UK Labour chief Starmer says Gaza ceasefire would ’embolden’ Hamas

Britain’s main opposition leader Keir Starmer is defending his decision not to call for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza, amid internal dissent over the stance.

“A ceasefire always freezes any conflict in the state where it currently lies,” he tells the Chatham House international affairs think-tank.

“As we speak, that would leave Hamas with the infrastructure and the capability to carry out the sort of attack we saw on October 7,” he adds. “Hamas would be emboldened and start preparing for future violence immediately.”

Starmer has instead called for a humanitarian pause to Israel’s bombardment to allow much-needed aid to reach ordinary Palestinians unable to leave the coastal enclave.

Pauses in the fighting “for clear and specific humanitarian purposes — and which must start immediately — is right in practice, as well as principle,” he says.

“In fact, it is, at this moment, the only credible approach that has any chance of achieving what we all want to see in Gaza: the urgent alleviation of Palestinian suffering, aid distributed quickly, space to get hostages out.”

“Open-ended military action… without a clear and desired political outcome is ultimately futile,” he adds, noting that Israel’s right to self-defense is “not a blank check.”

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