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SNP write to MPs on eve of Gaza ceasefire vote

The SNP has written to every MP urging them to "vote with your conscience for an immediate ceasefire" - on the eve of the vote in the House of Commons.

It comes as humanitarian groups urged MPs to back the motion. Ahead of the vote, Amnesty International Scotland Director Neil Cowan said "The motion for an immediate ceasefire should be unreservedly supported by all parties and all MPs - not with ifs, buts or other qualifications."

A copy of the SNP's letter to all MPs is below.

House Of Commons address and crowned portcullis emblem

Tuesday 20 February 2024

Dear Member of Parliament,

Tomorrow, MPs will have the chance to vote for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and Israel.

The SNP has now officially tabled our motion calling on the UK government and parliament to press for an immediate ceasefire - and we expect this to go to a vote on Wednesday evening.

As you will be aware, the SNP forced a similar vote in November. Despite a significant number of MPs supporting us, regrettably, that vote failed because Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer ordered their MPs to oppose an immediate ceasefire.

Since Westminster voted against a ceasefire, thousands of innocent Palestinian children, women and men have been killed - and huge swathes of Gaza have been obliterated, including hospitals, family homes and refugee camps.

The death toll now stands at more than 29,000 civilians - with UN workers, journalists, doctors, nurses and pregnant women among those killed by Israeli military strikes. Every day, mothers are burying their children - with more than 7,700 killed. Many of those lucky enough to survive are losing their parents and grandparents to bombs and bullets, with more children orphaned every day.

We know, if this conflict continues a moment longer, the scale of this humanitarian disaster will become even more unimaginable. Around two million Palestinians have been displaced, the threat of starvation is growing - and the refugees who were driven to Rafah, in the hope of safety, are now facing the impending threat of a full scale military assault.

For five months, the UK has followed Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer's strategy of equivocation. The death toll shows that strategy has comprehensively failed. The time for equivocation is over - the UK must back an immediate ceasefire now.

By failing to join the UN, world leaders and humanitarian organisations in calling for an immediate ceasefire - the UK has made one less likely. It’s time for Westminster to end its silence and say - 'enough is enough'.

No one is pretending this is a simple situation, or that one vote will magically result in a ceasefire overnight - but a ceasefire is more likely to happen if the UK parliament and government join international pressure, than if they fail.

I'm sure you will agree, this is a defining vote for any MP. I am therefore urging each and every one of you to vote with your conscience for an immediate ceasefire. I hope Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer will find the courage to change their position and do the only right thing but, if they won't, it falls to us, MPs of all parties, to show we demand a ceasefire now.

That clear statement, and clear intent, is the only message that Prime Minister Netanyahu and his government will understand. It is the best pressure we can now apply. By finally joining the vast majority of the international community in pressing for that ceasefire, we can instigate a fresh diplomatic effort to stop the slaughter of even more innocent civilians and children.

That diplomatic effort to demand a ceasefire now is the only way to stop the imminent assault on Rafah, secure the unconditional release of all the remaining hostages taken by Hamas, get vital aid into Gaza, and finally put an end to the collective punishment of the Palestinian people.

Yours sincerely,

Stephen Flynn MP
SNP Westminster Leader

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