The Palestine Solidarity Committee, the All India Peace and Solidarity Organisation and Indian Campaign for the Cultural and Academic Boycott of Israel condemns the government of India’s abstention from a UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) vote for adoption of a UN Inquiry Commission report on Israel’s attack on Gaza, Palestine, last year. This is a blatant reversal of India’s longstanding policy of support to the Palestinians against Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. The vote in the 47-member Council was overwhelmingly against Israel; 41 countries vote in favor of the resolution, only one – the U.S. – voted against it; India was one of the 5 countries who abstained. This is the first time India has abstained on such a resolution in the UNHRC. Even in July last year, New Delhi voted in favour of a UNHRC resolution criticizing Israel for the Gaza war.
In 2014, Israel attacked Gaza, “the killing of 1,462 Palestinian civilians, including 551 children and 299 women”. This attack on an already besieged population, caused large scale destruction; around 10,000 homes were destroyed and another 89,000 damaged and displaced as much as 30% of Gaza’s population. The world over, people condemned Israel’s brutality.
Israel has consistently tried to smear the UN Human Rights Council; it has been successful in securing a US boycott of the body through the years of the Bush administration. This is only one facet of Israel’s flaunting international law in its use of the occupied territories for settlements, and the grabbing of Palestinian land and other resources.
The present Indian government occasionally pays lip service to its “support” of Palestine. During the criminal assault on the population of Gaza, the BJP government grudgingly conceded a debate in parliament, specifically under a rule that disallowed voting.
Despite “clarifications” from the spokesman of the Ministry of External Affairs that this is not a reversal of India’s policy on Palestine, it is clear that India is changing its policy towards Israel and Palestine. Newspaper reports indicate that India’s vote is linked with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urging Modi not to support the resolution.
The following excerpted phrases from the UNHRC resolution indicate what the present Indian government refuses to support on the global stage:
- “Emphasizing the importance of the safety and well-being of all civilians”
- “reaffirming the obligation to ensure the protection of civilians in armed conflict”
- “deploring the civilian deaths that resulted from the conflict in and around the Gaza Strip in July and August 2014, including the killing of 1,462 Palestinian civilians, including 551 children and 299 women”
- “Gravely concerned by reports regarding serious human rights violations and grave breaches of international humanitarian law, including possible war crimes”
- “Deploring the non-cooperation by Israel with the independent commission of inquiry on the 2014 Gaza conflict and the refusal to grant access to or to cooperate with international human rights bodies seeking to investigate alleged violations of international law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.”
- “Alarmed that long-standing systemic impunity for international law violations has allowed for the recurrence of grave violations without consequence”
We can only read this rejection of such basic demands for justice as yet another strategy to strengthen ties with Israel, and prepare the ground for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s plan to visit Israel sometime this year. Ties with Israel, especially military and security ties, are firmly in place. Modi’s visit to Israel will only cement this relationship, and implicate India in Israel’s war machine and apartheid policies.
On behalf of all Indians of conscience, we condemn the Indian government’s abstention from the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) vote for adoption of a UN Inquiry Commission report on Israel’s attack on Gaza in 2014. We demand that India not be party to whitewashing Israel’s flouting of international law and its occupation of Palestine. We also protest strongly against growing Indian ties with Israel, including military, security, trade, educational and cultural ties.
For The Palestine Solidarity Committee in India
D. Raja, Subhashini Ali, Saeed Mirza, Seema Mustafa, Prabir Purkayastha, S.P. Shukla, Achin Vanaik
For InCACBI (the Indian Campaigns for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel) (www.incacbi.in)
Sukumar Muralidharan, Githa Hariharan, Pushpamala N.
For AIPSO (All India People’s Solidarity Organization)
Niliotpal Basu, Pallab Sengupta