'It is a humanitarian catastrophe' - South Tyneside MPs vote to support ceasefire in Gaza

South Tyneside's MPs have refused to tow the party line and backed calls for a ceasefire in Gaza.
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Kate Osborne, the Member of Parliament for Jarrow, and Emma Lewell-Buck, the Member of Parliament for South Shields, voted in favour of a ceasefire in Gaza on Wednesday, November 15.

Both South Tyneside MPs went against the orders of Labour leader, Keir Starmer, who instructed his MPs to vote against an amendment to the King's Speech which called for “all parties to agree to an immediate ceasefire”.

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The amendment, tabled by the SNP, was rejected by a majority of 168, with 293 MPs voting against the proposal, with 125 in support of it.

Speaking after the vote, Kate Osborne branded the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas as a "humanitarian catastrophe" and vowed to continue to push for a ceasefire.

Jarrow MP Kate Osborne.Jarrow MP Kate Osborne.
Jarrow MP Kate Osborne.

The Jarrow MP said: “I have just voted for an immediate ceasefire. What is happening in Gaza is a humanitarian catastrophe.

“For more than a month now, I have been calling for a ceasefire, in the last 24 hours alone hundreds of Jarrow constituents have been in touch urging me to support a ceasefire.

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“In Parliament this week I signed two amendments to the King’s Speech calling for an immediate ceasefire, one of these was selected by the Speaker and I voted for that amendment.

"Unfortunately not enough MPs joined me and neither that amendment nor the Labour Party amendment that I voted for tonight were successful.

“The awful scenes that continue to emerge from Israel, Gaza, and the rest of occupied Palestine have added to the decades of horror and despair that has unfolded there.

“The massacre of Israeli civilians by Hamas is a heinous crime, which I fully condemn, and Hamas should immediately release all hostages.

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“The Palestinian civilians being killed now are not responsible for these atrocities.

“More than 11,000 Palestinians - have been killed by the Israeli military. Most of the 11,000 have been women and children.

“Today's vote isn't about party politics; it’s about recognising our common humanity and taking a clear stand against the killing and collective punishment of innocent civilians.

“I believe the UK Government should join the growing demand globally for an immediate ceasefire and I will continue to push for a ceasefire now.

Emma Lewell-Buck, MP for South Shields.Emma Lewell-Buck, MP for South Shields.
Emma Lewell-Buck, MP for South Shields.
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In a statement before yesterday's vote, Emma Lewell-Buck told her constituents how she would vote in the House of Commons and expressed her sympathies to those caught up in the conflict.

She commented: "I am calling for a ceasefire in Israel and Gaza because this shocking level of human suffering cannot continue.

It is now more than a month since Hamas carried out its inhumane and sickening terrorist attacks against Israel on 7th October.

"My heart goes out to the innocent Israeli men, women and children who were killed or are still missing.

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"The holding of hostages by Hamas is a war crime, and every hostage must be immediately released, without preconditions.

"Israel absolutely has the right to defend its citizens against acts of terrorism, and to rescue the hostages taken by Hamas.

"All measures taken should be targeted directly towards Hamas in line with international humanitarian law.

"The UN, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have all been vocal about Israel violating such law in Gaza.

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"It cannot be right for unspeakable violence to be met with more unspeakable violence.

"The civilians of Gaza, including 1.2 million children, bear no collective guilt for Hamas' terror and must be protected.

"Gaza has been described as a graveyard for children. The number of children killed in the first four weeks of conflict in Gaza was more than the number killed in wars globally in each of the last three years.

"This cataclysmic loss of life cannot continue.

"In my statement on 18th October, I called for a ceasefire to preserve innocent lives. My position has not changed.

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"Not only would a ceasefire give the opportunity for vital aid to reach civilians in Gaza, but according to international human rights and conflict resolution organisations, it would also enable further opportunities for safe and successful hostage negotiation.

"Intensive bombardment of Gaza renders the safe transfer of hostages immeasurably more difficult and has the potential to kill the very innocents whom Israel hopes to save.

"I will be voting for a ceasefire in Parliament this evening, and, although this vote does not force an end to hostilities, international pressure does have an effect. The UK should join the UN in pressing for a ceasefire.

"Every civilian death, Israeli and Palestinian, is an absolute tragedy and builds an ever-greater barrier to the prospect of a peaceful two-state solution."

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The vote was the biggest rebellion that Keir Starmer has faced in his time as Labour leader, with 10 shadow ministers and parliamentary aides resigning from their roles to vote in favour of the ceasefire.

Jess Phillips, the shadow minister for domestic violence, was among the frontbenchers who either quit or were sacked.