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An attempt by UK lawmakers to vote on a cease-fire in Gaza descended into chaos


LONDON (AP) — U.K. lawmakers called Wednesday for a cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war — but only after dozens walked out of the House of Commons in protest at how the vote was handled.

Lawmakers had been debating three separate resolutions related to the war. All were largely symbolic and not binding on the government.

But Parliament descended into chaos as legislators from the governing Conservatives and an opposition party accused Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle of upending parliamentary procedure.

The mayhem broke out during debate on a motion from the opposition Scottish National Party, or SNP, urging an immediate cease-fire, the release of all Israeli hostages held by Hamas and “an end to the collective punishment of the Palestinian people.”

The main opposition Labour Party, which is divided over how strongly to criticize Israel, submitted a tweaked version of the motion calling for an “immediate humanitarian cease-fire,” without the mention of collective punishment.

The governing Conservatives put forward their own amendment, which backed an “immediate humanitarian pause,” followed by “moves towards a permanent sustainable" cease-fire. The government says a cease-fire can only happen if Hamas frees all Israeli hostages and relinquishes control of Gaza.

When Hoyle allowed votes on all three, Conservative lawmakers were furious, saying it went against House of Commons conventions. Some accused Hoyle — who was elected as a Labour lawmaker before taking up the neutral post of speaker — of favoring the opposition.

The political mayhem is a sign of how the conflict has divided Britain’s politicians and public, sending tensions soaring.

“His decision has raised temperatures in this House on an issue where feelings are already running high,” said Penny Mordaunt, Conservative leader of the House of Commons.

The SNP, meanwhile, accused Labour of hijacking their motion, and said Hoyle had enabled them to do it.

Many Conservatives and SNP members walked out, and in their absence the Labour version of the cease-fire call passed on a voice vote — by calls of “Aye” — without a full formal vote.

Afterwards, Hoyle apologized for the chaos.

“I regret how it’s ended up,” Hoyle said. “I wanted all to ensure they could express their views and all sides of the House could vote.”