THE SNP has said that the UK’s decision to abstain on a United Nations vote for a ceasefire in Gaza showed a shameful lack of international leadership.

On Friday evening the United Nations Security Council held a vote calling for an urgent cessation of hostilities, with nearly all members voting in favour.

Out of the 15 members, 13 voted in favour of the resolution - with the UK abstaining and the United States blocking the motion.

UK ambassador to the UN Dame Barbara Woodward said Britain backs “further and longer pauses” to get aid to Palestinians and to allow the release of Israeli hostages.

But she argued to the council that “we cannot vote in favour of a resolution which does not condemn the atrocities Hamas committed against innocent Israeli civilians” on October 7.

Following the vote, aid agencies including Oxfam and Save the Children labelled the decision “appalling”.

Commenting, SNP foreign affairs spokesperson Brendan O’Hara MP said: “The pictures and accounts coming out of Gaza get more distressing by the day - the case for an immediate ceasefire is clear to everyone.

“Such enormous suffering cannot be allowed to continue – innocent civilians must be able to exercise their basic human rights and recover from the devastation that has followed the October 7th terror attacks.

“By failing to stand up for innocent lives the UK has shown a shameful lack of international leadership - and chosen to be on the wrong side of history.”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said before the vote: “Attacks from air, land and sea are intense, continuous and widespread.”

He said Gaza residents “are being told to move like human pinballs – ricocheting between ever-smaller slivers of the south, without any of the basics for survival”.

Guterres told the council that Gaza was at “a breaking point” with the humanitarian support system at risk of total collapse, and that he feared “the consequences could be devastating for the security of the entire region”.

Gaza’s borders with Israel and with Egypt are effectively sealed, leaving Palestinians with no option other than to try to seek refuge within the territory.

The overall death toll in Gaza since the start of the war has surpassed 17,400, the majority of them women and children, according to the health ministry in Hamas-controlled Gaza, which does not differentiate between civilians and combatants in its count.

Israel holds Hamas responsible for civilian casualties, accusing the militants of using civilians as human shields, and says it has made considerable efforts with its evacuation orders to get civilians out of harm’s way.