FPJ Editorial: India’s Controversial Stand On Gaza

FPJ Editorial: India’s Controversial Stand On Gaza

FPJ EditorialUpdated: Sunday, October 29, 2023, 09:43 PM IST
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India abstained from the UN General Assembly vote on a resolution which called for a “humanitarian truce” by Israel in the ongoing airstrikes in the Gaza strips following the barbaric assault by the terrorist organisation Hamas on Israel on October 7. The resolution, sponsored by Jordan and backed by most Islamic nations, including the UAE, Egypt, Oman, etc., is not binding, but nevertheless represents the majority sentiment among the nations represented in the UN. After two days of often rancorous debate in which passions on both Israel and Palestine sides found expression, member-nations voted on Friday afternoon. The resolution drew support of 120 members, while 14 members, including Israel, the US, etc, voted against. India was among the 45 countries which chose to abstain. The resolution had undergone several tweaks, including from the term humanitarian ceasefire to humanitarian truce, in order for it to find wider acceptability. It also sought the release of all civilian hostages and resumption of essential supplies to Gaza which have remained disrupted since the start of Israel’s air bombardment. The UN General Assembly resolution became necessary following the failure of the UN Security Council to agree on a resolution which would meet the approval of all five veto-empowered members. The US, China and Russia have used their veto to block the adoption of any resolution on the situation in West Asia. On October 18, the US vetoed a draft resolution tabled by Brazil and UAE, which called for a “humanitarian pause”. A similar resolution piloted by Russia too met the same fate. Incidentally, a resolution passed by the UN Security Council has a binding effect while the one passed by the UN General Assembly reflects the view point of voting members without having any binding effect. A Canadian amendment specifically condemning Hamas and its taking of hostages received 88 votes in favour while 55 members voted against it and 23 members abstained. Since it failed to get the obligatory two-thirds majority of votes from the members present and voting it fell through. India, significantly, had voted for the Canadian resolution. India’s deputy permanent representative to the UN shared the GA’s concern about ‘ casualties in the ongoing conflict in Gaza… civilians are a telling, serious and continuing concern…’ The Indian representative further said that `escalation of hostilities in the region will only exacerbate the humanitarian crisis’ and called for `all parties to display the utmost responsibility.’

Meanwhile, the Indian abstention from the UN General Assembly vote has predictably caused a controversy at home with the Opposition parties criticizing the Narendra Modi government for not voting in favour of a resolution which called for a “humanitarian truce” in Gaza. Priyanka Gandhi said that she was “shocked and ashamed” that India had abstained, going against “everything the country had stood for all these years”. Clearly, her reaction as also of several other Opposition figures reflects a considered view of the popular Muslim mindset in India which is firmly with Hamas and the Palestinian people over whom the former rules with an iron hand. It is notable that the Congress party had maintained silence over the Hamas barbarity in Israel. The Congress leaders’ felt need to woo the popular Muslim sentiment whether right or wrong reflects their desperation to poll the votes of the main minority community. Since October 7, when Hamas attacked Israel, killing 1400 innocent civilians and taking over 200 people hostage, there have been demonstrations in its support in Muslim-centric areas, including Aligarh and Jamia Millia-Islamia in Delhi. It is interesting that led by the Congress secularists, several parties, including the Samajwadi Party in UP, do not call Hamas a terrorist organisation. Such ambivalence further encourages Muslim separatism and encourages them to take extreme positions while using the sizable vote of the Muslim community as a bargaining chip. Priyanka Gandhi’s strong condemnation of India’s stand in the UN General Assembly does not reflect the national consensus but is merely a partisan view meant to please the large Muslim minority in the country.

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