The NDA government on Thursday stuck to New Delhi’s principled position on Palestine followed over the last seven decades, including by the UPA, as it voted in favour of a resolution at the United Nations General Assembly which opposed and rejected US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
New Delhi’s “yes” vote comes even as the NDA government’s proximity to Israel and the US has grown. In fact, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to visit India next month and Prime Minister Narendra Modi had skipped Palestine during his visit to Israel in July this year.
This comes after Arab ambassadors in Delhi, as reported by The Indian Express, met officials in the Ministry of External Affairs, including Minister of State M J Akbar last week on December 11, and asked India to make a “stronger statement” on Trump’s decision. Indian officials had sought to allay their concerns saying that New Delhi was not going to take any position dictated by a “third country”.
After the vote, a top South Block source echoed this to The Indian Express on Thursday night, “Our policies are based on our principles and we have just reiterated our long-standing position.” While New Delhi has, as a norm, always voted in favour of Palestine at the UN, India had in July 2015 abstained from a vote against Israel at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva — this was seen as a subtle shift in India’s policy towards the Israeli-Palestinian issue.
After Trump’s announcement on December 6, New Delhi had said that “India’s position on Palestine is independent and consistent. It is shaped by our views and interests, and not determined by any third country,” This was perceived as “lacking condemnation” against Trump’s move by Arab envoys.
But at the UN, India voted with Pakistan, Bangladesh and Maldives, in favour of the resolution which was passed with 128 votes. The US was isolated as there were only nine votes against the resolution including its own and Israel’s. Interestingly, Bhutan is among the 35 countries — along with Canada, Australia and Mexico — to have abstained.
The resolution, co-sponsored by Turkey and Yemen, called Trump’s recognition “null and void” and reaffirmed 10 Security Council resolutions on Jerusalem dating back to 1967, including requirements that the city’s final status must be decided in direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
It also “demands that all states comply with Security Council resolutions regarding the holy city of Jerusalem and not to recognise any actions or measures contrary to those resolutions”. Trump had threatened to cut funding to countries that did not back the US recognition.
The 193-member body voted to support the long-standing international consensus that the status of Jerusalem – which is claimed by both Israel and the Palestinians as a capital — can only be settled as an agreed final issue in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Ahead of the vote, Israel’s envoy said that those who support the resolution are “puppets”. US envoy to the UN Nikki Haley left, after making her statement where she reiterated the US position. China too supported the “just cause” of Palestine and said that it will play a “constructive role.”