SCOTTISH Labour’s newest MP should represent his constituents and call for an immediate ceasefire in the Middle East, activists have demanded.

Michael Shanks – who abstained in a Westminster vote on a ceasefire in November - was panned by more than a dozen furious protesters outside Rutherglen Town Hall who branded him a “career politician”.

Amina Khaliq, a member of Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, insisted his position was “weak” and did not reflect the views of the constituency - Rutherglen and Hamilton West - he was elected to represent in October.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar was delivering a speech at the town hall on Monday setting out his party’s priorities for 2024, but he and Shanks were met with chants of “Michael Shanks,  you can’t hide, you’re supporting genocide”. 

It made for an awkward start to the new year for Sarwar after he voted for a ceasefire in the Scottish Parliament.

READ MORE: Palestinians flee central Gaza’s main hospital amid increased fighting

Police had to be called after protesters attempted to gain entry into the venue.

Khaliq told The National Shanks’ position was “unacceptable”, particularly after Humza Yousaf condemned Israel’s push for “ethnic cleansing”.

She said: “Michael Shanks’s position on Gaza is untenable.

“Abstaining is a cowardly position and we’re here to demand Michael Shanks represent his constituents and demand an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

The National:

“It’s undeniably a genocide. Too many children are being killed and slaughtered on a daily basis and we have to be a voice for the voiceless.

“We have to stand up for the people in Palestine who have no voice and have not been listened to for 75 years.”

Shanks joined with fellow Labour MP Ian Murray in abstaining from voting on an SNP amendment to the King’s Speech which called for an immediate ceasefire.

Instead, they both backed Keir Starmer’s amendment which instead called for longer humanitarian pauses.

Asked how she felt about Sarwar being unable to command his MPs to vote for a ceasefire, she added: “It shows disunity among the party.

READ MORE: Comment: We have a moral duty to stand with South Africa over Gaza

“I think Michael Shanks is a career politician. He put his career before morals and doing the right thing. I think to not call for a ceasefire is a weak position.

“It lacks courage and I think after Humza Yousaf’s comments regarding what’s happening in Palestine as being ethnic cleansing, it’s very strange that Michael Shanks continues to avoid this position and puts his career over people.”

Following his speech on Monday morning, Sarwar (below) condemned the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu for using the conflict in Gaza as a “weapon in his own political game”.

He insisted there must be an “an end to illegal occupation” and “an end to illegal settlements that we see in the West Bank”.

At the same time, he appeared to defend the UK Labour party’s stance.

Speaking to journalists, he said: “The idea that the opposition party in the UK somehow is to blame for the actions of a far right government led by Benjamin Netanyahu, I think trivialises what is a really, really serious and important issue.

The National: Anas Sarwar was speaking in Rutherglen about Scottish Labour's priorities

“The tragedy we have right now is just like we have to separate Hamas from the Palestinian people, because they do not represent the Palestinian people who are crying out for peace and crying out for change, neither does Benjamin Netanyahu and his government represent the Israeli people either.”

The ceasefire vote at Westminster November exposed major cracks in Labour as 56 of their MPs voted for the SNP amendment including 10 frontbenchers.

Labour issued a three-line whip to its MPs requiring them not to vote on the SNP amendment and to back the Labour amendment.

Yousaf became the first UK party leader to condemn Israel’s push for “ethnic cleansing”, after warning that Israeli officials had called for the "resettlement of the population of Gaza".

READ MORE: New North Sea oil licences 'make no real difference' to energy costs

The First Minister called on political leaders to "stop beating around the bush" adding that if recent statements from Israeli ministers were "not tantamount to ethnic cleansing, then I don't know what is".

On Monday US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said Palestinians must not be pressured into leaving Gaza and must be allowed to return to their homes once conditions allow. His comments followed reports up to 70 people were killed at Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza.

More than 60 Palestinians were reportedly also killed in the past day in the southern city of Khan Younis.

Jabalia camp has been struck many times since Israel began its war against Hamas following the organisation’s attack on southern Israel on October 7, when some 1200 people were killed.

More than 22,000 people - mostly women and children - have now been killed in Gaza, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.

Medics, patients and displaced people are also fleeing from the main hospital in central Gaza as the fighting between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants draws closer, witnesses said.

Doctors Without Borders and other aid groups have withdrawn from the  Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir al-Balah in recent days, saying it is too dangerous.