Having recently abstained from voting on the United Nations human rights council resolution asking for an international probe into Sri Lanka’s alleged war crimes, India will find it difficult to defend its vote for the UNHRC resolution for a probe into the Gaza violence. But its statement on the occasion reiterated its commitment, together with that of the other BRICS nations, to contribute to finding a lasting settlement to the Arab-Israeli conflict. India has also steadfastly maintained in various fora that the Syrian conflict should be resolved through dialogues. India’s vote on the ongoing Gaza violence has been interpreted as a vote against Israel and, therefore, one necessarily in favour of Hamas, the other contending party in the conflict. This is a deliberate obfuscation of facts because India has repeatedly asked for cessation of all kinds of violence that are proving to be obstacles to the peace process, and Hamas’s unceasing rocket attacks definitely fall within that ambit as do its dogged efforts to scotch the possibility of a ceasefire. India, however, has minced no words in criticizing Israel’s “disproportionate” use of force that has taken a heavy toll on the people of Gaza, leading to more than 700 deaths. Israel’s efforts to inflict the deepest possible cut on Hamas to gain a longer deterrence than the Pillar of Defense had given it in 2012 has taken the war right into schools, houses and hospitals since Hamas has stationed itself right within the civilian population. As part of the international community with a conscience, India could not have forsaken its role to stand up for the rights of the Palestinian people that are being ignored by both the warring parties. The censure against Israel should not, ideally, impinge on bilateral relations since they are formed on the basis of mutual interdependence.
There is a problem, however, if India seeks to qualify its UNHRC vote on the basis of its duty to condemn violence everywhere it occurs. If that is so, India would fail to explain its silence in situations that are equally fraught with violence. India has avoided taking a definite stand on the turbulent region of eastern Ukraine that saw the shooting down of an international commercial flight. Perhaps it is too conscious of protecting the integral interests of Russia that has been its long-term ally. But a certain consistency in action is expected of a nation as powerful as India. That would get it the weight necessary to play mediator.