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Labour’s Shadow Minister for Crime Reduction has become the first member of Starmer’s team to effectively quit over the Labour leader’s opposition to calling for an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, amid Israel’s military response to Hamas’ October terror attacks.
In a speech to the Commons, the Labour shadow minister and Bradford West MP said: “Our values push us to do better, and this is why despite all the risks to our personal positions, we must do what is right…
“A Palestinian child is killed every 10 minutes. For the people of Palestine, every minute, every hour, every day we wait is another orphan, another grieving mother and another family wiped out.
“This is why in standing to save innocent lives of both Palestinians and Israelis, and representing the people of Bradford West, in today’s motion I will be voting for an immediate ceasefire.”
After her defiant address to MPs, Shah told Byline Times: “I have never voted against my party and should this mean that I lose my frontbench position, it’s something I’m willing to accept as this is about more than me – it’s about innocent Palestinians losing their lives.”
Sir Keir Starmer’s spokesman appeared to confirm to journalists on Wednesday afternoon that Labour frontbenchers who defy the party whip – by backing the Scottish National Party’s motion demanding a ceasefire – would be sacked from their posts.
A dozen Labour frontbenchers could defy HQ over the issue, in what could be the Labour leader’s biggest parliamentary rebellion since he was elected. Labour has called for longer ‘humanitarian pauses’ rather than a ceasefire, saying Israel has a right to defend itself and respond to the October 7 attacks.
Shah has held her post since December 2021.
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Naz Shah’s Speech in Full
The attack against innocent Israelis on October 7 was an egregious crime against humanity.
Families of those killed continue to mourn the loss of their loved ones, and families of those taken hostage praying for their safe return. It would be a grave injustice, to not recognise acts of terror committed by Hamas for what they are.
In the same way, it would be a grave injustice if the world turned a blind eye, whilst innocent Palestinians are being murdered by the hour.
More civilians killed in 6 weeks in Gaza – than civilians killed in 20 months in the Russia-Ukraine war. More children killed in Gaza than the annual number of children killed across all conflict zones since 2019.
More UN workers killed in Gaza, than in any comparable period in the UN’s history. More journalists killed in Gaza, than in any conflict period since 1992.
More bombs have been dropped on the Gaza strip in a few weeks of this conflict, than the number of bombs that were dropped on Afghanistan by the U.S.-led coalition in all of 2019, a country which is 1800 times larger than the Gaza strip.
Hospitals have been bombed, refugee camps have been bombed, United Nations schools bombed, Ambulances bombed, bakeries bombed, Mosques and churches bombed, Northern Gaza bombed, Gaza City bombed, Khan Younis Bombed, the Rafah border bombed.
Almost every inch of the Gaza strip has been bombed.
Over 11,000 innocent civilians killed, the hopes, dreams, and futures of nearly 5000 Palestinian children ended in mass graves.
2.3 million people fleeing death and destruction, babies dying in incubators, pregnant women having Cesarean without anaesthetic. No fuel to power hospitals. No food to feed the living and searching for clean water being as rare as searching for gold.
Make no mistake, this is a humanitarian catastrophe. I urge members to back an immediate ceasefire on all sides and push for the release of hostages.
It’s a call backed by 120 members of the U N Security council, backed by 17 UN Agencies, backed by the UN General Secretary, backed by the World Health Organisation, backed by the World Food Programme, backed by Amnesty International, backed by over 600 leading international NGOs including Oxfam, Save the children, Christian Aid, Medical Aid for Palestinians, The international committee for refugees, backed by the Pope and Archbishop of Canterbury, backed by the overwhelming British public and now backed by President Macron of France.
Calls for an immediate ceasefire are growing day by day, and seen as the only viable solution to future peace in the region.
Almost every single international aid agency in the entire world is saying vital humanitarian aid cannot be delivered without a ceasefire.
The very agencies whose expertise we rely upon in other conflicts and take their lead, so why not this time?
We need a political solution to an issue which leads to peace, not one that ends in a way which is so horrific, it emboldens more terror in the region.
Injustice is the greatest barrier to peace, and the truth is we cannot expect peace unless we enable justice to be delivered.
And nothing symbolises our British values better than the statue of lady justice towering over the Old Bailey.
Figuratively blinded because justice is unbiased, the scales representing the impartiality of decisions and the sword, a symbol of the power of justice.
These values embody our British way of life, and the lens which the world sees us through.
But when Israel acts with impunity and attacks Hospitals, UN schools and refugee camps, and the case for the Palestinians is vetoed by the US and UK at the international criminal Court then the world asks if our justice is really unbiased.
When we rightfully condemn extremist and genocidal statements by Hamas but fail to utter a single word about the genocidal rhetoric being spouted by Netanyahu and his right-wing government – then the world asks, are our scales of justice truly impartial?
When we follow the path of justice and the rule of law in the face of Putin’s aggression, but yet Israel continues to defy UN resolutions with empty words and no action . Then the world wonders where is the sword of justice?
When we fail to provide equal application of justice, then in the eyes of the world, it is “one rule for the allies of the US, and another for the rest.”
These are not my words, but the words uttered by the former Labour Foreign secretary, the late Robin Cook, in this very chamber – that sadly ring true 20 years on,
Our values push us to do better, and this is why despite all the risks to our personal positions, we must do what is right.
Whilst it may be a matter of convention to follow our closest ally, the US in interests of foreign policy, it is a matter of conscience to step away from our closest ally, in the interests of peace.
We know that eventually there will be a ceasefire in this current crisis. Every war ends with a cessation of hostilities. The question is not if there will be a ceasefire but when.
A Palestinian child is killed every 10 minutes. For the people of Palestine, every minute, every hour, every day we wait is another orphan, another grieving mother and another family wiped out.
This is why in standing to save innocent lives of both Palestinians and Israelis, and representing the people of Bradford West, in today’s motion I will be voting for an immediate ceasefire.
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