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Govt refuses to condemn Israeli attacks in Gaza, uproar & walkout follow

New Delhi, Jul 15 (PTI): The Lok Sabha was in an uproar on Tuesday when the government declined to agree to the demand of various opposition parties to bring a resolution condemning the Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip.

Members of Congress, Trinamul Congress and Peoples Democratic Party walked out in protest after the government said it has no intention of bringing a resolution to condemn Israeli raids as any action by the government “should not have any implications”.

Members of the Congress, Trinamul, PDP, Indian Union Muslim League, Samajwadi Party, Nationalist Congress Party, Left and All-India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen wanted the government to bring a resolution condemning Israeli action and articulate its voice against the killings in Gaza Strip at the United Nations.

Responding to this, Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu said, “I have noted the views expressed by the members.” Ruling out any resolution, he said, “domestic politics should not affect our foreign policy.”

He said the matter is “highly sensitive” concerning foreign policy and “any move by the government should not have any implications”.

This sparked uproar, with members questioning what implications Naidu was talking about.

Speaker Sumitra Mahajan told the members that they all had expressed their views and the government cannot be pressed for a statement.

Expressing unhappiness over the government response, members of Congress, under directions of Sonia Gandhi, walked out. So did Trinamul and PDP members.

Earlier, the members of these parties trooped into the Well asking the government to make a statement. Rahul Gandhi was also seen in the aisle along with some of his Congress colleagues.

The issue came up after PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti gave a notice for adjournment motion during the Zero Hour.

Mehbooba's action of displaying placards was, however, disapproved by Speaker Sumitra Mahajan who observed that no member should resort to such an action in the House.

The PDF said “world leaders are meeting in Brazil and they include Prime Minister Narendra Modi. They should pass a resolution seeking immediate ceasefire in the one-sided attack on the Gaza Strip.”

Noting that India has been an age-old friend of Palestine, Mehbooba recalled that late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat used to call Indira Gandhi as his sister as “she stood throughout for the Palestinian cause.”

Noting that hundreds of students in Jammu & Kashmir were on the streets protesting these attacks, Mehbooba wanted the House to unanimously express concern over the violence.

The Speaker over-ruled the demands for a statement from the government, saying it was not possible to ask the government to react on every issue.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj was present in the House.

As members continued to shout slogans in the well of the House, Mahajan adjourned the House for 30 minutes.

When the House re-assembled, Congress member Shashi Tharoor supported Mehbooba and said his party shares the concern over the “tremendous tragedy”.

Pointing out that India has consistently stood by the Palestininan people and for “peace and justice”, he said Israel and Palestine should learn to live side by side.

The former Minister of State for External Affairs wanted a short-duration discussion on the issue and a resolution on it.

IUML leader E Ahamad said “innocent people are being butchered” and Israel was engaging in “flagrant violation of human rights”, with even women and children not being spared.

Asking the government to raise the matter at the UN, Tharoor said, “This is the country of Jawaharlal Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi who always stood by the Palestinians”.

TMC member Saugata Roy also wanted the government to take up the matter at the UN and a resolution to be passed by the House to condemn “great human tragedy” and “genocide” in Gaza.

He said there should be a permanent ceasefire so that there is no “such aggression” in future.

P Karunakaran of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) said India has traditionally had good relations with Palestine and the policy cannot change because of change of government.

He said he did not mean to say that the policy has changed after the Modi government came to power but wanted this issue to be taken up forcefully by India.

Samajwadi chief Mulayam Singh Yadav said it has been the policy of India to raise its voice wherever there is any atrocity against humanity.

“We should condemn it (Israeli action), not only the government, but we all in this House,” he said.

AIMIM leader Asaddudin Owaisi wanted India to snap all diplomatic ties with Israel and provide relief to the victims.