London Mayor Sadiq Khan defies Labour line with call for Gaza cease-fire

LONDON — Mayor of London Sadiq Khan on Friday urged a cease-fire in the conflict between Israel and Hamas — putting him directly at odds with his party’s leader, Keir Starmer.

As the directly elected mayor of London, Khan is one of the opposition party’s most prominent figures, and his comments come amid mounting pressure on Starmer to go beyond his current call for humanitarian “pauses” to the fighting.

“The terrible situation in Gaza now looks set to deteriorate even further,” Khan said in a video posted on X Friday.

“I join the international community in calling for a cease-fire,” he said. “It will stop the killing and would allow vital aid supplies to reach those who need it in Gaza, but it will also allowed the international community more time to prevent a protracted conflict in the region and further devastating loss of life.”

Khan added that while Israel “has a right to defend itself” and to target Hamas, it does not have a right to break international law.

Starmer has so far called only for humanitarian “pauses” to allow aid to enter Gaza and for civilians to flee. It aligns him with the United States, the EU and the British government. But it stops short of calling for a full cease-fire, which Labour has said would deny Israel its right to pursue Hamas after its deadly attacks earlier this month.

But the Labour leader has faced calls to go further from inside his own party. Some 49 Labour MPs, including the shadow minister Imran Hussain, signed a parliamentary motion calling for a cease-fire. Starmer has faced criticism for an interview in which he said Israel “has the right” to withhold power and water from Gaza — comments he attempted to clarify a week later.

Speaking Friday morning, Shadow Environment Secretary Steve Reed said he “empathized” with angry Labour colleagues, before offering a defense of the Labour leadership’s position.

“What I would say to colleagues is if this attack that Israel suffered had been on the U.K. … our state would have sought to defend ourselves to protect our citizens by dismantling the capability of a terrorist organization that carried it out,” Reed told Sky News.

“That applies to Israel too; they have the right under international law to do that. … But in taking that work, they must continue to follow international law as they carry it out,” he added.