Hackney Labour councillors defy party to demand Gaza ceasefire

Former speakers Cllr Soraya Adejare and Cllr Humaira Garasia. Photographs: Hackney Council

Two former speakers on Hackney Council are calling for Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer to back a ceasefire in Gaza.

Councillors Soraya Adejare and Humaira Garasia have signed a letter by the Labour Muslim Network urging Starmer to support an end to hostilities.

More than 150 Labour councillors have added their names to the letter, which says “children and hundreds of innocent men and women pay the price” until there is a ceasefire.

The councillors explain that they have been contacted by constituents who are horrified by the death toll.

“People just want an end to the bloodshed and loss of innocent life,” the letter goes on.

The councillors also call for the release of Israeli hostages taken by Hamas.

They write: “We are also clear that hostages held captive must also be returned to their families safely.”

Cllr Adejare posted on X, formerly Twitter, that: “I want to see the Israeli hostages released and #ceasefirenow implemented in Palestine. We cannot be bystanders to these atrocities.”

The 150 councillors, including 46 from London, urged Starmer and deputy leader Angela Rayner to back the move.

They say the aid getting through to Gaza is “a drop in the ocean”, and urge Labour to add its voice to efforts to persuade the government and international community to push for a ceasefire.

The Labour party and the two councillors have been contacted for comment.

Hackney Labour party declined to comment.

A spokesman said the party locally was being careful about commenting on political matters because of the pre-election period ahead of Thursday’s mayoral by-election in Hackney.

Starmer has come under pressure from his party to call for a ceasefire rather than a pause in the conflict to allow humanitarian aid to get through and for civilians to leave.

Two other Hackney councillors, Penny Wrout and Claudia Turbet-Delof, met with John McDonnell at Westminster to pass on their calls for a ceasefire to party bosses.

The Victoria ward councillors were part of an interfaith delegation which had hoped to meet Starmer to share their concerns.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has also broken senior party ranks to back a ceasefire.