Our Parliament must back a ceasefire in Gaza - Lorna Slater

​Our Parliament must vote to back United Nations calls for a ceasefire and humanitarian aid for the people of Gaza.
Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity, Lorna SlaterMinister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity, Lorna Slater
Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity, Lorna Slater

Just as human rights must apply to all of us equally, so too must international law.

The terror that Hamas inflicted on October 7 was an appalling act of violence. So is the taking of hostages. Every second that the people seized by Hamas are held against their will is an awful crime.

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But these horrors cannot justify knowingly withholding food, water and electricity from people in Gaza. What we have seen over the last six weeks is collective punishment of two million people and it is the most vulnerable who are suffering most.

First Minister Humza YousafFirst Minister Humza Yousaf
First Minister Humza Yousaf

The thousands of bombs that have been dropped have only added to the devastation as 15,000 people have been killed. Even if the bombing stopped now the rebuilding would take years, with schools, hospitals and homes having been destroyed.

Gaza has a very young population. Over half of its people are children. Behind every death is a human life and a story that was never allowed to be fully lived. How many more need to lose their opportunity at life?

In times like this it’s not enough to urge restraint. In the face of these atrocities, there is a moral responsibility on all politicians and governments to actively stand for peace and call for the release of hostages taken by Hamas and an end to the bombardment.

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Last week Westminster faced a basic moral test and failed badly. MPs had the power to ensure the UK used its international influence to support calls for a ceasefire, but instead Tory and most Labour MPs lined up together and voted down calls for a ceasefire.

The Scottish Government has taken a very different position, with the First Minister, Humza Yousaf, being commended around the world for the huge personal strength and empathy he has shown at a time when far too many leaders have done the opposite.

If the international community and governments like ours in Scotland use our voice to take a bold and unequivocal stance for peace then it can make a difference. The longer the bombing continues the more people will suffer. As suffering deepens, so too does the despair that sows the seeds of future violence.

So I hope today’s vote will be a moment of unity for our parliament, and that MSPs from all parties can come together and send a clear and unambiguous message of peace and solidarity with everyone who has suffered.

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If we are to see lasting peace it will need a negotiated agreement which respects the right of both peoples to safety and security. That is what I will be supporting today, and I hope all MSPs will do the same.

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