Our position not new, abstained on previous occasions also: India after Palestine expresses concern

The Ministry of External Affairs Thursday clarified that India’s position to abstain at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) during the resolution to probe Gaza violence is not new and that the country has abstained on previous occasions also.

This was in response to a complaint raised by the foreign minister of the Palestinian National Authority that New Delhi’s abstention at the UNHRC “stifles the important work of… advancing human rights for all peoples, including those of the Palestinian people”.

Responding to a question on the Palestinian foreign minister writing to his Indian counterpart S Jaishankar on the issue, MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said a similar letter has been written to all countries who abstained.

“Palestine wrote similar letters to all countries who abstained. The position that we took is not a new position. And we have abstained on previous occasions. I think that explains our position quite clearly and addresses these questions,” the spokesperson stated during a media briefing.

In a sharply-worded letter to Jaishankar, Palestinian foreign minister Riyad al-Maliki had said that “India missed an opportunity to join the international community at this turning point, both crucial and long overdue, on the path to accountability, justice and peace.”

India was among 14 countries that abstained at the UNHRC on a resolution proposing to set up a Commission of Inquiry into violations around the Israeli action in Gaza, and the “systematic” abuses in the Palestinian territories and inside Israel.

In this Saturday, May 15, 2021, file photo, an air bomb hits the building housing various international media, including The Associated Press, in Gaza City. (AP Photo)

Among other countries that abstained are France, Italy, Japan, Nepal, Netherlands, Poland, and South Korea.

Twenty-four members voted in favour, while nine against the resolution that was adopted in Geneva on May 27.

Among those who voted in favour of the resolution are Pakistan, China, Bangladesh, Russia, while Germany, the UK, Austria, among others, voted against it.

Notably, in its statement at the UNHRC on May 27, India had dropped the stock phrase from its statements of the past about extending strong support to the “just Palestinian cause” — signalling a nuanced shift away from the Palestinians and towards Israel.

Eleven days before the vote in Geneva, the Permanent Representative of India to the UN had said in a statement at the UN Security Council on May 16: “I reiterate India’s strong support to the just Palestinian cause and its unwavering commitment to the two-State solution”.

On May 20, however, the Permanent Representative, in a statement made at the UN General Assembly, omitted the “strong support to the just Palestinian cause”.

With the May 10-21 fighting between Israel and Hamas still ongoing, Permanent Representative T S Tirumurti said: “We support all ongoing diplomatic efforts, including of the Quartet, to bring the ongoing violence to an end and to seek durable peace, in line with the vision of the two States living side by side within secure and recognized borders.”

With PTI inputs

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