Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had reached out to his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi and urged him to abstain during the UNHRC voting

Jerusalem : India’s decision to abstain from voting on a resolution condemning Israel at the UN Human Rights Council for last year’s Gaza offensive is being seen in Israel as a “significant” change in New Delhi’s policy, reports PTI.

 Officials here said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had reached out to his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi and urged him to abstain during the UNHRC voting.

The two leaders share a good rapport and had met on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly last year. They have since kept in touch.

Their bonding was reflected in a recent announcement that Modi would be visiting Israel later this year, becoming the first Indian Prime Minister to do so since the two countries established full-fledged diplomatic ties in 1992.   Friday’s abstention is another sign of “warming ties” between India and Israel since the election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, Haáretz reported. India has, however, maintained that there’s no change in its long-standing policy on support to the Palestinian cause.

India has traditionally voted in favour of all anti-Israel resolutions at UN institutions and this change in voting pattern comes amid talks of deepening ties and similar speculations regarding India’s voting inclinations.

India’s constant support for resolutions condemning Israel in favour of Palestinians at UN forums has probably been the only issue of discord between the two nations in an otherwise ever-strengthening ties.

But India on Friday stated that “there is no change in New Delhi`s long-standing position on support to the Palestinian cause”.

The UNHRC adopted a resolution condemning Israel for its use of “huge firepower” against Gazans during its offensive last year. 41 countries voted in favour of the resolution with only Israel’s ally US voting against. India, Kenya, Ethiopia, Paraguay and Macedonia abstained. The UNHCR resolution also condemned the “indiscriminate” firing of thousands of rockets and mortars by Palestinian militants at Israel, which it said appeared to have been intended to “spread terror” among Israeli civilians.

The 50-day Gaza war killed 1,462 civilians, and left 11,231 injured from the Palestinian side and six civilians from the Israeli side.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has slammed a decision by the  UNHRC to endorse a report accusing Israel and Hamas in war crimes during last summer’s war in the Palestinian enclave.”The UNHRC is not interested in the facts and is not really interested in human rights,” Netanyahu on Friday said in a statement released by his office, Xinhua reported.

He accused the UNHRC for condemning Israel “for no fault of its own, for acting to defend itself from a murderous terrorist organisation.” He added that Israeli soldiers “act in accordance with international law”.

The commission said that Israel’s indiscriminate fire inflicted “massive and unprecedented harm” to the people of Gaza.

Harinder Mishra              

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