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India abstains on UNHRC resolution proposing probe in Gaza violence

India was joined by 13 other members who abstained. With 24 voting in favour and nine against, the resolution was adopted in Geneva.

Written by Shubhajit Roy | New Delhi |
Updated: May 28, 2021 7:29:38 am
In statement, Delhi drops stock phrase of support to ‘just Palestinian cause’.

India on Thursday abstained on a resolution at the UN Human Rights Council proposing to set up a Commission of Inquiry into violations surrounding the latest violence in Gaza, but also of “systematic” abuses in Palestinian territories and inside Israel.

India was joined by 13 other members who abstained. With 24 voting in favour and nine against, the resolution was adopted in Geneva.

India has dropped its stock phrase of its strong support to the “just Palestinian cause” in its statement at the UNHRC on May 27 — which used to be part of Indian statements in the past. This signals a slight nuanced shift away from Palestine, and towards Israel.

The last time the Permanent Representative (PR) of India to the UN made a statement in New York at the UN Security Council on May 16, the statement had said, “I reiterate India’s strong support to the just Palestinian cause and its unwavering commitment to the two-State solution.”

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This omission of the phrase “strong support to just Palestinian cause” was first made on May 20, when India’s PR to the UN made a statement at UNGA, where he did not mention the phrase. He said, “We support all ongoing diplomatic efforts, including of the Quartet, to bring the ongoing violence to an end and to seek durable peace, in line with the vision of the two States living side by side within secure and recognised borders.”

On May 27, he made a statement at the UNSC in New York, where he again omitted the phrase and said, “We firmly believe that only a two-State solution, achieved through direct and meaningful negotiations between both sides on final status issues, will deliver an enduring peace that the people of Israel and Palestine desire and deserve.”

New Delhi has always voiced its support for the Palestinian cause in an explicit manner, and this shift has been perceived by many diplomats.

This, coupled with India’s abstention for a broad, international investigation into violations surrounding the latest Gaza violence, and of “systematic” abuses in the Palestinian territories and inside Israel, is an important balancing act between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

Among other countries that abstained are France, Italy, Japan, Nepal, Netherlands, Poland and South Korea.

Among those voting in favour of the resolution are Pakistan, China, Bangladesh, Russia, while Germany, the UK, Austria, among others, voted against it.

In its statement at the UNHRC in Geneva on Thursday, India said that it “welcomes diplomatic efforts of the international community and regional countries that have resulted in bringing a ceasefire between Israel and armed groups in Gaza”.

It said that India calls on all parties to show extreme restraint, desist from actions that aggravate tensions and refrain from any further attempts to unilaterally change the existing status quo, including in East Jerusalem and its neighbourhoods.

“We remain concerned about the continuing violence in Jerusalem, especially at Haram Al Sharif/Temple Mount and other Palestinian territories, and about the possible eviction process in Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem, an area which is part of an arrangement facilitated by the UN,” it said.

It said: “The indiscriminate rocket firings from Gaza targeting the civilian population in Israel, which we have condemned, and the retaliatory air strikes into Gaza in the last two weeks have caused immense suffering- and resulted in deaths, including an Indian national—a caregiver in the Israeli city of Ashkelon. We deeply mourn the loss of civilian lives resulting from the violence, and urge the international community’s immediate attention to providing humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian civilian population, particularly in Gaza. India continues to provide developmental and humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian Authority, including Covid-19 related assistance, bilaterally, and through our dedicated contribution to the UN.”

It said that India remains firmly convinced that dialogue remains the only viable option that can effectively address the issues confronting the region and its people. “Recent developments have once again underscored the need for immediate resumption of dialogue between Israel and Palestine, aimed at realising the establishment of two States living side by side in peace within secure and recognised borders,” it said, advocating the two-state solution but not mentioning the support for Palestinian cause.

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