Lammy tells Labour’s Gaza rebels ‘hard diplomacy’ needed for peace as he visits Israel

Shadow foreign secretary David Lammy has told Labour’s Gaza rebels that “hard diplomacy” is required for the conflict to end, as he visits Israel and the West Bank to meet regional leaders.

It marks the first visit by a member of Sir Keir Starmer’s team to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories since Hamas’s 7 October atrocity sparked a full-scale war.

Mr Lammy will meet with politicians including Israeli president Isaac Herzog after calling for a “longer pause” to the conflict to alleviate the “shocking” humanitarian emergency in Gaza.

Mr Lammy will also meet with the Palestinian Authority’s deputy foreign minister Amal Jadou in the West Bank.

Sir Keir has been battling a major rift in his party, with eight frontbenchers having resigned while 56 Labour MPs defied his position in order to vote to support a ceasefire.

Rejecting calls for a ceasefire, Mr Lammy said peace “won’t happen simply by affirming that we want it to happen”.

He added: “Hard diplomacy is required with all governments in the region to deliver a longer pause immediately, to respond to the shocking humanitarian emergency in Gaza, secure the release of hostages so cruelly taken by Hamas, and as a necessary step to an enduring cessation of violence.”

The shadow foreign secretary also criticised successive Tory governments and the UK’s international allies for failing to realise the threat posed by Hamas ahead of the 7 October bloodshed.

He said political leaders had been complacent in their failure to work for a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine.

Labour leader Keir Starmer has come under huge pressure to back a ceasefire (PA)
Labour leader Keir Starmer has come under huge pressure to back a ceasefire (PA)

“The international community, including successive Conservative governments, must learn the lessons of decades of failure to resolve this conflict. For too long our leaders have been content with the delusions of wishful thinking when it comes to peace in the Middle East,” said Mr Lammy.

He added: “There has been a failure to deliver the two-state solution that is necessary to deliver long-term peace, security and independence to both Israel and Palestine.”

Meanwhile, shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves said some demonstrations aimed at Labour MPs over their stance on the war in Gaza had “crossed the line from protest to intimidation”.

The senior Labour figure condemned protests outside MPs’ homes as “totally unacceptable” and urged those calling for a ceasefire to do so “in a responsible way”.

She told Sky News: “In a democracy, we elect our MPs and they make decisions. They represent their constituents but they also listen to all of the evidence. Anything that would attempt to intimidate an MP to vote in a certain way, or to put pressure on them – it is anti-democratic, in my view.”

Hundreds of pro-Palestine protesters gathered outside the Labour leader’s office in north London on Saturday demanding that he back a ceasefire and chanting: “Keir Starmer’s a wasteman.”

Sir Keir revealed that he fears for his family’s safety. “I’ve got two children ... and my biggest concern – about the only concern I have, going forward – is asking myself over and over again, particularly at the moment, how do I protect them as we go into this?”

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper is understood to have held discussions with police to ensure Labour MPs’ safety after several incidents.

MPs on both sides of the ceasefire debate have faced abuse since Wednesday’s Commons vote. The constituency office of shadow Welsh secretary Jo Stevens was vandalised after she abstained on the Gaza vote.

Her Cardiff office was covered in red paint and posters that accused the shadow cabinet minister of having blood on her hands.

Naz Shah, who quit the Labour front bench to support a ceasefire, said she had received “Islamophobic hatred”, which she has reported to the police.