RISHI Sunak has been urged to recognise the state of Palestine by SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn.

After reiterating calls for the House of Commons to back an immediate ceasefire in the Middle East, Flynn asked the Prime Minister to "lay the foundations" for a two-state solution by officially recognising Palestine as a sovereign state in its own right.

It comes after Israel and Hamas agreed a deal to release 50 hostages being held in Gaza during a four-day pause in fighting. 

Since the Palestinian Declaration of Independence in 1988, more than 100 UN member nations have recognised the state of Palestine but the UK has not.

READ MORE: BBC responds to criticism as Gaza ceasefire calls cut from Scottish Baftas

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."

Flynn asked Sunak at PMQs: "Ultimately it’s not a pause in the killing of children that we need, it’s an end to the killing of children we need.

"I can think of no better time than now for the Prime Minister to advocate for that permanent ceasefire. But since he currently will not do that, will he instead lay the foundations for that two-state solution by finally recognising the state of Palestine?"

Sunak said the UK's position remained the same as it did two years ago. 

He said: "We do support a negotiated settlement leading to a safe and secure Israel living alongside a viable and sovereign Palestinian state.

"I have spoken to President [Mahmoud]Abbas [President of Palestine] and met with him to discuss this issue and we are clear about strengthening the Palestinian authority and reinvigorating efforts to find a two-state solution. 

"Our long-standing position is that we would recognise the state of Palestine when it best serves the interests of peace."

On Tuesday, First Minister Humza Yousaf wrote to Sunak and Keir Starmer asking them to recognise the state of Palestine and make clear to the Israeli Government that "only Palestinians can have authority in Gaza".

After PMQs, Flynn added: "It is extremely disappointing that Rishi Sunak refused to stand up in the House of Commons today and recognise the state of Palestine - and, once again, failed to back a lasting ceasefire.

The National:

“The Prime Minister says he will recognise Palestine as a state ‘when the time is right’ - the right time is now."

Flynn also stressed that a simple pause in fighting in the Middle East was not enough and the Government should call for a permanent ceasefire.

MPs voted 293 to 125 last week to reject an SNP amendment to the King's Speech calling for a ceasefire. A total of 56 Labour MPs voted with the SNP in a major rebellion against Keir Starmer.

Flynn said to Sunak: "I think all of us in the chamber are united in our relief in reports that hostages are due to be released by Hamas in Gaza, but we cannot afford to lose sight of what comes at the other side of the pause.

READ MORE: Scottish Parliament calls for immediate ceasefire in Gaza

"At the end of four days, do we simply see a return to the killing of children in Gaza every 10 minutes, or do we choose in this House to back a permanent ceasefire?"

Sunak maintained it was not right to call for a ceasefire, despite the Scottish and Welsh parliaments now having voted for one.

He replied: "We do welcome the agreement reached overnight and this is something we have consistently pushed for. Of course, we want to see all hostages released including British nationals and I would urge all parties involved to deliver the agreement in full.

"What the agreement reached demonstrates was that it wasn’t right to have a unilateral ceasefire. What was right was to do as we have done, consistently push for a pause that would allow not just for aid to reach people in Gaza, but also for hostages to be released. I’m glad that is being delivered."

Elsewhere at PMQs, SNP MP Kirsten Oswald took Sunak's Government to task on plans to ask disabled people to find jobs that allow them to work from home or risk having their benefits slashed.

Under the changes, to be revealed on Wednesday in the Autumn Statement, hundreds of thousands of people with mobility and mental health problems will be told to search for work they can do remotely.

It means benefits could be reduced by £4680 per year as ministers insist they can no longer be “written off” as incapable of working.

The changes in the rules for claiming benefits will apply to all new claimants from 2025.

Oswald said: "Today his Government will say disabled people have a duty to work from home or lose their benefits, as if a suitable job of this kind can be conjured up at will.

"It should be obvious to anyone that this kind of punitive policy isn’t incentivising work, it is simply punishing disabled people who are already among the most marginalised in our society.

"Can the Prime Minister do his duty and tell us now how many of the 137,000 jobs on the DWP Find a Job website are roles which specify you can work from home?"

Sunak had a short response to the question saying he was proud of the Government's record on supporting disabled people.

On Tuesday, Chief Secretary to the Treasury Laura Trott said there is a "duty on citizens" to work if they are able to.