New Delhi : Union external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj has asserted that there is not even an ‘íota of a change’ in the country’s policy on the Israeli-Palestine conflict in West Asia. “Our policy has evolved over the years, and it is India’s policy, it does not belong to any one party,” she said while responding to an impassioned short notice discussion in the Rajya Sabha.
Swaraj, however, did not agree to the demand for a resolution to be adopted on the subject in the house pointing out to the rules under which the discussion was held. “There is no way in which you can append a resolution or motion after a discussion under this rule,’ ‘she insisted, and this led to a protest walk out by the opposition parties.
The issue of holding a discussion on the subject in the House had become bitterly contentious and had stalled the proceedings for more than two days last week. The opposition had argued that India as an emerging world power cannot afford to remain silent on such an issue, whereas Swaraj had opposed a debate on the grounds that both the parties involved in the conflict had friendly relations with India and thus a debate would be inappropriate.
The debate itself saw frequent clashes between the members on both the sides. The opposition members led by the Congress speakers wanted that Israel should be named as an aggressor and the policy of maintaining an equidistant stance between the two parties should be given up. The Communist parties wanted that India should stops buying arms from Israel and firmly stand with the Palestinian cause.
Swaraj cited that India has long standing relations with both the sides, but such steps have never been taken in the past when they have clashed. ‘‘Did we stop buying arms from Israel in 2008 when the clashes took place and more than 1400 people died,” she said.
“The best course for us would be to issue an appeal from this house that both sides should bring about a cessation of hostilities. This is the view that has emerged from Egypt and other Arab countries, and we should support it, as a ceasefire proposal is still on the table,” she added.
The external affairs minister also denied that there had been any delay in taking a stand on this issue and pointed out that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was a signatory to the BRICS statement on the subject. ‘‘After such an unequivocal assertion of our position, I am surprised at this criticism from the opposition members,” she added.