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Opposition slams Modi government for abstaining on UN resolution over Israel-Hamas war

India's decision to break ranks with the global south and abstain from the vote was guided by the absence from the Jordan-initiated resolution of any condemnation of Hamas and its October 7 attack on Israel

Anita Joshua New Delhi Published 29.10.23, 05:45 AM
PM Modi

PM Modi File picture

The Narendra Modi government has drawn flak from the Opposition for abstaining on Friday from a resolution at the UN General Assembly that called for a humanitarian truce in the Gaza conflict and the protection of civilians.

The Congress, its charge led by Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, said it was "shocked and ashamed" at the failure of moral courage on India’s part while the Left accused New Delhi of having become "a subordinate ally of US imperialism".


India's decision to break ranks with the global south and abstain from the vote was guided by the absence from the Jordan-initiated resolution of any condemnation of Hamas and its October 7 attack on Israel.

Sources said the abstention was not an abandonment of the Palestinian cause by New Delhi, and that India continued to advocate the two-state solution.

"Our vote on the resolution was guided by our steadfast and consistent position on the issue… there can be no equivocation on terror," a source said.

India had backed an attempt by Canada to amend the resolution to include a condemnation of Hamas, but this failed to gather the required two-thirds majority.

The resolution broke the deadlock at the UN over a response to the Israel-Palestine crisis, after member states on the Security Council had failed to reach an agreement on four draft resolutions in the past three weeks.

In all, 120 countries voted for the resolution, 14 including the US and Israel rejected it, and 45 abstained from the vote. The abstentions were mainly by Western bloc countries.

In the explanation of vote (EOV), India’s deputy permanent representative to the UN, Yojana Patel, said: "The terror attacks in Israel on 7th October were shocking and deserve condemnation. Our thoughts are also with those taken hostages. We call for their immediate and unconditional release."

She added: "Terrorism is a malignancy and knows no borders, nationality, or race. The world should not buy into any justification of terror acts. Let us keep aside differences, unite and adopt a zero-tolerance approach to terrorism."

The EOV also dwelt on the situation in Gaza. "Casualties in the ongoing conflict in Gaza are a telling, serious and continuing concern. Civilians, especially women and children, are paying with their lives," it said.

The EOV added: “This humanitarian crisis needs to be addressed. We welcome the international community’s de-escalation efforts and delivery of humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza.”

Patel said that escalation of hostilities in the region would exacerbate the humanitarian crisis.

She added that India had always supported a negotiated two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine issue, leading to the establishment of a sovereign, independent and viable state of Palestine living within secure and recognised borders, side by side and at peace with Israel.

The Opposition was unimpressed by this balancing act, with Priyanka questioning the government’s lack of moral courage to take a stand against the annihilation being carried out in Gaza.

Supriya Shrinate, who heads the Congress social media and digital platforms, added: “India, the land of Gandhi and the world’s conscience-keeper, didn’t back a call for truce. Let that sink in.”

RJD leader Lalu Prasad said this was the first time that India had failed to take the lead in a humanitarian cause. He called for a ceasefire and peace.

In a post on X, Yogendra Yadav of Swaraj India said: “Such a shame! There was a time when India used to be the voice of the voiceless, an ally of the oppressed. Now we turn our face away.”

In a joint statement, the CPM and the CPI said: “India’s abstention on a resolution that was overwhelmingly adopted shows the extent to which Indian foreign policy is being shaped by being a subordinate ally of US imperialism and the Modi government’s actions for consolidating the US-Israel-India nexus. This negates India’s longstanding support to the Palestinian cause.”

The All India Forward Bloc said New Delhi’s decision was not only a deviation from India’s position on Palestine but an example of “excessive US servitude”.

Priyanka Chaturvedi of the Shiv Sena (Uddhav Thackeray) said it was “sad” that India had abstained from a resolution that sought the protection of civilians and the upholding of legal and humanitarian obligations.

Michael Kugelman, South Asia Institute director at the Washington-based Wilson Centre, posted: “It’s an indication that India sees the conflict through a counterterrorism (CT) lens. It views Israel’s assault on Gaza as a CT operation. CT ops don’t pause for truces. India’s support continues for Palestinians — it’s announced more aid. But its strong backing of Israel stands out.”

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