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Sushma refuses to needle Israel

New Delhi, July 21: The Narendra Modi government today denied the “minutest of shift” in India’s policy on Palestine and rejected Opposition demands for a resolution condemning Israel over the Gaza violence.

“With full responsibility, I inform this House that there is not the minutest of shift in our policy. While whole-heartedly supporting the Palestinian cause, India will maintain and improve relations with Israel,” external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj said in the Rajya Sabha.

Her statement during a short duration discussion on the Gaza violence triggered a walkout by almost the entire Opposition, including Trinamul. The exception was the AIADMK, which has been perceived recently to be warming to the Modi government.

Sushma emphasised that the policy was followed by previous governments. There was no change either by the Modi-led NDA government or the one headed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee, she told the Congress’s Ghulam Nabi Azad who claimed otherwise.

Sushma pointed out that diplomatic ties with the country were established in 1992 when the P.V. Narasimha Rao-led Congress government was in power.

The minister also rejected a call by the CPM’s Sitaram Yechury to stop buying arms from Israel and cited a conflict in 2008, coinciding with the Left-backed UPA rule. “You had supported the government but you never asked them to stop the purchase of arms.”