RISHI Sunak and Keir Starmer have both been urged to "show leadership on the international stage" by committing to the UK formally recognising the state of Palestine.

Brendan O'Hara MP, the SNP's foreign affairs spokesperson, has said both leaders have "dithered and delayed" for too long on the issue, and that formal recognition would be a crucial first step "towards a peaceful, two-state solution in the Middle East".

It comes after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected US calls to scale back Israel’s military offensive in the Gaza Strip or take steps towards the establishment of a Palestinian state after the war.

In a nationally televised news conference, Netanyahu repeated his longstanding opposition to a two-state solution. He said Israel must have control "from the river to the sea", a phrase which is labelled genocidal in its calls for the abolition of Israel when used by pro-Palestine protesters.

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Netanyahu claimed a Palestinian state would become a launching pad for attacks on Israel.

First Minister Humza Yousaf previously wrote to Prime Minister Sunak urging him to recognise the state of Palestine, but is yet to receive a response.

Starmer recently dropped his party's pledge to recognise Palestine as a state unilaterally, despite Labour's National Executive Committee committing to it last year.

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.

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."

The National: Keir Starmer

Commenting, O'Hara said: "Benjamin Netanyahu's refusal to recognise the state of Palestine is a dangerous setback that will only fuel the conflict in Gaza.

"That is why it is crucial both Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer show leadership on the international stage by confirming that the UK does recognise the state of Palestine.

"They have dithered and delayed on this issue for too long.

"As well as backing an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, the SNP has long called on all political parties to recognise the state of Palestine to break the political impasse that has condemned both Israeli and Palestinian civilians to successive cycles of violence.

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"Recognising the state of Palestine is one of the first steps in the path towards a peaceful, two-state solution in the Middle East.

"It would also offer hope to those suffering from this horrific conflict, and provide the international leadership that has been sorely lacking from both the Tories and Labour."

Asked about the Israeli prime minister’s remarks on Friday, Starmer told broadcasters: “The comments (made by) Prime Minister Netanyahu are unacceptable and they are wrong.

“Palestinian statehood is not in the gift of a neighbour. It is the inalienable right of the Palestinian people. It’s also the only way to a secure settlement and a secure future.”