FIRST Minister Humza Yousaf has blasted Keir Starmer for a "lack of moral courage and leadership" after he refused to call for a ceasefire in Gaza.

The Labour leader gave a speech in London on Tuesday morning on the Israel-Hamas war, in a bid to stem growing rebellions within his party over his stance on the conflict.

Starmer previously prompted outrage in some quarters of his party, as well as a number of resignations by councillors and Scottish officials, after he told LBC that Israel had the right to withhold energy and water from Gaza.

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In his speech at Chatham House, the Labour leader claimed a ceasefire would cause more violence and "embolden" Hamas.

Instead, he has suggested that a humanitarian pause to let aid in and hostages out of Gaza is the only credible approach to the crisis.

Starmer was met by furious protesters outside the venue, who mobbed his car shouting "shame" and demanding a ceasefire. 

The National:

And now, Scotland's First Minister has joined criticism of Starmer's stance. 

Writing on Twitter/X, Yousaf said: "Keir Starmer's stance lacks moral courage & leadership.

"A humanitarian pause will only temporarily stop the killing of children, over 3000 have already reportedly been killed in Gaza.

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"We need a ceasefire now. Otherwise, we are accepting thousands more civilians will be killed."

It comes as Scottish Greens co-leader Lorna Slater also condemned Starmer's lack of leadership.

“Every hour that passes without Starmer using his influence to call for a ceasefire sends a signal that a future Labour government would refuse to act to end such a humanitarian disaster," she said. 

The National: Lorna Slater in Holyrood
“The crisis in Gaza is getting rapidly worse. There is an urgent need for an immediate ceasefire and humanitarian corridors to allow safe passage for aid and displaced people. Starmer must recognise that. 
“He is a former human rights lawyer. Surely he cannot fail to be moved by the plight of those Palestinians trapped by Israel's intense bombing and now their ground invasion?
“Even his own Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar and London Mayor Sadiq Khan have joined growing calls for a ceasefire, but they are being dismissed by a Leader of the Opposition who is showing a serious lack of compassion or principle.

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“Only Labour are standing with the Tories on this, every other party is calling for a ceasefire. Little wonder so many of Starmer's Labour colleagues feel forced to break ranks and speak out while he remains silent.”

Shadow ministers were among senior Labour figures demanding a change in Starmer's stance, with frontbencher Alex Cunningham calling for an “immediate ceasefire” less than an hour before he delivered his speech.

The National:

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar (above) also criticised Starmer, claiming he had made “hurtful” comments about the conflict and there was “repair work to do” to mend bridges with Muslim communities.

Yasmin Qureshi, Jess Phillips and Imran Hussain are among other frontbench figures who have joined calls for an end to the fighting.

And, Starmer has also been at odds over its stance on Israel with devolved mayors like Andy Burnham and Sadiq Khan, and with Labour-led councils across England.