LABOUR'S shadow foreign secretary has been challenged over why his party took so long to call for an "immediate humanitarian ceasefire" in Palestine if it is a “government-in-waiting”.

MP David Lammy defended the delay from his party in an interview on BBC Radio 5 Live on Tuesday night after it was suggested by presenters that the party's latest U-turn was "ringing very hollow and you've been led by the nose because you simply don't want another defeat".

It comes after Labour lodged an amendment to the SNP's motion calling for an "immediate ceasefire" amid fears of another Commons rebellion over the party's position.

Much of the sentiment matches the SNP's motion, however, the reference to "collective punishment" of the Palestinian people has been removed.

ITV News's political editor Robert Peston reported last night that Keir Starmer would use a three-line whip to have his MPs abstain on the SNP's motion over its stance on collective punishment.

READ MORE: Pro-ceasefire activists react to Labour U-turn on Palestine

In the interview, Lammy was asked: “Why wait this long? We’ve watched this atrocity unfold, we’ve watched the starvation unfold, we have watched the children dying, we’ve watched people being pushed from northern Gaza into situations, we’ve watched hospitals being bombed, people losing their lives in the most desperate of circumstances.

"Labour wait for two SNP resolutions, for the US to call for a humanitarian ceasefire before they pin their colours to the mast. Is that the action of a government-in-waiting?”

The National: David Lammy

The MP replied: "Well, which was the party that first said that we must comply by international law? It was the British Labour Party – not the current Government.

"Which was the party that first highlighted settler violence in the West Bank and called for sanctions? It was the British Labour Party – not the  SNP or the Government.

"Which is the party that said we want to work with partners on Palestinian recognition? It was not the Government, it was the British Labour Party. The SNP make no mention of that in their motion."

Lammy added that people must "look at the words that we've put down" and give the topic the "seriousness it deserves" rather than "sloganising".

"It requires a diplomatic solution, that is why we call for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire – to allow the space for that solution," he said.

When asked whether he would vote for the SNP motion and allow members to support it if the Labour amendment wasn't tabled, Lammy went on: "The first thing to say is this is a decision for the Speaker. He'll make that decision in the next 24 hours. 

"It's also the case that my colleague Ian Murray – our spokesperson for Scotland – has written to the leader of SNP and asked him to accept our motion – and I hope he can do that."