Sunak fails to endorse calls for Israel-Hamas ceasefire

Rishi Sunak has failed to endorse cross-party calls for a cessation of hostilities between Israel and Hamas.

In response to a question from the SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn, the prime minster said Israel has a “right to defend itself, to protect its people and to act against terrorism and ensure that the awful attack we’ve seen from Hamas cannot happen again”.

He added: “And unlike Hamas, the Israelis, including the president, have made it clear that their armed forces will operate accordance with international law. And we will continue to urge the Israelis to take every precaution to avoid harming civilians.”

Mr Sunak’s words came after more than 30 MPs supported calls for an immediate cessation of hostilities between both sides to protect further loss of civilian life.

Thirty-seven MPs, including 26 from Labour, backed an early day motion urging Mr Sunak and his Foreign Secretary James Cleverly to “press all parties to agree to an immediate de-escalation and cessation of hostilities, for the release of the Israeli hostages, an end to the total siege of Gaza and for unfettered access of lifesaving humanitarian aid”.

The motion, which was also signed by Conservative MP and father of the house Sir Peter Bottomley, said that parliament “utterly condemns the massacre of Israeli civilians and taking of hostages by Hamas” and that it agrees with the United Nations Secretary-General that “these horrific acts do not justify responding with the collective punishment of the Palestinian people”

It went on to say that parliament “expresses its deep alarm at the Israeli military bombardment and total siege of Gaza and the resulting deaths and suffering” and that the “urgent priority” must be to “stop the deaths and suffering of any more civilians in Gaza and Israel”.

MPs use early day motion to put on record their views and those of their colleagues as well as to draw attention to specific events or campaigns.