A senior Labour MP has been suspended after using a “deeply offensive” phrase during a speech at a a pro-Palestine protest.
Andy McDonald faced backlash after using the controversial slogan “from the river to the sea” to share his backing for Palestine over the weekend.
During the rally, he said: "We won't rest until we have justice. Until all people, Israelis and Palestinians, between the river and the sea, can live in peaceful liberty."
Downing Street condemned the use of the phrase - referring to the land between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea -as "not acceptable".
Rishi Sunak’s official spokesman said the the phrase was of “significant concern to many”.
Critics of the chant argue it implicitly calls for the destruction of Israel, although pro-Palestinian protesters have contested this.
McDonald was initially not expected to face disciplinary action but after internal discussions on Monday he has had the party whip suspended.
A Labour spokesperson said: "The comments made by Andy McDonald at the weekend were deeply offensive, particularly at a time of rising antisemitism which has left Jewish people fearful for their safety.
"The chief whip has suspended the Labour whip from Andy McDonald, pending an investigation."
He will now sit as an independent MP, pending an investigation.
The Labour Party has been split on their response to the conflict in the Middle East, with Starmer calling for "humanitarian pauses" but not a ceasefire, while other Labour MPs - including shadow ministers - have called for a stop to the fighting.
McDonald's suspension comes after a Conservative MP was sacked after sending the Prime Minister a letter calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.
Ministerial aide Paul Bristow wrote to Rishi Sunak urging a “permanent” break in fighting between Israel and Hamas.
But following his comments a No 10 spokeswoman said: “Paul Bristow has been asked to leave his post in Government following comments that were not consistent with the principles of collective responsibility.”
A post including the letter on Bristow’s website on Thursday has now been deleted, but it remains live on his Facebook page.