Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn.
By Bill Heaney
SNP leader Stephen Flynn told the House of Commons yesterday that in 2010, the then Prime Minister and now Foreign Secretary, David Cameron, said: “People in Gaza are living under constant attacks and pressure in an open-air prison.”
And he asked Rishi Sunak: “Does the current Prime Minister not agree that if there is not an immediate ceasefire, we all in this Chamber will be watching on as that open-air prison is turned into a graveyard?”
The Prime Minister replied: “No one can deny the suffering that the people in Gaza are undergoing at the moment. I spoke about this on Monday, and I spoke about it consistently with Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the Palestinian Authority.
“We are doing everything we can to get aid into the region and we have repeatedly and consistently called for humanitarian pauses, to get aid in and get hostages and foreign nationals out as quickly as possible. We will continue, as will the Foreign Secretary, to make sure that happens.”
Stephen Flynn had a large raft of sympathisers, when he then asked: “How much worse does it need to get? In Gaza, 4,609 children are already dead. Babies in the neonatal intensive care unit are dying because they do not have access to oxygen.
“For Members across the House, this is a question of values and of conscience. Does the Prime Minister not agree that should there be a vote on an immediate ceasefire, Members across the House should be afforded a free vote?”
However, the Prime Minister told him: “Our position as a Government is clear: it is right that Israel is able to defend itself. That is a principle that we support. It has suffered an appalling terrorist attack—Hamas is a terrorist organisation—and it is not just Israel’s right but its duty to protect its citizens.
“At the same time, at the United Nations and bilaterally with all our partners we have consistently called for humanitarian pauses to ensure that more aid can get in, and hostages and foreign nationals can get out. That is the right thing to do.
“We will continue to do everything we can to alleviate the suffering of the Palestinian people. I am confident that our efforts are already making a big difference on the ground.”