FIRST Minister Humza Yousaf has written to Rishi Sunak calling for the UK to officially recognise the State of Palestine.

The letter – sent ahead of a debate on the conflict in the Middle East in the Scottish Parliament - has also been sent to Labour leader Keir Starmer.

As well as calling for recognition of a Palestinian state, Yousaf once again urged the UK Government to call for an immediate ceasefire. 

In the letter, Yousaf said: “It is essential and urgent that the UK makes clear to the Israeli Government, and to the world, that in line with support for a two state solution, only Palestinians can have authority in Gaza.

“The UK needs to work with the international community to break, once and for all, the political impasse that has condemned Israelis and the Palestinians to successive cycles of violence. 

READ MORE: LIVE: Scottish Parliament to debate motion on Gaza ceasefire

“This would be assisted were the UK to recognise the State of Palestine within the 1967 borders, as over 130 members of the United Nations, including nine members of the European Union, have done and as the new Spanish Government has pledged.

“Recognition would offer hope to Palestinians that a just and durable political solution is possible.”

In the letter, Yousaf added the Scottish Government is “deeply concerned” about the latest warnings from Israel to Palestinians living and sheltering in Khan Younis - a city in the southern Gaza Strip - to vacate the area.

He added: “The humanitarian consequences of this are hard to overstate.  Following the forced evacuation of the population from the north of Gaza, it reinforces the impression that what we are witnessing is the gradual, but deliberate, expulsion of Palestinians from the entire territory. This, of course, would likely be a breach of international law.”

In October 2014, the House of Commons voted in favour of the following: "That this House believes that the Government should recognise the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel, as a contribution to securing a negotiated two state solution."

This vote was not binding on the Government.

READ MORE: Humza Yousaf's mum-in-law speaks out for first time since Gaza escape

The UK Government has not recognised this statehood, and abstained in the UN General Assembly vote that granted Palestine non-member observer status at the UN.

In February 2021, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said: "The UK will recognise a Palestinian state at a time of our choosing, and when it best serves the objective of peace."

MSPs will debate a Scottish Government motion at approximately 2.50pm on Tuesday calling for an “immediate ceasefire” in the Middle East conflict, as well as condemning the “barbaric and unjustifiable” Hamas attacks of October 7 and demanding the release of all hostages taken.

Scottish Labour confirmed on Monday the party would back the calls for a ceasefire, as will the Scottish Greens, Alba and reportedly the LibDems.