ceasefire

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SNP deputy leader questions need for Hamas to lay down arms in a Gaza ceasefire

In Wednesday's chaotic Commons debate, Mhairi Black asked why a Labour motion included the 'caveat that Israel cannot be expected to cease fighting if Hamas continues with violence'

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Mhairi Black SNP
Mhairi Black SNP

The SNP’s deputy leader in Westminster has openly questioned why a call for a Gaza ceasefire should include the need for terror group Hamas to also put down its arms.

In an intervention during Wednesday’s chaotic Commons debate, Mhairi Black defended her party’s call for an immediate ceasefire to hostilities between Hamas and Israel, before asking why a Labour Party motion “includes a caveat that notes that ‘Israel cannot be expected to cease fighting if Hamas continues with violence’.”

Paisley and Renfrewshire South MP Black, then added: “Hamas is not the people of Palestine, so why is that line in the Labour amendment?”

Her comments, directed at shadow foreign secretary David Lammy, sparked widespread anger after they were confirmed in Parliament’s official records Hansard.

Commons Hansard record of Mhairi Black comment

Luke Akehurst, director of the grassroots campaign group We Believe In Israel, told Jewish News: “This odd statement by Mhiari Black shows the SNP don’t actually understand what a ceasefire is – an agreement by both sides to stop a war.

“They seem to be calling only for Israel to cease operations, while Hamas would be free to continue rocket attacks and other forms of terrorism.”

Another senior Labour source said Black’s comments were an example of the SNP “unashamed anti-Israel” stance.

During the debate, Labour’s David Lammy responded to Black saying: “It is crystal clear that if we expect Israel to lay down its arms we must ask Hamas to do the same.”

Jewish News contacted Black, elected in 2015 as a 20-year-old, and the main SNP press office for comment over her remarks.

Black later said that elsewhere in her speech she had stated the actions of Hamas “were horrific and unjustifiable.”

David Lammy MP speaks at Labour Equalities event in Southwark

The SNP, led by Stephen Flynn in Westminster, have been heavily criticised for using an opposition day debate on Wednesday to try to fuel divisions in Labour over its stance on Gaza.

Conservative and Labour MPs lined up to criticise the SNP’s motion, which failed to condemn Hamas as it called for an “immediate ceasefire” and also offered no confirmation that the party backed a two-state solution.

Sir Michael Elis, the former attorney general, said the SNP “woefully” failed to recognise the reality of the situation in Gaza. He added:”I am sorry to say the SNP are not interested in a solution that would safeguard Gaza and allow an Israeli victory over Hamas.”

Labour’s Andrew Gwynne accused the SNP of “playing party political football with the most atrocious situation in the Middle East.”

The party have also been rocked by claims of antisemitism among some of its politicians

In February 2023, Black met with Jewish communal leaders in Scotland, and had also commented that finding out that some members of the community fear to identify publicly as Jewish had made a strong impression on her at an event the previous November.

Last July she said she was quitting politics at the next election blaming a “poisonous” working environment and “abuse” which she said had harmed her mental health.

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