Senedd Members back call for immediate ceasefire in Gaza Strip

Welsh politicians have backed a call for an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza Strip Credit: PA Images

Senedd Members have backed a call for an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza Strip in an often emotional debate that laid bare a deep divide within Welsh Labour. 

Eleven Labour members supported a Plaid Cymru motion, putting them at odds with their leader, the First Minister Mark Drakeford

Mr Drakeford has taken the same stance as the UK Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer, in calling for “humanitarian pauses” rather than an immediate ceasefire. 

His cabinet were instructed to abstain in tonight’s vote and they all did so, including the Health Minister Eluned Morgan, who last week wrote an article explaining why she supported an immediate ceasefire. 

Labour backbenchers were given a free vote. Four of them voted against the Plaid Cymru motion as did all the Conservative Senedd Members. 

Some of those who spoke in the debate were close to tears as they explained their positions. 

Conservative Darren Millar said "Do we need a ceasefire? Of course we need a ceasefire; we all want an end to the violence. 

“But a ceasefire can only ever be successful if it's observed by both parties in a conflict. So, while we can long for one and hope for one and pray for one here today, the reality is that it is impossible to see."

Labour’s Alun Davies also spoke against the motion but said: "If I believed for a moment that a ceasefire today would create peace tomorrow, I'd vote for it. Good God, I'd vote for it. Of course I would. 

“Do you think that as a parent, I don't see the same images that you see? Do you think I don't see my children in those faces? 

“Do you think that I don't go to bed with those faces in my mind? And don't you think that all of us don't share that same sense of humanity?”

On the other side of the argument, his fellow Labour MS, Jenny Rathbone, said that "Failure to act and augment the clamour for a ceasefire is likely to lead to the death, not just of thousands, but of hundreds of thousands of people. 

“We cannot be a bystander in this appalling conflict."

And ending the debate, the Plaid Cymru leader Rhun ap Iorwerth urged members to support the motion saying that "We shouldn't give up as lives are indiscriminately lost. We can't lose hope. We shouldn't be afraid to speak up."

In the end the motion was passed by 24 votes to 19 against with 13 abstentions. 

The result was greeted with cheers and applause from an almost-full public gallery. Earlier applause had been discouraged by the Llywydd or Presiding Officer. 

At the end of an emotional debate, a powerful call for an immediate ceasefire in the Middle East had been passed. 

In domestic political terms, it has left Mark Drakeford at odds with many of his fellow Labour Senedd Members and facing similar criticism to that levelled at the UK Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer.