KEIR Starmer has been slammed over another policy U-turn – after appearing to shift his stance on a ceasefire in Gaza.

The Labour leader in December argued against a ceasefire on the grounds it would be “very difficult” to achieve when Hamas still held Israeli hostages.

But earlier this week, he appeared to suggest that a “humanitarian truce” could provide the conditions for the release of hostages.

Labour have been accused of adopting a “shameful and complicit” stance on the war between Israel and Hamas, which has seen havoc wreaked on Gaza since October.

The National: Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer said he is kept up at night worrying about the impact of his job on his family (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

On December 12, Starmer said that a ceasefire would not be possible without the immediate release of Israeli hostages by Hamas.

He said: "The way forward here is for the hostages to be released, we can’t lose sight of the fact that 150 people are still being held at gunpoint in tunnels and should be released immediately.

“It’s very difficult to argue for complete cessation of hostilities until there’s that immediate release."

Speaking in the Commons on Monday, however, he seemed to shift his position and said a ceasefire would create the conditions for the release of hostages.

READ MORE: Labour respond amid anger over Keir Starmer's Palestine recognition U-turn

He said: "The need for a sustainable ceasefire is clear to stop the killing of innocent civilians, to create the space for the return of all the hostages, and to provide urgent humanitarian relief to protect against disease and ward off a devastating famine."

Labour have defended the apparent volte-face, insisting that Starmer’s more recent comments referred to a temporary truce between the two sides, rather than a permanent ceasefire.

But his critics have said the “word salad” from the Labour leader was a result of the party’s reliance on “opinion polling or focus groups” to shape policy.

The National: Kenny MacAskill

Former justice secretary Kenny MacAskill (above), Alba’s deputy leader, said: “Unlike the Labour Party, the Alba Party didn’t wait for opinion polling or focus groups to suggest what our position should be.

“We demanded an immediate ceasefire the moment the war started because it was the right moral position to adopt and it is still the correct course of action to take.

“Instead of dropping bombs on Yemen, the British Government should be pressuring the Israeli government to end the atrocities it is committing against Palestine on a daily basis.

“A ceasefire must be unconditional, only then will the killing stop, the space be created to allow for dialogue, a peaceful settlement and of course the immediate release of all hostages.”

Scottish Greens MSP Ross Greer added: “It’s honestly hard to make some sense of Starmer’s latest word salad, but I hope it is a hint that he has realised the catastrophic error he made.

“Maybe he will now join the rest of us in calling for an end to Israel’s slaughter in Gaza, the lifting of the siege and withdrawal from all occupied Palestinian territories.”

READ MORE: Police probe 'Gaza war crimes' allegations against UK Government ministers

Greer also took aim at Starmer’s opposition last year to an SNP motion calling for a ceasefire, which exposed splits in the Labour Party.

“He couldn’t even bring himself to condemn the collective punishment of two million people in Gaza and defended the Israeli government while it blocked food, water and electricity – a blatant war crime,” Greer added.

“A ceasefire is more urgent than ever. Thousands of Palestinian children have been killed by Israeli air strikes, with more dying every day. People will remember the shameful and complicit role Labour have played.”

It comes after Starmer confirmed Labour would not immediately recognise the state of Palestine if the party forms the next government.

He has said doing so would need to be done in conjunction with other countries at a point where a Palestinian state would be viable.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has previously said a Palestinian state must be a “state-minus”, which is understood to mean the country would not have military power.

Starmer last year was also forced to backtrack after he suggested Israel had the "right" to switch off Gaza's water supplies after sparking outrage.