Senedd to debate call for a ceasefire in the Israel-Gaza war

The Welsh Parliament has no responsibility for international issues but has from time to time expressed its view, which is what Senedd Members are being urged to do today. Credit: PA images

Senedd Members will debate later whether or not they should call for a ceasefire in the Israel-Gaza war. 

The debate led by Plaid Cymru could see Labour members split over the call. Mark Drakeford and UK leader Keir Starmer have both been criticised by some in their own party for not backing a ceasefire. 

The Welsh Parliament has no responsibility for international issues but has from time to time expressed its view, which is what Senedd Members are being urged to do today.

Plaid Cymru’s leader Rhun ap Iorwerth says that his party condemns the “horrifying attacks” by Hamas against Israeli people but still insists that an “immediate ceasefire” is needed. 

He said “Plaid Cymru is urging every member in the Senedd to unite behind a ceasefire so that our national parliament sends a clear message for humanity and peace.

“We welcome the support of Labour and Liberal Democrat Members who have already signed our motion or indicated their support, and hope that many others will do so during the debate.”

It’s possible that Plaid Cymru could win the debate which would put on record that the Welsh Parliament (rather than the Welsh Government) takes the view that an immediate ceasefire should happen.

The Liberal Democrat Senedd Member Jane Dodds agreed, saying that “Now is the time for an immediate ceasefire to the war, so that desperately needed medical and food aid is allowed into Gaza.

“The people of Gaza and Israel do not deserve to suffer death and destruction, they deserve a just peace.”

Labour backbenchers are free to take different sides. Two have already signed the Plaid Cymru motion while another two have co-submitted a motion with the Welsh Conservatives which calls for humanitarian pauses but backs Israel’s right to defend itself. 

Conservative Shadow Minister Darren Millar said that “It is important that the Senedd sends a clear message to the people of Israel and Palestine that we want to see a long and lasting peace settlement for the good of both the Israeli and Palestinian people.

“The terror attacks and kidnappings by Hamas and the devastating images that we are now seeing from Gaza have been heartbreaking. 

“We must all redouble our efforts for peace and seek an urgent end to the conflict.”

Labour Welsh Government ministers are expected to abstain which is “standard pratice,” I’m told, in debates.

It’s not clear whether or not the Health Minister Eluned Morgan will vote. She wrote in an article on Wales Online that “An immediate ceasefire will save hundreds, if not thousands, of innocent lives. 

“On top of this, we must call for Israeli hostages to be released and the world must stand together to condemn the vicious Hamas attacks of 7th of October and the rise in antisemitic behaviour.”

The First Minister Mark Drakeford has been clear in stating why he doesn’t support an immediate ceasefire, issuing a statement last week saying that “I endorse the calls made by Keir Starmer for humanitarian pauses so that aid can urgently get to those who need lit. 

“A pause could create conditions which lead to a ceasefire and then on to the crucial next steps to provide a credible route to the peaceful resolution which is so desperately needed."

The political pressure on Keir Starmer has been widely reported, with one Shadow Cabinet minister, Imran Hussain, resigning over the matter and many other Labour MPs and councillors criticising the UK leader. 

But this week similar pressure has been increasing on Mark Drakeford.

Earlier this week, 46 organisations, including Welsh Labour Grassroots, which represents left-wing Welsh Labour activists, have written to the First Minister saying that his public calls for humanitarian pauses in the conflict are "insufficient."

Twelve Labour backbenchers were among twenty-seven Senedd Members who have signed a Statement of Opinion in the Welsh Parliament calling for “immediate ceasefire.”

And more than 150 cross-party councillors in Wales  signed a letter from the Muslim Council of Wales which calls on leaders of the Senedd’s political parties to back an immediate ceasefire.

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