Two Labour city councillors have explained why they resigned from the party in exclusive interviews with the Oxford Mail.

The resignations of Councillors Shaista Aziz and Dr Amar Latif follow a comment made on Wednesday by Keir Starmer in which the Labour leader stated Israel ‘has the right’ to withhold power and water from Gaza.

Sir Keir’s comment came after the deadliest attack on Israel in decades and a subsequent intense Israeli bombing campaign of Palestinians, with an ensuing warning that 1.1 million people in north Gaza would need to leave their homes.

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Ms Aziz said: “Like all decent minded people we are devastated by the atrocities carried out by Hamas in Israel.

“However, we are appalled by the words of Keir Starmer.

“We know this weekend is crucial and there is likely to be an invasion of Gaza.

“This is not ok. It contravenes international law.

“We believe that politicians need to be evoking humanity and calling for an end to collective punishment in Gaza.”

Ms Aziz, who is also a journalist, writer and stand-up comedian, told of ‘great sadness’ having served as a councillor since 2018 and having been, along with Mr Latif, ‘elected to serve the community that we’ve grown up in’.

Mr Latif, who has served the Cowley ward since 2021, also lamented Sir Keir's reluctance to condemn the blockade.

“This is a sign that Keir Starmer can’t stand up for what’s right and I expect he’s doing it because he’s afraid of losing votes.

Oxford Mail: Sir Keir StarmerSir Keir Starmer (Image: PA)

“It’s unfortunate that the Labour leader hasn’t been in a position to condemn this,” he said.

Ms Aziz added: “I have been to these places and carried out international aid work in the area for 15 years but this current crisis is one unlike any other.”

The two councillors will continue to represent their wards as independents.

Their resignations follow other recent turbulence within Oxford’s Labour Party after county councillor Damian Haywood resigned over the party’s response to an Ofsted/CQC report on local SEND provision.

Independent councillor of the Temple Cowley ward, Sajjad Malik, said: "The Oxford Labour Party is self-serving as councillor Haywood pointed out in his resignation letter and this is a wake up call.

“This will affect Labour in Oxford big-time and they will also lose a big chunk of Muslim votes.

“Don’t underestimate the significance of this, particularly given the east Oxford population demographic.”

Oxford City Council Labour leader, Susan Brown, said: "Labour fully supports Israel's right to defend itself from the indefensible actions of Hamas, to rescue hostages and protect civilians in line with international law.

Oxford Mail: Oxford City Council Labour leader Susan Brown Oxford City Council Labour leader Susan Brown (Image: Ed Nix)

"We must distinguish Hamas terrorists from Palestinian people.

"There must be humanitarian access to Gaza, for food, water, medicines and electricity.

"The Labour Party will continue to be strong and consistent advocates for justice, human rights and international law in this conflict, and to condemn the unacceptable use of violence against civilians."