New Zealand Labour has labelled Israel's attacks in Gaza as genocide in a parliamentary debate which ended with unanimous support for "urgent steps towards a ceasefire".
Foreign Minister Winston Peters moved a government motion on the Israel-Hamas conflict on Thursday, expressing "grave concern at the ongoing violence in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories".
The motion would pass with support from all six parliamentary parties, including an amendment supporting the creation of a Palestinian state.
The government motion also stated the house, "unequivocally condemns the Hamas terrorist attacks of 7 October 2023 and calls for the release of all hostages".
Labour trade spokesman Damien O'Connor gave an impassioned and incendiary speech during the debate, calling for an unconditional, immediate and permanent ceasefire.
"The situation in Gaza is absolutely appalling. No one person with any ounce of moral courage can say this is anything but horrific," he said.
"Nothing more than a genocide, and I call upon Israel - a nation that has been set up and seeks sympathy and support because of the Holocaust and the outrageous outcomes - I call on that nation to look at itself and apply the same humanity to the people of Palestine."
Mr O'Connor said images from the war brought tears to his eyes and drove him "to rage to think of what we can do as human beings to one another".
"We were appalled by what happened in the 1940s, the Holocaust. How then can a nation impose that upon another race of people?" he said, raising his voice.
"We must respect the rights of the people of Israel and the people of Palestine but bombing and killing and slaughtering women and children that have nothing to do with this other than happening to be born as a Palestinian, that is outrageous."
Greens leader Marama Davidson and Maori Party leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer also expressed their belief a genocide was taking place.
Under questioning from Greens foreign affairs spokeswoman Golriz Ghahraman, Mr Peters said he would not label it as a genocide until "international bodies charged with investigations" had found as much.
National deputy leader Nicola Willis said she didn't agree with Mr O'Connor's characterisations.
"On both sides, we all have enormous empathy for the loss of life, the injury, the terrible things that are happening, but I think we all need to be careful not to inflame language, and to be moderate in our comments," she said.
Parties of the left have pushed the government to call for an unconditional ceasefire for weeks without success.
Labour leader Chris Hipkins called for a ceasefire last month, but the National-led government has yet to follow that position, instead opting for the "steps towards a ceasefire" wording.
Labour did have success with an amendment from Labour MP Phil Twyford which shows support for Palestinian statehood.
Mr Peters accepted the clause from Mr Twyford calling for a "just and lasting peace that recognises the existence and self-determination of Israelis and Palestinians".
"We call for the establishment of a free and independent Palestinian state as part of a two-state solution, with both nations having secure and recognised borders where all citizens enjoy equal rights and freedoms," the incorporated amendment read.
On Monday, Mr Twyford called on the government to "follow the example of Australia" and offer visas to the families of New Zealanders caught up in the conflict.
"I've had no indication that the government is willing to reconsider its position but I know there are Gazan Kiwis right now desperate to help their families get out," he said.
Australian Associated Press