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Labour MP accuses Sunak of having ‘blood of thousands of innocents on his hands’

Tahir Ali (Birmingham, Hall Green) claimed in the House of Commons that the Prime Minister had ‘boldly stated’ confidence in Israel’s adherence to international law despite documents suggesting the Foreign Office had concerns (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
Tahir Ali (Birmingham, Hall Green) claimed in the House of Commons that the Prime Minister had ‘boldly stated’ confidence in Israel’s adherence to international law despite documents suggesting the Foreign Office had concerns (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Rishi Sunak was accused of having “the blood of thousands of innocent people on his hands” over his response to the Israel-Gaza war by a Labour MP.

Tahir Ali (Birmingham, Hall Green) claimed in the House of Commons that the Prime Minister had “boldly stated” confidence in Israel’s adherence to international law despite documents suggesting the Foreign Office had concerns.

The Labour leadership has distanced itself from his comments, with a party spokesman branding them “clearly inappropriate”.

Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs), Mr Ali said: “Recently released documents reveal that the Foreign Office had serious concerns about Israel’s compliance with international humanitarian law and its ongoing assault on Gaza.

Prime Minister’s Questions
Tahir Ali MP accused the Prime Minister of having the ‘blood of thousands of innocents on his hands’ over his response to the Israel-Gaza war (House of Commons/PA)

“This assessment was hidden from Parliament whilst the Prime Minister boldly stated his confidence in Israel’s respect for international law.

“Since then, the scale of Israel’s war crimes in Gaza have been revealed to the world thanks to South Africa’s case to the ICJ.

“Therefore, is it now not the time for the Prime Minister to admit that he has the blood of thousands of innocent people on his hands and for him to commit to demanding an immediate ceasefire and an ending of UK’s arms trade with Israel?”

Mr Sunak said: “That’s the face of the changed Labour Party.”

The Prime Minister’s words were met with loud approval from his backbenchers.

Asked about the remarks later, a Labour spokesman said: “That language is clearly inappropriate and not language we would support or endorse or believe should be used.”

It is not yet clear whether any conversations have taken place between party whips and Mr Ali.

The Guardian reported last week that an internal Foreign Office assessment, after reviewing a report from Amnesty International, initially concluded it had “serious concerns” about Israel’s actions in Gaza.

The assessment related to a decision on whether to revoke arms export licences to Israel.

The newspaper reported that an internal Government assessment unit then concluded it did not have sufficient information to decide on compliance and left the decision to ministers, with Foreign Secretary Lord David Cameron ultimately advising against revoking arms export licences and instead saying the situation should be kept under review.

Lord Cameron reportedly said there was “good evidence to support a judgment that Israel is committed to complying with IHL (international humanitarian law)”.

Earlier in PMQs, SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn said: “I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom to rise to that despatch box and tell the people of these isles and elsewhere that shooting an unarmed man walking under a white flag is a war crime.

“Now in recent weeks this House has acted with urgency and intent following an ITV drama, the question is will this House now show the same urgency and intent following this ITV News report and finally back a ceasefire?”

Mr Sunak replied: “No-one wants to see this conflict go on for a moment longer than is necessary and we do want to see an immediate and sustained humanitarian pause.”

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said: “The next time there’s a vote at the UN for a ceasefire, will his representative vote for it?”

Mr Sunak said: “Of course we will engage with all UN resolutions on their merits.”